We saw you. We saw you standing outside Radio-Active Records, as early as 2 a.m. on Saturday, April 20, 2013. We saw you panic a little when we walked into the store from the back door before it was time to open the front and sift through the records to see what our beloved Radio-Active Records received for the big day. Don't worry. We didn't take anything, just a little research. We saw you sweating your way through a ton of records to find the ones on your list and definitely caught you posting your finds to Instagram. We saw you come and go.
But New Times stayed. We powered through from hour one to hour 12 to help you fill in the blanks. Things got a little weird, a little hot, and a little wet. Here is our Radio-Active Records Record Store Day hour-by-hour rundown.
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8 a.m.: We arrive at Radio-Active in time to see the line coil around the block. It is hot. The kind of heat that doesn't just beat down on you from above but shrouds your skin in a sticky blanket of radiant warmth. The sun is barely above the skyline and a small group huddles by the back door of the shop, nervously waiting to be let in before the queue grows much longer and spots the vulnerable pod which we've become a part of. The fear sets in early, and you can feel the paranoia of hungry eyes from all around.
The devoted press up against the glass windows, waiting to be let loose on loads exclusive records released on this Record Store Day 2013. Through the glass of the front door, they can obviously see the back door come to life and make way for our preview.
Suddenly those closest to the front of the line, who can see inside of the store grow concerned. Threatened. Who were we? Fiddling through the new releases, catching undeserved glimpses of some of the most coveted titles. We don't take a thing. That would be unfair advantage. That could start a riot. Like the one last year over the only copy the shop received of Junta, Phish's 2012 RSD release.
Location is everything. If they could just see that the record they want is there, they'd be able to rest easy.
Rifling through the massive load of vinyl strategically tucked away toward the back of the store with a traffic pattern in mind, we were able to determine that in that load there only existed one Dave Matthews Band Live Trax box set. Aside from that, the actual count of each title in the store was hard to determine as Radio-Active's special touch is to integrate each title with no rhyme or reason, forcing one to feverishly browse, while discouraging the hoarder-like behavior often associated with enthusiastic collectors -- preventing the flippers from grabbing a stack of any one title, leaving a trail of E-bay auctioned heartache in their wake.
8:45 a.m.: Mikey Ramirez sets out to lay down the law. A series of drill-like directions fly off his tongue: When the door opens, go straight ahead and to the right. Those are the new releases. They are mixed in. There is no order. Good luck. To the left are bins of warehouse clearance records. An exciting and promising selection. Also in no order.
He walks a few feet back into the line to ask if everyone heard. No?
The drill repeats.
9 a.m.: Tension is high. The line has grown to triple its size, along with it, the aforementioned anxieties. When the lock of the single glass-paneled front door unlatches, it is the sound of a fever breaking. It isn't even 9:01, and the Live Trax has vanished, coveted by the very first in line. He arrived at 2 in the morning, specifically for it.
In an instant, the store is overrun with a particular type of predator. Feasting on the freshly printed stacks of wax and coming at such a rate that the front door never closes, letting in an unforgiving heat that draws a consistent drip of perspiration from every pore in the room, which quickly turns to steam and begins to cast a haze over the madness.
Raffle tickets are issued (See 6 p.m.).
10 a.m.: By far the longest hour of the day. The store is consumed by a checkout line. A purgatorial road block between purchasing records and Boba tea. A tough call: the Boba tea is outside with the other vendors, but to get out there, one must either pay for their selections or surrender them like Otis to the Walkers. No amount of tapioca pearls is worth that. Everyone is sweating. The official RSD13 Jimi Hendrix posters are gone now.
11 a.m.: In the center of the store, a woman stands with a look of disbelief on her face as if she were watching a family of sloths build an igloo in the middle of Capitol Hill in August. She is resting on a stack of records that traverses the length of her torso. "They are my boyfriends'," she admits, and proceeds to divulge that she didn't even know record players still existed, let alone entire shops thriving in the business of selling them, until she met her current boyfriend. Nothing in the stack is for her because, as she's observed, "None of the musicians in the genre I listen to release vinyl records." Explaining that she listens to country music exclusively, and that "someone like Taylor Swift doesn't release vinyl copies of their albums."
Noon: Finally Boba tea is a reality, and a Frankie Dog is the perfect pairing for such a treat. Despite it being nearly a hundred degrees outside, stepping out back to the vendor's area offers the opportunity to sweat in peace after hours of standing ass to elbows, unsure if the sweat dripping down your arm is yours or not.
Jinx Remover is punching the clock hand screening commemorative T-shirts. Other vendors complete a humble marketplace scene. Unique thrift store garb is given another chance to see the light of day. Stash jars, incense holders, vintage wares -- whatever gets you going.
The last Radio Active Records RSD13 Mix Tape is issued. Sorry, dudes.
1 p.m.: Relationship of Command, the vinyl reissue of At The Drive In is now gone. Also wiped out is local dark elecro act Mothersky's annual Record Store Day release. Elliot Smith, gone (again?).
2 p.m.: "Do you have three friends to help you play that record?" The question begs to be answered, though no one really seems to be aware of the caveat provided by the reissue of The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka, a four LP set meant to bring a group together with four record players. The concept album is disjointed when each LP is heard on its own, but when timed right and played all at once, the sounds come together cohesively. Suspicious at hearing these details about the album, it seems the agreement is that it sounds like a pain in the ass. Still those who originally opted for the set stuck to their guns. "Worth having" is also the agreement. Should you need a fourth in playing the album yourself, your humble reporter would be happy to lend hers, so long as she gets to play the green LP.
3 p.m.: Turntables on the South side of the shop never stop spinning. A revolving door of DJs move in and out in seamless serpentine sound transitions. DJ Blue hopped the tracks just in time to help breathe a second wind into the overheated and over stimulated. Gone as quickly as he came on. Thus began the procession of DJs, each taking another's place each time you looked.
4 p.m.: The sky is about to let lose some sort of furious deluge. A new keg is tapped just in time, and the entire scene scrambles inside. Getting a good look at the collective crowd, it is easy to see that the folks flocking inside of the store are not the same top feeders as the crop this morning. A whole new wave of vultures frantically scouring the picked over remains of the thing. It's hard to imagine what use there is in showing up this late to any party.
The ones that have survived the day so far are sunburned, mumbling and staring blankly into a stack of records, leaning back or leaning over the table. Their alcohol consumption is notably more steady than those who just arrived, straight out of the shower or whatever it is that kept them from showing up until four o'clock.
5 p.m.: So close and yet so very far. Block x Blog music festival is approaching, and just like the records themselves, the crowd is slowly pulling a disappearing act. Some heading straight to Revolution. No sense in delaying the weird. It takes a sick person to hang around a sauna posing as a record store from open to close then proceed to see a night club through from open to close. But it's a goddamn holiday. An early jump on the second half of the evening is commendable, but unnecessary.
It is pissing rain outside. And then the power goes.
But just for a minute.
Mike Ramirez hops on the microphone to announce they'll be calling the raffle winners at six.
The energy in the room is hysterical and dead pan all at the same time. Delirious even. The sound of chatter outweighs the sound of the records spinning. Sticking around for the raffle is a good idea though. Most of the folks who got a ticket earlier in the day are long gone. Chances are better for winning autographed merchandise and concert tickets.
6 p.m.: Comes and goes.
6:30 p.m.: A lot of worthwhile prizes and absent winners. The raffle idea is quickly abandoned after one winner walks away with an autographed Jacuzzi Boys LP.
7 p.m.: On a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst, the effects of Record Store Day is causing a delirium somewhere between a six and a seven. The walls are closing in. The concept of comfortable shoes is starting to permeate. Those suffering the worst fatigue are rendered useless by post exhaustion efforts by their nervous systems to empty the tank completely. Awkwardly cutting a rug in the middle of the store. Rickolus to the rescue! The short live set he offers up brings just enough energy into the room to carry Radio-Active's Record Store Day home. Perfect way to wrap the first chapter of RSD13.
8 p.m.: Block x Blog or bust.
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