Question – What happens once a year, makes you get up in the middle of the night and empties your entire wallet in 10 minutes? I guess Christmas could be a reasonable answer but I am talking about an event that occurs after Easter, soon after the daffodils have been and gone and ‘Spring’ is officially upon us, yes folks, I am of course referring to Record Store Day.
‘RSD’ came into being in 2007 when over 700 independent stores in the USA came together to celebrate their unique culture. The UK followed suit and 2015 saw the eighth celebration of the UK's unique independent sector. This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists across the globe make special appearances and performances.
I was mulling over whether I should set the alarm for 3am (like I have done for the past 4 years), drag my sorry arse out of my bed and pull on some clothes and drive to Totnes to join the queue ready for the doors of The Drift Record Shop to open at 9am. After checking the bank balance and realizing that it was actually 1am (stayed up watching the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’), I succumbed to the fact that I was better off rocking up at 8am to take some pictures, chat to the enthusiasts and generally take a back seat and let the whole event wash over me.
I arrived just after 8am to see a familiar face at the front of the queue, I was stood next to him last year, he admitted that being number 9 in the queue last year wasn’t going to cut the mustard this year as there was a number of exclusives that he simply HAD to get his hands on, as a result, he had left home at 3:30am in order to get to the shop, to be rewarded with the much coveted ‘first in line’ place. I asked him what his budget was and I received a look much along the lines of just having served someone a dog-poo sandwich and asked them if it was tasty…. I get it, people who attend RSD don’t usually have a budget, they just pick up as many of the lovely offerings on display, then spend a good 20 minutes mulling over whether they actually want the item or not, normally coming to a decision that they do.
The in-store ‘pop up’ coffee shop was doing a roaring trade in freshly ground coffee, hot chocolate and tea, I think some of the folk who had been there most of the night may have appreciated a shot of something a little stronger to warm their cockles….
Ay 9am sharp, Jenny appeared from within the store, told everyone that the first 20 people would be allowed inside, then a 1 in, 1 out policy would apply, this was to avoid the shop becoming too crowded very quickly and allow the folk who had set their alarms, the chance to have a more leisurely browse through the offerings prior to settling on their final choices. The store was a buzz of activity, people helping each other out if they found an obscure item that they thought a fellow shopper may like, others grabbing the rarer items on offer quickly to avoid disappointment, as we all know, ‘you snooze, you lose’!
Amongst the booty for RSD 2015, there were some very nice pieces, I spotted a lovely A-Ha picture disc of their classic 80’s anthem ‘Take on Me’, a nice looking soundtrack LP of the cult classic movie, ‘Shogun Assassin’ and a beautiful burgundy split 7” of ‘Dark Globe’ by Syd Barrett and R.E.M. The White Stripes double LP of ‘Get Behind me Satan’ lasted all of 5 minutes and it was interesting to see some items were overlooked in preference of more eclectic material by lesser known acts.
The staff at 'Drift' are great, so friendly and helpful, below you can see Jenny risking her life to reach an item down from the top shelf, notice how she does this with absolutely no regard to her own safety, as long as the customer is happy, she's happy!
Rupert on the other hand, prefers to keep his feet firmly on the ground and was more than happy to floor-walk, offering advice and recommendations to the shop full of people.
After a bit of dilly-dallying along the way, the sweet sound of the ‘Drift Record Shop’ till started pinging into life, credit card companies starting rubbing their hands together and grown adults possessed that ‘kid in a toy shop’ smile on their faces as they queued up to exchange hard earned cash for their chosen spoils. Dare I say that these smiles may be wiped off their faces when the statement arrives in a couple of weeks….either way, it only happens once a year, so at least they have 12 months to pay it off before it all happens again!
I’ll leave you with the final image I took on the day, it’s of the guy who was up at 3:30am along with his ‘treasure’, this was taken minutes before he reached the till….. Was the smile still on his face when he was presented with the final tally? Of course it was!
Feature and Photography by Steve Muscutt