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RECORD STORE DAY: EAST BAY GREETINGS

Hipsters, Vinyl and Good Vibes Among the Bins

I dropped into Amoeba Music in Berkeley for Record Store Day, and it was a cheery sight: A large and diverse crowd pawing through the LPs, special releases flying off the shelves and a DJ spinning a motivating mix of hip-hop and soul.

The managers told me there was a line to get in at opening, that vinyl ruled (and cassettes were definitely making a comeback) and that business had ranged from crazy to vigorous all day. Top sellers among the RSD specials (one copy per customer, please) included the Whites Stripes single, which reportedly sold out in about 60 seconds, Jack White’s Elvis 10” (a previously unannounced reissue of the King’s first recording; see teaser vid below), the badge-shaped J. Dilla single, Father John Misty, a die-cut Grandmaster Flash 7", releases from Run the Jewels and Black Star, and the much-discussed Metallica cassette.

One staffer recalled meeting a teenaged female customer who’d just gotten into Otis Redding and introducing her to Al Green. “Look at that white suit he's wearing on the cover,” he’d told her. “That’s just the beginning.”

Indeed the young female contingent there—which skewed very hipster/UCB, as you can imagine—seemed to be among the most avid shoppers. Talk about a healthy sign.

What was conveyed by everyone working at Amoeba that day—and clear to even a casual observer—is the lovely community-festival vibe that a busy, well-stocked record store can produce. The online marketplace is inarguably convenient on many fronts, but there's something special about digging through the discs with a throng of fellow music fans, while Aretha blasts out of the speakers and clerks glide by to assist or just kibitz.

This environment of bonhomie and musical discovery was bubbling at shops all over our fair land on Saturday. With vinyl going strong and an ever-expanding catalogue of specials to goose traffic, it appears that physical retail's holiday is a greater occasion for celebration than ever.

See our notes on other RSD specials in our new Critics' Choice section.

Photo 1: Simon Glickman
Photo 2: Julia Madden

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