"It's all kind of a blur," Mikey Ramirez, co-owner of Fort Lauderdale's Radio-Active Records, says of their extremely busy 2014 Record Store Day. When we arrived, the wait was about 30 minutes to even get in the door, but apparently some people stood out there for hours to get a peek at what the store had to offer for this musical holiday.
The day started with some anxiety due to a heavy morning rain. "I was about to have a heart attack," Ramirez admits, "I thought, 'This day is not going to go the way I want it to go.'" But the line just kept growing larger and larger until it wrapped around the block.
Needless to say, this was the best RSD the store has hosted. "Sales were way up, but other that that, the execution of the day went super smoothly." And it truly did. Everyone waited patiently and walked in without harassment or stress, gathered their desired vinyl, watched performances by Sweet Bronco, Bleubird, Shotgun Betty, Astrea Corp, Deaf Poets, and Ketchy Shuby, and then hit the road to savor their new purchases.
At first, Ramirez thought they'd overloaded on helpers -- volunteers and staff -- but as it turned out, they all came in handy, and he definitely appreciated it. "The reason the day was such a success was everyone came together to make it a success," he says, adding humbly, "and they had to put up with me."
The line was long until about 8 p.m., when things finally died down a bit. "It was nice to see customers be so receptive to how it was running," he adds. Radio-Active folks made them comfortable, offering them water and raffle tickets, and not one person complained.
Ramirez credits operations manager Natalie Martinez with wisely handling the live music lineup. Though he's seen all the acts before, he says, "I thought the lineup was great, bands were great." He said he was surprisingly impressed by Shotgun Betty. "It was a nice contrast to the day," he explains. "I like what they did. I would definitely go see them again." He adds, "Ketchy Shuby nailed it. I was just glad they were all a part of it." Ramirez does remain in charge of the DJs they choose. They're the same every year. "If it's not broke, don't fix it."
Top sellers included special releases by Childish Gambino, Built to Spill, Pixies, Outkast, Notorious B.I.G., Christian Death, Nirvana, Otis Redding, Devo, and Death Waltz records. And also Ray Parker Jr.'s Ghostbusters. This most impressed Ramirez too. "It was just the right time with the anniversary, and unfortunately the death of Harold Ramis, but you don't want to capitalize off that." It reminded him of the Fat Boys release where they put out a pizza record in a pizza box. "Is it a great record? No, it's dated," he explains, "but the concept and the execution were great." He also likened it to the Peanuts turntable, saying, "It's the concept that counts. "
What he was surprised people were asking for was a One Direction seven-inch picture disc released especially for RSD. Apparently a lot of messageboards shat on the idea when it was announced, but he thinks it's a good idea. "Hey, it got kids in the store. An older customer told me he couldn't believe how many kids were there. The majority prob don't know what a record store is. I thought it was very clever that they chose to release that record. It brought people in here."
He added that some people complain RSD is getting "watered down" and that things like 1D shouldn't be released. He himself admits to liking "left-field music that sounds like nails on the chalkboard." But that negative attitude he calls elitist and explains, "That's just contributing to the stigma these stores have."
The vibe was far from pretentious at Radio-Active on Saturday, and it was truly a stress-free yet titillating experience. It was like chilling with a new-old boyfriend who you still are in love with. And for the record, we savored every moment since with our RSD purchase: the Notorious B.I.G. reissue of Life After Death.