It’s a sunny and surprisingly mild early morning in mid-April. I’m stood on Queen’s Road in Bristol, behind nine other people in a queue which begins with three camping chairs. I’m a little disappointed that so many people have arrived before me – it’s currently 6:10am – but pleased to know I’ll be in the first twenty allowed in when the doors open at 8. I have a list in my pocket and an iPod in my bag, but they’re my backup plan in the unlikely event that nobody wants to chat about music. Luckily, both those ahead of me and those to arrive soon after are happy to wax lyrical about, er, wax and the relative merits of both the Low and Bill Callahan back catalogues are explored in some detail. It’s now a little after seven and some exceedingly good cakes are passed down the line by the staff as the sun starts to grace us fully with its presence. Various people, or to be specific – men, nip out of the queue to peer through the glass, trying to locate their desired items ahead of opening so as to finalise their plans of attack. With the moment of truth nearly upon us, lists are clenched and muscles flexed ahead of the charge.
And, when the doors did open, it was all perfectly civilised and everyone around me seemed pretty chuffed with their hauls. This was to mark the beginning of what was to become Record Store Week, a largely improvised tour of ten record shops across the South West or thereabouts. Rise Bristol deserve an enormous amount of credit for how they organised, priced and arranged every element of Record Store Day. Having been privy to some of the discussions about where to put stock (“From a geeky perspective, make sure all of the Third Man stuff is with the White Stripes singles”) and how the morning would operate, I’m pleased to report that the experience as a customer was great. I might not be quite so chuffed if I’d got there at eight and found the enormous queue ahead of me, but it’s not like the need to be there early for the special stuff wasn’t made clear in advance. The community spirit was a delight to behold and a number of us were keeping an eye out for various things we knew others wanted. The only brief hint of tension came when I advised a fellow vinyl obsessive about the location of the Doctor Who 7” in earshot of someone rather more manic and slightly less keen on my queue-chum getting hold of this particular item. Luckily, there were two so geek meltdown was narrowly averted.