Record Store Day Drops, August 2020

Record Store Day, Part Deux.

A reminder of what was supposed to be.

A pandemic cannot stop the music.

Originally Record Store Day 2020 set its sights for April 18th, 2020, but it turns out that it is no immovable object. The unstoppable force that is COVID-19 ensured that the day would be delayed. Record Store Day became RSD Drops spread amongst three different weekends in the late Summer and Autumn. The releases being spread out allows for fans to plan their purchases intelligently to avoid a large crowd. The first date for the RSD Drops is August 25th.

The experience of a global event during a pandemic is best described as unsettling. The store I chose to go to is the Exchange in Sandusky, and I only had my eyes on a single record – Cherry Bomb by Tyler, the Creator. I arrived about an hour before the store opened to scope out any potential crowds and lines. If it were too busy, I was going to cut my losses and head home. Fortunately, nobody was there yet so I decided to park and wait outside the door. A single person beat me to the first place in line, but I was not too worried. Standing in line during a perfect August morning with a slight breeze behind my back while the suburban crowd swarms Starbucks left me feeling as if there were no pandemic at all. This is the first time in months that I went shopping for records.

About 30 minutes until opening, more people show up. Two baby boomers arrive separate of each other, but quickly reminisce about the good old days of buying records in downtown Detroit for $5 an album. The record snob in me is wanting to jump out with a “well actually” when one of the boomers says that old thinner records sound better than 180-gram discs. I am in no mood to argue so I just giggle to myself, pretending I saw something funny on my phone. 15 minutes until opening – and now the store employees show up. Since I am a regular customer at this store, I recognize every one of these guys. I have nicknames for them in my head, and this morning The Cure was the first to show up.

10 minutes until opening, and more people arrive to wait in line. We are all six feet apart and wearing masks, which reminds me that we are indeed in the middle of a pandemic. The last people to show up arrive in a mid-aughts Ford Focus with a “GOLF” bumper sticker. Out of the car comes a gaggle of skinny white teenagers, head to toe in the latest fashions. They are clearly here for the Cherry Bomb release.

To the victor, goes the spoils.

The time has finally come to go in the store, and The Cure tells everybody that only two people at a time will be allowed to browse the bins. There are extra barriers in place between the customers and the employees, no expense spared for public protection. The young woman that made it in line before me makes it to the first set of bins, while I am corralled to the second set. After flipping three records forward, I find what I am looking for, Cherry Bomb. Immediately I take the record to the register, and the employees make small talk about the record. We talk about how it is unusual that this is the first pressing, the quality of the many bootlegs of the record, and how one of their coworkers wanted to buy this. Sadly, this is the only copy of Cherry Bomb that made it to the store.

I see the group of teenage-Tyler fans frantically scour the bins looking for any shred of the records existence, but hope is dashed when they see me leave. I genuinely feel bad for the young fans missing out on the release, as it is something that should not be as limited as it is.

It has been a month since that day, and fortunately I managed to steer clear of COVID-19. I felt a glimmer of hope that one day the world will begin to feel normal again and I can shop for records without worrying about contracting a deadly disease. Until then, I do not plan on returning to any stores or any additional RSD Drops that are planned for September or October. Cherry Bomb is more than enough for me at this time.

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Jose Diaz

Collector of analog media.

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