It's fitting that Dave Grohl is the spokesperson for Record Store Day this year—both once seemed cool, but overexposure and declining quality have alienated tons of onetime fans. That leaves an RSD crowd skewed toward diehards—people whose susceptibility to limited editions and gimmicky packaging makes them collectors first and supporters of independent record stores second. These are shoppers totally OK with lining up on the sidewalk in the wee hours for the chance to spend an irresponsible amount of money on a seven-inch called "Touch Me I'm Dick" by the fictional band Citizen Dick, which Matt Dillon fronted in the 1992 Cameron Crowe movie Singles. It can seem sad, sure—to paraphrase the record-store owner from High Fidelity, I'd feel guilty for ragging on these folks if I weren't one of them.
This Saturday's Record Store Day is the eighth, and I keep coming back even though the mass of humanity in the shops really wears me out—especially given how many people will throw elbows to get at overpriced major-label gimmicks. I counted 426 special releases on RSD's U.S. website, down from more than 600 last year, and I'm not sure I got them all. (I've seen other outlets report totals above 500, though for all I know they're including releases available only in the UK or elsewhere abroad.) At any rate, the number of interesting RSD releases is definitely smaller. Right at the top is the Numero Group's Ork Records: Complete Singles seven-inch box set—it collects the output from what's arguably the first punk label, which existed from 1975 till '79, and includes singles from Alex Chilton, Television, and Richard Hell. Plus some top-notch Chicago bands have new jams for RSD, among them Twin Peaks and Braid—both are dropping seven-inches for the occasion.
The cassette of Metallica's 1982 No Life 'Till Leather demo has been made to look like a home-dubbed copy, which might rankle fans who remember the band's fight with Napster, but it's hard to argue with the teenage mayhem on the tape. Other worthy reissues include a double LP of William Tyler's 2008 album Deseret Canyon, Poison Idea's 1989 picture-disc seven inch "Just to Get Away" b/w "Kick Out the Jams," and the funky, psychedelic 1975 Zamrock record Africa from Kitwe-based band Amanaz.
Record Store Day defines a "regional release" as anything shipping fewer than 1,000 copies (they're not often actually confined to a specific region), and this year some of the most notable are the Primal Vinyl compilation from Zion power-pop veterans Shoes, Against Me!'s Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ seven-inch, and the first internationally distributed album from young Malian singer Leila Gobi, titled simply Leila. Regional records usually sell out fast—and not even lining up outside a store at 1 AM on Saturday will guarantee that it has a copy in stock.
A few new record stores have opened in the past year, including Shuga in Wicker Park and Funk Trunk in Rogers Park. The Numero Group hosts its fifth annual RSD pop-up shop, returning to the Comfort Station in Logan Square for the third year. And the Reckless in Wicker Park is taking over a bigger space at 1379 N. Milwaukee any day now—last week the store said the new location would open on Thu 4/16.
In-store performances on RSD tend to be finalized close to the day itself, and in years past there have usually been a dozen or so around town. Highlights announced so far include an acoustic set from Lansing's Cheap Girls at Saki, Cincinnati trash-pop band Tweens at Bric-a-Brac, and Chicago singer-songwriter Quinn Tsan at Shuga, but there are sure to be many more. (Full lineups will be posted below.) And not every RSD event happens in a store: Local label and arts collective FeelTrip takes over the Boiler Room for a Saturday brunch with Model Stranger and the Lulabelles from noon to 4 PM, and Hyde Park Records hosts this spring's installment of the WHPK/Hyde Park Records Soul Reunion party at 8 PM (acts to be announced) and an RSD-themed DJ set from D&E Disco Edits at 11 PM.
The Reader has put together an online RSD map where each store or venue's "pin" lists discounts, promotions, in-store performances, and other special events; it'll be updated till Friday night. As always, check ahead with a store whenever you can. Most don't post inventories or answer questions in advance about which special releases they'll get, not only because they're still receiving shipments at the last minute but also because they want to encourage customers to actually show up and look around. Happy digging! —Leor Galil
Choose your own Record Store Day adventure
Shops participating in Record Store Day usually stock a selection of special RSD releases, but in most cases retailers don't know till the last minute what they'll get. Consequently these listings don't mention RSD inventory—they're about special events, in-store performances, discounts, promotions, giveaways, and the like. Late changes are always possible, so it's always a good idea to check with the store if you can.
Beverly Records Used vinyl 20 percent off, plus free drinks, snacks, and entertainment from what the owner describes as "some neighborhood guy," who'll stop in to play songs throughout the day. 7 AM-6 PM, 11612 S. Western, 773-779-0066, beverlyrecords.com.
Bric-a-Brac Records All-day block party, with free Wormhole coffee and Doughnut Vault pastries till 11 AM and a Brick-a-Braquiri cocktail sold at Lost Lake next door. Bands start at 1 PM and include Tweens, Proud Parents, and Son of a Gun. 8 AM-9 PM, 3156 W. Diversey, 773-654-3915, facebook.com/bricabracrecords.
Bucket o' Blood Books and Records The shop opens early and will be stocked with Record Store Day vinyl. Giveaways and free snacks throughout the day. 10 AM-8 PM, 2307 N. Milwaukee, 312-890-3860, bucketoblood.com.
Dusty Groove America Gifts for the first 100 shoppers, free refreshments and giveaways all day, and a free magic show in the afternoon. Customers can spin a "wheel of fortune" with every purchase for a chance to win special prizes. 8 AM-9 PM, 1120 N. Ashland, 773-342-5800, dustygroove.com.
Groovin' High Record Store Day giveaways, plus discounts throughout the store. 7 AM-8 PM, 1047 W. Belmont, 773-476-6846.
Hyde Park Records Sale on all vinyl throughout the day, plus appearances by Chicago soul singers Bobby Hutton, Holle Maxwell, Ruby Andrews, Linda Clifford, and more. DJs from WHPK spin. 11 AM-8 PM, 1377 E. 53rd, 773-288-6588, hydeparkrecords.net.
Kstarke Records Free food and drink and all-day DJ sets from Constance K, Ross Kelly, Tim Zawada, Marlowe Baca, King Hippo, and Communicator, among others. 10 AM-9 PM, 1109 N. Western, 773-772-4880, facebook.com/kstarke.records.chicago.
Laurie's Planet of Sound Live music and DJ sets all day, starting at 12:30 PM. Acts include Staring Problem, Baby Magic, and Handcuffs; among the folks spinning records are DJ Peroxide, Alex White, and shop owner John Laurie. 9 AM-10 PM, 4639 N. Lincoln, 773-271-3569, lauriesplanetofsound.com.
Logan Hardware Logan Hardware recently bought an entire store's worth of vintage inventory, which will hit the shelves for Record Store Day. "The Record Butcher" will be in the basement selling vinyl by the pound, but the shop's owners boast that there will be no official RSD releases on offer. Noon-9 PM, 2532 W. Fullerton, 773-235-5030, logan-hardware.com.
Numero Group Pop-Up Shop This RSD-only shop will sell you anything out of the Numero catalog, as well as unique releases and used merchandise from all over the midwest. 9 AM-5 PM, Comfort Station, 2579 N. Milwaukee, numerogroup.wordpress.com.
Old School Records Performances by Marvin Tate, Althea Grace, Wicked Mace (members of Black Bear Combo), and Randy Russo starting at noon. At some point the shop will screen Records Collecting Dust, a documentary about record collecting. 10 AM-7 PM, 7446 W. Madison, Forest Park, 708-366-7588, theoldschoolrecords.com.
Permanent Records Free Dark Matter coffee and West Town Bakery treats in the morning; free Roots pizza in the afternoon. Performances by ADT, Clearance, and Buckingham Palace SVU starting at 4 PM. 8 AM-9 PM (or so), 1914 W. Chicago, 773-278-1744, permanentrecordschicago.com.
Reckless Records on Milwaukee The Sea & Cake perform at 3 PM, DJ Clent spins at 5:30 PM, and Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo will be around for a meet and greet from 3:30-5 PM. 10 AM-10 PM, 1379 N. Milwaukee, 773-235-3727, reckless.com.
Record Breakers Half off all CDs. Live music starting first thing in the morning and running all day long from Lasers and Fast and Shit, Shiloh, Soddy Daisy, Post Animal, and Jollys. 8 AM-11 PM, 2105 S. State, 312-949-0125, reggieslive.com.
Saki In-store performances by Cheap Girls, Sleeping Bag, Advance Base, Oshwa, the Sueves, and Supreme Nothing, which start at 1 PM. Free Dark Matter coffee and a photo booth. 9 AM-8 PM, 3716 W. Fullerton, 773-486-3997, sakistore.blogspot.com.
Shuga Records Free "cinnamon shuga" doughnuts from Glazed and Infused and drinks from Dark Matter Coffee. The shop will give away T-shirts, raffle off stereo equipment, and host in-store performances from Fee Lion, Ty Maxon, Quinn Tsan, and Zigtebra. 8 AM-10 PM, 1272 N. Milwaukee, 773-278-4085, shugarecords.com.
Val's Halla Records Sale prices on all inventory, free coffee and doughnuts for early birds, concert ticket giveaways, and an all-day in-store performance by Lloyd King and friends. 9 AM-7 PM, 239 Harrison, Oak Park, 708-524-1004, valshallarecords.com.
Wilbilly's This shop, formerly Village Records, will close at the end of the month, so it's having a blowout sale for Record Store Day. Noon-8 PM, 2010 W. Roscoe, 773-549-7868, facebook.com/wilbillys. v
Correction: This story has been amended to correctly reflect the location of WHPK and Hyde Park Records's Soul Reunion show.