In no way was I prepared for my first Record Store Day. It was 10:30 a.m. on the third Saturday of April 2011 and Amoeba Music in Berkeley contained the energy of a crowded general admission show, the kind with determined concert-goers who have no qualms about pushing to the front of the stage. Squeezing down the aisles just to look for a specific release, let alone getting my hands on one, was out of the question. I left without a note of music in hand.
When Record Store Day (RSD) rolls around on Saturday, April 20, you can avoid this fate. RSD — the annual celebration of brick-and-mortar music stores that includes limited-quantity releases and in-store events — has been known to drive fans into a consumer craze comparable to Black Friday. But with some luck and a little preparation, you may find what you’re looking for or at least have fun hunting for it. To survive, here’s what to expect from the East Bay’s six participating stores: Amoeba and Rasputin in Berkeley, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland, Mod Lang and Down Home Music Store in El Cerrito, and Donnie’s Records in Albany:
1) 1-2-3-4 Go! Records (420 40th St., Oakland)
1-2-3-4 Go! specializes in punk, so it’s the best bet for RSD’s harder rock releases, but the selection is diverse, with plenty of indie rock and classic albums. Keep an eye out for things like the Stooges and Black Keys’ seven-inch split No Fun, or the re-issue of Pussy Galore’s Groovy Hate Fuck. The back room performance space will function as a separate record store with all RSD releases and a second register to expedite the process. No live performances. Coffee and donuts will be available in the morning, and food trucks will park outside throughout the day.
Special RSD hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
2) Amoeba Music (2455 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley)
Amoeba is a titan of indie record stores, and with its large collection, it’s a good place to hunt for almost any RSD item. It can be a madhouse, but there are rules to the game: People waiting in line will receive an orientation about the store’s setup to reduce any chaos. Buy something early to get a gift bag.
Noon — KALX DJs will DJ throughout the event.
3:00 p.m. — The 45 Sessions DJ series will play a special RSD set.
3) Rasputin Music (2401 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley)
Like Amoeba, Rasputin will also receive many releases and it’s likely that they’ll have something you want.
4:00 p.m. — Bay Area metal thrashers Testament will do an in-store signing.
4) Mod Lang (6328 Fairmount Ave., El Cerrito)
Mod Lang specializes in UK releases and imports, but owner Naomi Diamond explained that UK Record Store Day releases are exclusive to that region. No in-store performances.
5) Down Home Music Store (10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito)
Down Home Music store specializes in roots music — so if you know you want Bob Dylan or Buddy Guy, this is your place for that slice of Americana.
6) Donnie's Records (1061 Eastshore Hwy, Albany)
In line with the unpredictable nature of RSD, Donnie’s Records will be closed on the actual day of the event (for personal reasons), which means there’ll be a whole shipment of untouched RSD releases when it opens up again the next week.