Record Store Day at The Exclusive Company
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Saturday’s Record Store Day found the nation’s indie record shops raging against the dying of the light by offering hundreds of one-day-only releases and other special goodies. In Milwaukee, the East Side Exclusive Company (1669 N. Farwell Ave.) celebrated with a full day of exclusive (heh) deals and in-store performances. The A.V. Club camped out at Exclusive for most of the day, and took in the crowds, the vinyl, the terrific live music, and the questionable spring weather.
7:50 a.m.: For those just arriving, the most sought-after Record Store Day goodies are probably already out of reach. With no sign of rain or snow (yet), the line extends to the corner of Brady Street.
8:15 a.m.: Unless you had your hopes up for the impossibly limited White Stripes 7-inches, you were probably in luck this morning: Our little ol’ Wisconsin chain managed to pull in surprising quantities of rarities, including a seemingly unlimited supply of Nirvana’s Hormoaning reissue. The mob is plastered against the store’s south wall, groping at 7-inch singles, but the scene is far from unruly. All requests to “Pass me that Yardbirds record,” and such, are being met.
8:30 a.m.: It appears the Phish 7-inch and Foo Fighters cover album went as quickly as tickets to the last LCD Soundsystem show, but everyone’s got armfuls of wax. It’s somewhat disheartening to watch some vultures grabbing up four or five copies of certain records, but such is life in the post-eBay world.
10:39 a.m.: The store is more packed than before, and WMSE DJ Erin Wolf is spinning a great mix of tunes as folks huddle over racks of used vinyl. The RSD-only selections are dwindling, but there are still plenty of Pearl Jam’s Vs. and Vitalogy reissues hanging out sheepishly like the kids nobody wants on their kickball team.
10:55 a.m.: Erin plays the original “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin. We still think Robert Plant’s version from the Riverside last Monday was better.
11:19 a.m.: There are not many takers on classic rock, apparently. Copies of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” AC/DC’s “Shoot To Thrill,” and R.E.M.’s Collapse Into Now singles are still clogging the shelves. Surprised, anyone?
12:15 p.m.: The store is still packed, and buzzing with fresh activity. Too bad it takes a made-up holiday to attract these kinds of hordes. It’s kind of like church and Christmas.
2:30 p.m.: The line to check out is twice as long as it was two hours ago. It’s nice to see so many folks living out the High Fidelity fantasy for a day.
3:14 p.m.: Heidi Spencer’s tremulous voice evokes something more pastoral than a packed record store in the city, but her performance is one of the best we’ve seen on this holiday in ages.
3:30 p.m.: Reports of snow outside.
3:32 p.m.: Reports confirmed. Ugh.
3:40 p.m.: As Spencer and her Rare Birds pack up, the place seems to clear out. Elbow room at last. But it’s just a temporary lull before Maritime starts playing.
3:45 p.m.: A clutch of smokers are huddled outside the font door, staring in disbelief at the wet “wintry mix” pouring from the sky. How ’bout that ’Sconnie weather!
4:05 p.m.: Maritime has arrived and is setting up. The store is still packed, but the mood is somber and a bit hushed. Sorely missing this year: beer, hot dogs, and sunshine.
4:10 p.m.: Davey Von Bohlen: “We’re a band called Maritime. We’re usually a lot louder than this.” First song: “Guns Of Navarone.”
4:15 p.m.: Maritime’s semi-acoustic set works surprisingly well, and it’s a perfect miniature follow-up to the band’s triumphant record release party at Turner Hall two weeks ago. Some little kids with Easter-egg maracas add to the cozy ambience of this rollicking little set.
4:25 p.m.: There’s one dude up front who’s a little too into the set. (Isn’t there always?) God bless you, incongruously head-banging dude.
4:50 p.m.: Maritime finishes with the last song from Human Hearts, “Apple Of My Irony.” Terrific song, terrific album.
5:00 p.m.: The snow has stopped and it’s kinda-sorta sunny outside. Exclusive is more packed than ever.
5:10 p.m.: No sign of Mike Watt, who may be performing, or might just be hanging out. Posters at Exclusive have him down for a “Q&A.” The thought of a formal Mike Watt Q&A is almost too funny to contemplate.
5:25 p.m.: Mike Watt has arrived, and is hanging out and signing autographs at a side register. The store is playing his newest record, Hyphenated-Man.
5:30 p.m.: Mike Watt: “Mike Watt loves the Minutemen!”
5:35 p.m.: Fahri takes the stage, and begins the loudest set of the day. Still sounds great.
6:05 p.m.: Mike Watt is gone, and Fahri is wrapping things up. Same here. ’Til next year, Record Store Day.