Originally started as a single-day rally cry for music lovers to get out and support traditional music retailers instead of buying digital music and/or ordering online, Record Store Day has quickly become an exponentially more commercialized affair and has seen major labels clumsily wedging half-hatched ideas for “special releases” into every vacant crevice of brick and mortar record shop shelves to be instantly snatched up by a “collector” who doesn’t realize A-Ha’s “Take On Me” doesn’t sound much better in $15 vinyl form in 2015 than it did on cassette in the 1980s. Though the holiday has some ugly and altogether unsavory elements, the message of Record Store Day still shines through the capitalist haze: Go out to your local record retailer and buy some music.
Beyond the availability of the day’s official recognized releases, a host of Milwaukee music retailers, bar/restaurants, bands, radio stations, and record labels are doing their part to put a localized touch on this international sonic celebration. From in-store appearances and discounts to limited releases and beer tastings, here’s how Milwaukee is celebrating Record Store Day 2015 this Saturday.
1. Acme Records & Music Emporium
Though Ken Chrisien is aware of some of RSD’s ickier aspects, the owner of the vinyl-rich Bay View shop is at least doing his part to make the day special for all customers—not just the ones listing their new rarities for sale on eBay while they’re still in line to pay for them. Beyond cycling in obscure collectibles onto his hand-crafted shelves throughout the day, Acme’s sparsely-used stage will also get some use when none other than Midwives play an early evening in-store set. Check back on the site Friday for a short piece about Acme and its interesting owner shot, edited, and directed by Milwaukee artist and filmmaker Travis Whitty.
2. Bullseye Records/Comet
For years, Bullseye Records and The Comet Cafe have been a great combination for a day out on the East Side. For the second year, the neighbors will join forces for a special RSD event. Billed as “CHEAP RECORDS AND FREE BEER 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO,” the event will feature a massive sidewalk sale with sale-priced wax, Comet employee of past and present spinning records, and free beer samples from Ale Asylum. There are few things we can think of that are better than free Ale Asylum. We know from experience.
3-5. Exclusive Company locations
While occupying that strange gray area between big box retail chain and single-store mom and pop shop, Milwaukee-area Exclusive Company locations collectively do more to give Record Store Day a local sheen than anywhere else in town. This year, the Milwaukee site will feature in-store appearances from Field Report’s own Christopher Porterfield, Calliope, Awe Howler, and The Living Statues. Way up at West Bend’s ExCo, buyers will enjoy massive discounts and free sandwiches, while Greenfield’s store will play host to WMSE DJs, a food drive, and sales as well.
6. Rush-Mor Records
In their lengthy tenures as owners of longstanding Bay View music bastion Rush-Mor Records, Dan Duchaine and Bill Rouleau have seen listener preferences change immensely and have weathered the turbulent tides of the music industry’s shift to digital formats along with the ongoing vinyl resurgence. They told us they were early Record Store Day adapters, but beyond stocking new releases, offering some RSD exclusives, and unveiling a special commissioned T-shirt design, the Rush-Mor owners will treat the holiday just like any other Saturday, except they may grill out.
7. Dusty Medical Records
If you want to support local music this Record Store Day, but the prospect of lines, label-mandated mark-ups, and the fear of getting caught in the midst of a Black Friday-esque fight over a fucking heart-shaped Father John Misty seven-inch have you second-guessing a visit to a brick and mortar record store, you can still shop locally from the comfort of your own home. It just so happens that Record Store Day falls during Dusty Medical Records’ April-long mega sale. In honor of the Milwaukee label’s 10th anniversary, Dusty has greatly reduced the price on much of its online catalog (a great deal of which is composed of local acts). Score a $12 Platinum Boys LP, $8 records from Space Raft, Midwest Beat or Goodnight Loving, retroactively do yourself a favor and get into The Mistreaters with an array of releases on the cheap, and get seven-inches from Ramma Lamma and Drugs Dragons for less than $4. You can do it all in just your underwear. We’ve come to learn that most physical record shops don’t allow that.
Just when you think the local heroes at WMSE couldn’t do any more to tout in-town talent, the radio station decided it would dip a toe into releasing records. Milwaukee music institution Field Report serves as a great guinea pig for something bandleader Christopher Porterfield says is a “vinyl venture they’ve been dreaming of doing for years.” Taken from Porterfield’s acoustic session he laid down during an on-air performance at the station last October, the Live From The WMSE Studios, Field Report seven-inch will feature a stripped-down version of “Home (Leave The Lights On)” on side one and a cover of John Prine’s “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness” on side two. Hammering home the local love, artist/WMSE DJ Eric Von Munz did the album art. Hopefully this becomes a Record Store Day tradition.
9. Off The Beaten Path
Between Comet and the East Side Exclusive Company, consider stopping at another Farwell Avenue record retailer. Off The Beaten Path will have discounted records and some CDs and cassettes for as little as $1.
10. Blackbird Bar
After you shopped until you drop, take a load off and compare your finds with friends at Blackbird Bar. From 10 p.m. to close, Aaron Miller (AM iller) and Milwaukee Record‘s own Tyler Maas (spinning under the moniker “DJ From Roseanne“) will spin a mishmash of local favorites, punk 45s, nostalgic oddities, and whatever absurd rabbit holes being paid in free alcohol takes them.
Anything we missed? Leave it in the comments.