Now more than ever records hold tight to their retro charm, standing shoulder to shoulder, in crates and boxes all over the city. Patiently, they wait for that one sacred day of the year when reverence for their archaic allure reaches its peak. And sure, the average offer of 20 per cent off records might not seem monumental, but price tags only contribute to the spirit of Record Store Day.
The greater achievement is a nod to music culture; a nod to wearing out something you love by listening to it so much and recognizing the community’s affection for it. Generously adding to this spirit are free live shows at local record stores around the city, infusing the day with a festival frame of mind. Scratch Records, located at the corner of Hastings and Carrall, was a prime example of this by hosting a thirteen hour tribute to Record Store Day, commencing at 11 a.m.
Bursting with twelve local acts, the first three bands to play were Eden Fine Day, Jody Glenham and Mirror Lake. Von Bingen took to the stage at 3 p.m., performing in the Interurban Gallery, attached to Scratch Records. High ceilings gave the room a hollow tone encouraged by the vapid white walls, though Von Bingen’s music quickly filled the space. Their songs swam to a steady, almost hip-hop beat, while waves of grainy electronic ambiance rounded out their sound.
The Courtneys came next: three girls endorsing ombre, tattoos, short bangs, and being really fucking hip, they delved into a set of power garage rock, effectively changing riffs during catchy tunes, adding a bit of plot to their sonic stories. Their set was diminished only by the room’s poor sound quality, producing unfortunately quiet vocals.
Consistent with the inconsistent pattern of musical acts, next came long-standing locals, Vancougar, ready to deliver a cleaner rock/pop sound. Polished but not pushing any musical boundaries they tried enthusiastically to entertain the crowd, but were met mostly with apathy.
After this, a slight increase in young men wearing black hoodies transitioned to Doc Holliday’s 6 p.m. set. This four-person metal band commanded sizable energy and volume, but faced a similar disinterest from the crowd. Following Doc Holliday were We Hunt Buffalo, Wolf, Dead Soft, Cornshed and If We Are Machines, adding promise to the event’s end.
The atmosphere was padded with cheap beer and wine, with plenty of discounted records for sale, but disappointingly, most of the low-priced selection was of Salvation Army quality (i.e. Neil Diamond and ABBA). The random shape of the line up, however, may have been the event’s greatest downfall, causing noticeable discontinuity and a sparse turnout.
Criticisms aside, Scratch deserves recognition for its role in supporting the Vancouver music scene, and of course, for helping to keep our favourite music technology alive.