Smile Politely

Record Store Day 2012 in review

Saturday marked the 5th annual celebration of an event that I hope stays around for a long time. Record Store Day came and went, and during the time I got to spend at Exile on Main Street throughout the day, the place was buzzing. I assumed I would be trying to file in between people to get around the store, and that is exactly what I got.

Even if you only got to see a few acts, or you were there all day, the store experienced what is undoubtedly its best day of the entire year. I wish I could speak for the entire day, but it’s an unfortunate reality that I couldn’t spend all 12+ hours there. With the help of some, we can recap what we took away from RSD 2012. 

I showed up around 11:30 a.m. and there was already a line out the door trying to get into the store. Luckily, the weather was cooperating and people were out in front as well, browsing through shelves and tables loaded with CDs and LPs. It was interesting to see what people were most excited about and what were hot items to pick up throughout the store. 

I got to Exile right as Mayor Gerard was setting up to play, and got to stay through Take Care’s set, which ended around four p.m. An Evening With Your Mother (left) played some of their tracks off their LP from last year (I think these kids are still in high school, and they definitely look the part). Space Police pumped out some pretty awesome mixes, which had a good amount of The Avalanches infused in it which is always a plus, and Take Care (right) played a thunderous set that was essentially one long jam. I picked up their cassette release (limited to 25), which was wrapped in construction paper with drawings all over them. Wyman told me about the tape the previous night and said it was essentially a 40-minute long track, which is what I believe they played in their set Saturday. That was probably the best thing I bought all day. 

I found myself searching through the stacks of LPs as bands were switching equipment in and out. This is always a day in which your budget flies out the window as soon as you step foot in Exile, but that is acceptable on a day like that. It’s difficult to go past the first shelf of new 7” releases, considering it was filled with The White Stripes, Captain Beefheart, The Small Faces, Pussy Galore, and others. Needless to say I walked away with a handful of those. –– Patrick Singer


I got to Exile at 11:05, and Jeff was outside when I walked up. I greeted him and said that I was here to “hang out.” He knew what I meant, because for the last four years that’s what I’ve done: show up, buy a bunch of music, and the park my butt on his floor all day and listen to the bands. Jeff’s used to me. This year, he said, “There’s a line all the way to the back of the store.” In other words, there’d be no way I’d see anything this year unless I was prepared to stand for hours. I was.

I listened to DJ Mertz while I shopped. I love Mertz. He played great music — some I recognize, more I don’t — remixes and mashups that caused all of us there to dance our way around the store, tapping our hands and feet along with the beat. At one point, he played a record shaped like a triangle, and the song was gorgeous. I wanted to ask him who it was, but I could never get close enough to him, due to the crowd.

Chloe Rose, Marielle McNabney, Don Gerard, and Isaac Arms followed DJ Mertz. Mayor Gerard has a quote on his Facebook page that says, “Reason to love Champaign #382: Our mayor jams with his daughter at Record Store Day.” That’s true. I mean … that’s just the truth. I was chatting with Patrick when Mertz ended his set, and I said, “Don Gerard, his kids, and freaking Isaac Arms are about to play.” And we both took a beat and then burst out laughing because of the awesomeness of it all.

I wish I could remember the name of the band. I know it’s lame that I don’t. But I do know that “REO Speedwagon” is part of it. I have nothing negative to say about Don, Chloe, Marielle, or Isaac. I’ll say this though: it was very cool to see my mayor play in a band (I didn’t live here when he was playing in bands around town) and I was impressed that Isaac was there after his record release party the night before.

The song I remember the most: I don’t know the title, but it’s a tongue-in-cheek satire on American nationalism and our country’s readiness to bomb the hell out of any nation we feel threatened by or simply don’t like. Chloe’s voice was fantastic during this song. They mused on how much easier it would be to simply bomb all of Europe — there’d be more room for all of us; just get rid of the troublesome people, and keep all of the food and beautiful clothes: “A Japanese Kimono for you and Italian shoes for me.” While listening to this Colbert-like humor, I kept thinking, “If this makes YouTube, FOX news will take it seriously and air it, and then Don will get tons of Republican votes next election.”

I also got to hear one of my favorite local rock bands play: Deathtram. They were fantastic, as usual, and played songs off of their new album, s/t, an album that I’m still “getting to know.” And though there seemed to be some sound issues (I couldn’t hear Tram’s vocals), I enjoyed every song. Deathtram is pure rock. They write and create beautiful, meaningful music (Smile Politely will publish a review of s/t this week).  I have seen them quite a few times now, and they never half-ass their performances, whether they’re playing Pygmalion, a local club, or just for free like they were on Saturday. They are so tight, and watching them perform is like watching people who only need to communicate with each other through the instruments they’re playing.

One quibble: Deathtram seems to get so involved in their playing that it sometimes feels like they forget they’re performing for an audience. I don’t know if it’s shyness or concentration, but they look at the ground throughout their set. This, I don’t have a problem with, but at one point during Saturday’s show, Tram, Stick, Dev, and Amy all had their backs to us. Now, I don’t expect dancing and gyrating and mugging and grins from my bands. It’s not a “dance, monkey, dance!” thing for me. I’m just … I don’t know; I don’t want to look at the backs of their heads. I like watching their hands on the strings. For me, watching live shows is different than when I listen to albums. I like to feel part of the show.

It feels petty to complain when I enjoy this band as much as I do. –– Tracy Nectoux


As per usual on the now traditional Record Store Day, the merch-filled walls of Exile on Main Street were shopped and shaken by hundreds of local music lovers and some of the finest local musicians C-U has to offer. I was fortunate enough to arrive during the sweetly heartbreaking acoustic arrangements of Kate and James Hathaway (2/5 of Hathaways). As a collector of vinyl, I could not resist digging through the used records and making off with The Dead Weather’s Sea of Cowards and an original pressing of a live Yes album. Upon my checkout, the building became hot from the breath of seemingly hundreds of people coming in for the Dirty Feathers set. As folks reached for free CDs of the band’s new single (individually numbered and hand painted), the local group unleashed their trademark set of thick fuzz tones and howling rock ‘n roll. –– Sean O’Connor

Photos by Sean O’Connor. Be sure to check out our Facebook page for the whole album of photos from Hathaways and The Dirty Feathers.

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