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Among the Smelly

Monday September 12, 2005

If you've never been to a record show, then you don't really know how bad people in a civilized nation can smell. Sure, compared to some places on God's accursed Earth there are smellier congregations, but without leaving the first world, you'd be hard pressed to corral a population as stinky as the bearded and bespectacled browsers rifling through milk crates of dusty LPs at any given record show.

Normally, I only attend one show a year, that being the Rock And Roll Expo in King of Prussia, PA, held annually on Thanksgiving weekend. The Expo is kinda like Christmas to me, except that I have to buy all the presents myself. In times past, before the Internet made it easy to find any CD or LP you could ever want, the Rock and Roll Expo was my chance to catch up on a year's worth of exotic imports or neglected oldies. Now, I pretty much shop for catalog titles that I wouldn't even consider buying under normal circumstances, but for $2 a disc, even I can be convinced that I need the complete Winger discography.

Anyway, astute readers will have realized by now that it's only September, and the RnRE is months off. Well met! Indeed, the occasion for this post was my first trip to the Pennsylvania Record Show, held monthly in the gymnasium of some Catholic high school in Lancaster, PA. Yes, I found myself yesterday afternoon in the belly of the Amish Beast shopping for music, amidst the typical crowd of lonely and bitter old men who live for Elvis 45s and Hawkwind bootlegs. I went with my old friend Rich, who had been to the show once before. I didn't know what to expect, but I took $100 with me just in case things worked out better than planned. As it turned out, I was able to spend almost my entire budget in the course of an hour and a half. While the show primarily catered to vinyl addicts, there were plenty of CD vendors as well, and their wares were almost to the last highly discounted. I paid $5 for some CDs, but most were gotten for less.

I realize that music-haul stories are probably not high on most people's lists of desirable reading, so I will keep it brief and recount only the finest of my finds. The first CD vendor I came across actually had a pretty decent selection of heavy metal, but virtually every CD in his stock was a promotional copy. I don't have any ethical problems with the buying and selling of these ostensibly "loaned" discs (if you look at the promotional notice on most such discs, you'll find language to the effect that the disc remains the property of the record label and must be returned on demand. Despite this dire warning, I'm fairly certain no promotional disc has ever been recalled), I do have a problem with paying $10 for a disc with a giant hole punched in the barcode and with a creased tray card. This guy even had the gall to ask $12 for the new Bruce Dickinson reissues, despite the black marker on the barcodes. The thief! Anyway, I had come to the show expecting to not find much good metal and had decided in advance to concentrate on finding cheap jazz discs, so to this end I perused the vendor's crate of box-sets, and what should I find, but a brand new, shrinkwrapped boxset of all five Dave Brubeck Quartet Time CDs. There was a small promo sticker on the underside of the box, but the CDs themselves were wrapped and unmarked in any way. The set was priced at $32.95, but I figured I'd really do as the Romans do and try to beat the dealer down a little. "$30 for this?" I asked nonchalantly. He eyed the box, but with little fanfare relented. "Sure. Why not." Woo hoo! Though I ended up buying quite a few more CDs, this box set is clearly the grand score of the day, as this complete list of titles purchased will indicate :

  • Dave Brubeck Quartet : For All Time boxset
    • Time Out
    • Time Further Out
    • Countdown : Time in Outer Space
    • Time Changes
    • Time In
  • McLaughlin, DiMeola, DeLucia : Friday Night in San Fransisco
  • U2 : War
  • Duran Duran : Notorius
  • Eric B. and Rakim : Don't Sweat the Technique
  • Dio : Lock Up the Wolves
  • Living Colour : Vivid
  • King's X : Ear Candy
  • White Lion : Pride
  • Dokken : Tooth and Nail
  • Dokken : Under Lock and Key
  • Dokken : Back for the Attack

There's no need to upbraid me in the comments for buying so many shitty hair metal CDs. I feel as bad about buying three Dokken discs as anyone possibly could, but Rich insisted that I should have some Dokken in my collection, and not wanting to have to do this again, I bit the bullet and bought all three supposedly "good" Dokken discs. I haven't listened to them yet, but I'm not too hopeful that the experience will make me feel any better about myself. As for White Lion - Vito Bratta was a great guitarist, and Mike Tramp's vocals are endearing despite themselves, so bite me.

Lastly, I didn't feel like I could leave an event like this without partaking in the vinyl love. I asked a few vendors if they had any Bennie Maupin albums, but no one did, so I had to make do with a John McLaughlin LP called Extrapolation. I listened to this first thing when I got back home and was happy with my purchase, except for that one skip on side A. Grr. Such are the risks one runs when buying ancient jazz records, though!

I had a good time shopping for music at ye olde Pennsylvania Record Show and will definitely head back some time in the future, preferably early enough in the morning to really pour over the vinyl. And you can be sure that I'm not going to shower in advance.

Posted by Matt at 08:31 PM | Comments (2)

Chopped in Half!

Thursday September 8, 2005

It felt like I hadn't been to The Trocadero in a long time. It had probably been over a month, which is the longest I've gone Trocless in years, I think, so I dutifully drove into Chinatown last night to see Napalm Death and Obituary. A death metal wednesday! We left pretty late - after 8:00 pm - hoping to miss Napalm Death, whom I've seen a dozen times and who are unfailingly dull (except for Barney's spastic manchild stage moves, which are moderately funny for a few minutes), but alas, we got there just minutes before ND started their set. To the bar, then! I usually drink Woodchuck cider at The Troc because they have it on tap, and it's usually Dark and Dry, which is the best, but last night it was Pear, which is a little icky. I didn't think to inquire about the flavor, though, and so it was Pear that I drank. That didn't make Napalm Death's set go by any easier, although I think I did hear a little of "Suffer the Children," the only Napalm Death song that I really like. I took Nancy downstairs to see Barney's nervous-tic-style stage presence, thinking their set was almost over, but they just never got off the stage! They played for over an hour, which is unconscionable.

After they did finally get the hell off the stage, the changeover for Obituary was not too long, although we were both feeling pretty antsy. Nancy, I think, just didn't feel like standing around at a show, and I was only moderately excited about Obituary, having just seen them a couple months ago at the Louder Harder Faster fest in Allentown. The new album is listenable, but really not too good. I'm beginning to think that the appeal of Obituary is entirely nostalgic - if you weren't there to hear them in 1990, you're not going to fall in love with Cause of Death now, just like I'm never going to come around to loving Frozen in Time. When all was said and done, though, the show was not bad, and the setlist was surprisingly different from the one they played in Allentown, if not exactly for the better. They played at least four songs from the new album, at least one song each from the last two (both of which sucked), three (I think) from Cause of Death, and two from Slowly We Rot, although it's a given that they'll play the title track from that album to close the show. I should have thought it would be a given that they'd play "The End Complete" from the album of that name, but not only did they not play that song, they didn't play any songs from that disc. The mind boggles! The End Complete is not a great album, but it's reportedly one of the best selling death metal albums ever, and the title track got a lot of airplay on Headbanger's Ball back in the day. That song also has one of the greatest codas ever, and it's a blast live (you'd have to hear it, but there are a LOT of dramatic cymbal catches, which are always cool). Obituary subscribe to the "leave them wanting more" school of setlist prep, though, and while I would have liked to have heard "The End Complete," I was still pretty happy that their set was only an hour long.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the crazy chick that spent the whole night moshing by herself. She wore a broken pair of glasses that was in fact just one lens and one half a frame. Nancy thought at first that she was wearing a monocle, which would have been the coolest thing ever. As it was, she danced around, holding the glass to her face, clearly high on something other than life and/or metal, while various overweight men oogled her. One meathead with a mohawk who was checking her out was treated to a gingerly raised middle finger. Good times! Nancy and I both hope that this girl becomes another of the regulars that we see at many shows, to be counted among the likes of Drunk Girl, The Wanderer, and Horsehead. I wonder if all of these people recognize me and think, "Hey, there's Coroner Shirt," or possibly something less flattering. I hope so!

Posted by Matt at 05:15 PM | Comments (2)

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