“It’s the best day of the year, better than Christmas”
It’s 7.37am at Manchester’s legendary Piccadilly Records. Customers have been queuing quite literally around the block since yesterday afternoon, and there is a sense of anticipation in the air as the 8am opening time edges ever closer.
Today is like no other Saturday for Piccadilly Records, today is the biggest day in the calendar for the UK’s independent record stores – today is Record Store Day.
Now in its 10th year, Record Store Day has grown from a relatively niche operation launched in defiance of the grip downloads had over the music industry in 2007 to a full-scale national event. BBC 6Music are covering the day live from locations all over the country, Elton John has been commemorated as the first ever Record Store Day Legend, even Little Mix have realised the power of a physical product - introducing vinyl to a younger generation with a limited pressing of their chart-topping album ‘Glory Days’.
The first customer in the Piccadilly Records queue arrived at 5.30pm on the Friday decked out with a heavy winter coat, camping chair and a bag brimmed full of food and drink supplies. This isn’t an unusual sight. Record stores across the country take to Twitter with imagery of the queues starting to form outside from Friday afternoon, a queue that for many remains steady right until mid-Saturday afternoon.
8.00am at Piccadilly Records and the doors open. Vinyl junkies flock to the new Record Store Day releases, eager to get their hands on the limited editions they have queued so patiently overnight for.
For some, Record Store Day has become a sport. Serious vinyl fans feel a real sense of urgency knowing that many RSD releases have a certain number of pressings, with no shop guaranteed a particular allocation. Many customers clutch well-pondered shopping lists lest they forget about a particular release before it leaves the racking forever.
8.20am and customers start to emerge, Piccadilly Records bags bulging. One customer is rumoured to have spent £940 and the queue is alive with chatter about whether the much-wanted The Smiths RSD pressing featuring previously unheard demos will have sold out yet.
Similar scenes have taken place across the capital, with Soho’s Berwick Street – home to Sister Ray and Sounds of the Universe Records amongst others – and Rough Trade in East London among the many reporting vast numbers of customers queuing up prepared to hunt down their RSD wish list.
As the day continues, the urgency of early morning queuing gives way to a more relaxed carnival-style vibe. In-store events happen across the country from 11 am with the likes of Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, reggae legend Rodigan and BBC6 Music’s Mark Riley all DJing in various record shops, alongside a plethora of local bands playing in their local record shop country-wide.
From 2pm customers congregate with beers outside Flashback Records in East London, some preferring to buy from the shop’s extensive collection of used and vintage vinyl instead of the specific Record Store Day releases.
Down the road in Hoxton, dance and funk-orientated Love Vinyl has a sound system booming, with customers spilling down the street. Polite notices line railings and walls reminding Record Store Day attendees that the shop is located in a residential area and to politely use the shop’s lone toilet should nature call instead of the surrounding side streets or neighbouring doorways.
Record Store Day 2017 customers:
"The Who LP is my fave, I grew up listening to them with me dad so think they're mint"
"We love Record Store Day, it's the best day of the year...better than Christmas"
"My favourite purchase today was this Don Blackman LP, it’s the original neo-soul record"
“I got the last Metronomy album, I’m a fan but haven’t listened to this one much yet”