Thanks to Napster, Steve Jobs, and the overlords of the Internet, we all live in an increasingly immaterial world where the only acceptable way to package, market, and consume music is the ubiquitous MP3 or some comparable digital audio-encoding format.
It's getting pretty lonely out here for the few fanatical fools still buying physical copies of their favorite albums. And that's exactly why we so desperately need an international holiday like Record Store Day and an ultralocal one like Sweatstock. It's time to save the freaking music!
Officially, the rescue mission began in the spring of 2007 when a glorious dude with the not-so-glorious name of Chris Brown came up with the genius idea to set aside 24 hours per annum for the celebration and preservation of CDs, vinyl, the indie ethos, local scenes, and your endangered neighborhood music outlet. With the help of six friends — Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave, and Brian Poehner — Record Store Day was born. And only four years later, it's being observed by more than 700 music merchants across these United States of America and beyond.
No surprise, Miami's own Sweat Records didn't wait long to join the party or the fight. As one of the psychic centers of our city's music scene and every local hipster's preferred source for sonic swag, the Little Haiti shop is the perfect place for bands, promoters, record nerds, groupies, and the like to come together and chant in unison: "Save the freaking music!"
So, yes, from the very beginning, Sweat's Lolo Reskin and her partners were down with the cause. But like every indie record store, her shop has seen a ton of struggle. And by necessity, the celebrations started small.
"We had a party for Record Store Day, and we had an anniversary party every year," Reskin says. "But we've definitely had some ups and downs. Our first location was destroyed eight months into being open. We moved into a temp space. Had a huge burglary. We really just wanted to open up and sell some records. But we had to deal with all these giant setbacks.
"So the fifth year was when we were finally like, 'Let's go! Let's throw a block party!' We were just settled enough. It was nice to finally be in one location for more than two years without anything insane happening."
Now if you weren't part of the throng, this block party to which Reskin refers is the first Sweatstock, a 1,200-person outdoor minifestival staged April 17, 2010, in the parking lot adjacent to her store. Made possible in part by Sweat's grant money from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, it was a day of communal snacks, outdoor drinking, and awesome noise by Los Angeles fuzz-pop outfit No Age as well as locals such as Otto Von Schirach, ANR, Jacuzzi Boys, Rachel Goodrich, Panic Bomber, and Juan BassHead.
"Last year's Sweatstock was one of the best days of Sweat history, period. No Age were the nicest dudes ever. They were thrilled as hell to be playing a block party at a vegan record store," Reskin laughs. "And not one thing went awry. Clouds hovered over the festival, and there were droplets for fifteen seconds, and then it moved on. It was just perfect."
Whoa. That's pretty heavy praise. And it makes you wonder: Can this year's sophomore edition even hope to equal the epicness of the original? Well, for her part, Lolo isn't doubting Sweatstock 2011's potential. "We've got some really cool improvements this year," she says, making sure to point out the fest's expansion to four stages and the fact that the sprawling 36-name lineup is "1,000 percent local."
With headliners Panic Bomber and Beings (plus Deaf Poets, ArtOfficial, Lil Daggers, Furious Dudes, Guy Harvey, Teepee, the Getback, Rat Bastard, Slashpine, and others) joining the fight for our universal right to collect records, expect an all-day blitz inside Sweat, on the parking lot main stage, and next door at Churchill's Pub. There'll also be a bunch of nonmusical bonuses: storytelling by Pure Imagination and O, Miami; artsiness by FriendsWithYou, the Borscht Film Festival, and Coral Morphologic; comedy by Casa de Ha-Ha; complimentary Heineken for the first 500 Sweatstockers; and food truck grub from Mac'n, Purple People Eatery, Gastropod, and Raaga Cart.
But as much as we like literature, fine art, funny stuff, free beer, and gourmet burgers, this is Record Store Day, and it's really all about CDs, vinyl, the indie ethos, local scenes, and your endangered neighborhood purveyor of excellent tuneage.
So one last time, together: Save the freaking music!