My photos of the Polkaholics playing Saturday, April 18, at Laurie’s Planet of Sound during Record Store Day. (For more of my Record Store Day photos, see my galleries of Local H as well as Lasers and Fast and Shit at the Reckless Records store on Broadway, and the Tweens at Bric-a-Brac.)
A lot of record stores around Chicago had fun festivities planned on Record Store Day, which was April 19, but I ended up spending most of the day at Laurie’s Planet of Sound in Lincoln Square. At making a morning stop at the store to buy some records, I returned midafternoon. Among the things I missed in the middle of the day was a performance by John Darnielle of Mountain Goats. I’d hoped to see the Lemons, a Chicago band that plays short bubble-gum pop ditties, but they started early and played such short songs that they were finishing up the minute I came through the front door.
But then I was there for a fun afternoon of music, including Phil Angotti and Friends covering the whole Simon & Garfunkel album Sounds of Silence; the solid riffs of Handcuffs; the reunited Chicago punk band Silver Abuse, who shouted goofy songs about dogs and Ron Santo and made a delightful art-noise racket; and Mazes, who artfully shifted from pretty chamber pop melodies into some rocking guitar solos.
Best of all, this was one of those days when a record store feels like a clubhouse where you hang out with friends.
Phil Angotti and Friends
Saturday, April 20, was Record Store Day — not just a chance to buy some special-edition records released for the occasion, but also a great excuse to hang out at a record shop and see some free live musical performances. Yesterday, I shopped in at the Numero Group’s pop-up store at Logan Square’s Comfort Station, and also made a brief stop at Saki. But I spent most of the day at Laurie’s Planet of Sound in Lincoln Square, where the atmosphere was unflaggingly festive.
I didn’t catch all of the live music at Lauries, but the afternoon included three wonderful sets: Edward Burch and the Grand Ennui covering the entirety of Michael Nesmith’s 1972 album And the Hits Just Keep on Comin’; the newly signed Bloodshot Records artist Luke Winslow-King playing acoustic blues with able assistance from washboard/horseshoe player and singer Esther Rose; and Chicago’s esteemed Dolly Varden, playing songs from their great new album For A While plus a few older tunes.
Lincoln Square record shop Laurie’s Planet of Sound has been hosting in-store performances on Thursday evenings in July, and the one last night (July 22) was both fun and bittersweet. Bittersweet because it was the farewell performance by the scrappy garage-rock band Johnny and the Limelites. However, it’s pretty obvious that we haven’t heard the last from Limelites frontman Brian Costello — the guy seems to be everywhere, and he even played bass Thursday in one of the other two bands in the lineup, Brian’s Dirty Business.
In between, yet another bunch of local garage rockers, Mickey, played a short set. All three bands were loud and energetic — their wildness restrained only a little bit by the small space where they were playing. At the end of the night, Costello led a conga line across the street to Ricochets Tavern.
The next in-store show at Laurie’s will be Steve Dawson at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 29.
As far as I’m concerned, every day should be Record Store Day, but as promotional gimmicks go, this is a good one. For three years now, independent record stores around the United States have celebrated the fact that they’re still in existence with a day featuring special records you can buy only on Record Store Day, in-store concerts and whatever festivities the local folks can think up. More than 20 shops in Chicago participated yesterday. Some of these stores had people lined up outside before business opened — fans hoping to snag a copy of something like, say, the clear-vinyl Neko Case LP.
I spent some time shopping, listening to live music and hanging out at Laurie’s Planet of Sound and Permanent Records, also making a brief stop at the Reckless Records in Wicker Park. All three stores were packed with record collectors and music fans for much of the day. Like most people, I buy music online these days, but I still love the experience of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. While it’s true that the Internet has created new kinds of musical communities, there’s still something cool about chatting with a knowledgeable record-store clerk or hearing something interesting on the record-store turntable.
As far as the special collectible stuff on sale yesterday, I limited myself to just one locally produced 7-inch record — the Trouble in Mind label’s single featuring songs by four bands: Ty Segall, CoCoComa, White Wires and Charlie & the Moonhearts. Some good garage-rock on white vinyl. And like a lot of the vinyl releases that indie-rock bands are putting out lately, it came with a code to download mp3 versions of the songs for free. That’s one of the trends now — vinyl releases plus mp3s, without any CD.
At Laurie’s I, um, “caught” Vee Dee. The trio was playing songs off its new double LP, Public Mental Health System. The volume wasn’t quite as high as it usually is during a Vee Dee gig, but the music still rocked with a sort of early-’70s proto-punk sound. Think of the Stooges and bands like that. Earlier, Laurie’s also featured subdued, introspective songs from the singer who calls himself Algebro (a.k.a. Thom Cathcart).
Later in the afternoon, I saw White Mystery perform a rambunctious set of its garage-rock songs at Permanent Records. I know, I know — you’re probably thinking: Hasn’t this guy seen White Mystery three times in the past month or so. Yes, that’s true. I didn’t really plan to see them that many times, but it was still exciting to see them doing their thing, once again.
And it was exciting to see at least a few record stores are still thriving. See my photos of Algebro, Vee Dee and White Mystery playing on Record Store Day.
To celebrate Record Store Day (Aug. 18) I went by my one of my favorite places in Chicago, Laurie’s Planet of Sound late yesterday morning, and by the time I got there, many of the exclusive records being released by bands ranging from the Flaming Lips to Sonic Youth and Beck had already sold out. I managed to snag a copy of the 7-inch single with a Sonic Youth song on one side and a Jay Reatard track on the flip side.
It was really fun and nostalgic to be inside a record store with so many people. Is this just a once-a-year phenomenon? So many record stores have kicked the bucket in recent years, but a few cool ones are surviving, and Laurie’s seemed very much alive yesterday.
Chicago singer-songwriter Azita played a free in-store show a little after noon, playing a Yamaha piano that was crammed into a back corner of the store. The performance felt somewhat impromptu and a little unvarnished — and was all the better for that sense of spontaneity.