Many driving down US1 this Saturday were confused by the long line snaking out of Radio-Active Records. Why, on one of the hottest days in months, were these folks waiting patiently on the concrete skillet of Federal Highway?
They were doing it for Record Store Day — all in the hopes of snagging some exclusive vinyl pressed just for this third Saturday. Record Store Day began in 2007 as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture of record stores, not just in the United States, but worldwide. In the eight years since, this annual event hasn't just blossomed, it's exploded in size and significance. Although South Florida didn't get anything as cool as Record Store Day's Official Ambassador, Dave Grohl, playing a concert with Foo Fighters in a strip mall, there were still lines of anxious fans outside Radio-Active Records.
Pop-up tents in the store's back parking lot sported enterprising vendors hocking everything from beat up Star Wars toys to used Nintendo Gamecubes to ugly button-down shirts (and a few rad looking Butthole Surfers tees).
At Radio-Active's rear exit, store owners set up a two-for-one cash only sidewalk sale. Patient scavengers looking hard enough found hidden gems in the lot. Also adorning the back wall of the store was a wheel-of-fortune game for customers who made a purchase. Prizes included shirts, guitar picks, and, for a lucky few, limited edition records.
There was still a well into the afternoon, hours after the store's 8 a.m. opening, and well into the face-melting heat of the late day. Those manning the front door said it would be twenty five minutes to get into the store. For some, it might hardly seem like a good way to spend a Saturday, but for many, the triumph of bringing home a coveted special edition LP or 7'' made it all worthwhile.
Farther up the road, just north of Radio-Active, the Record Store Day scene was quite different and much mellower. At We Got The Beats Record Store, there was no line, and no waiting. At least not in the afternoon. The store had a hundred or so customers in the morning according to employees, but by late in the day, fans had full access to all of the Record Store Day exclusives (unfortunately all the complimentary cupcakes were gone).
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Both stores boasted in-store DJs. Browsers bopped along to '80s hits at We Got The Beats as they perused a sick assortment of Record Store Day only deals including new releases from Bob Dylan, Cold War Kids, David Bowie, Manic Street Preachers, Run The Jewels, Tegan and Sara, and Wu-Tang Clan, just to name a few. Earlier in the day, a newbie to the experience, Michelle Sakowicz of Coral Springs told New Times she was dragged to We Got The Beats by her boyfriend, but walked out with a Phish live box set, a Reverend Horton Heat LP, and the latest from Against Me! for her brother. “I didn't know about it until today. I thought the exclusives were pretty sweet.” And just like that, Record Store Day had another successful convert.
Just like Black Friday, or any other hyped up shopping day, Record Store Day can be frustrating or intimidating to the unprepared. Long lines can make one a bit cynical about the whole affair, but once those fingers are creeping through stacks of vinyl, a music lover's heart is allowed to flutter. The joy of a new discovery, a rare find, or a special edition by your favorite band is enough to make all the hoopla worth enduring.