A special event at the Delmar Loop's premier music store brought in droves of audiophiles this past weekend.
From 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday, hosted Record Store Day, a day of live music and special releases on vinyl records held the third Saturday of April. The sales event to support record stores -- which have greatly declined in recent years due to the rise in digital music -- has spread across the United States and the world since its inception in California.
Vintage Vinyl co-owner Tom "Poppa" Ray was thrilled to see so many customers pack into the store.
"It's become by far our biggest single day of business of the year," Ray said. "It's just a way the independent record store community around the country chooses to say 'We're here to serve the community.'"
While St. Louis-area bands and artists performed outside in the chilly weather, customers perused stacks of records and CDs, DJs spun local music inside from a booth next to the popular free beer table. Tom Schlafly, the owner of Schlafly Beer, donated enough cases of brews to the cause to provide each customer with two free drinks.
The store offered customers a selection of 300 limited edition vinyl records, some CDs and t-shirts and even a puzzle by the band, The Mars Volta. By mid-afternoon, most of the items were already sold out, Ray said.
St. Louis hip hop artists Mathias and Dusty Wallets, along with drummer Grover Stewart and DJ LB, collaborated for a set beginning at 1:45 p.m. Mathias, part of the hip hop group the Earthworms, passed out free tickets for the Talib Kweli concert at Pop's tonight (Tuesday night), which the Earthworms will open.
"It was dope, man," Mathias said. "It's good for the record stores. Vintage Vinyl does nothing but support local music, so it's good to support them back."
While they rapped outside, Jess Luther and the local music bloggers from I Went to a Show held down the DJ booth. Recipients of the Riverfront Times Web Award for Best Music Blog, the bloggers promoted a St. Louis music showcase at Off Broadway.
"Now is a really great time to live in St. Louis, musically," Luther said. "The best way to get local bands recognized national is to support them locally."
The local scene has transformed in the past two to three years, she said. More artists and bands from the Gateway City and the metropolitan are now working together to spread the word about indie music than ever before.
Customers from far and wide waded their way through the crowds to pick up some new music.
Puja Patel and Zach Allen, both University City residents and St. Louis University students, checked the store together for a specific album. Although Vintage Vinyl didn't have Appendage by Circa Survive, the two enjoyed browsing through the store's massive record collection.
"I just like that they're still keeping it up and have a lot of vinyl," Allen said. "I like having something I can hold in my hand rather than digital music."
Records sound better, too, Patel added.
Matt Gannon of Des Peres and Rob Scheman of St. Louis attended more for the ambience than the special releases.
"I like vinyl, but I don't own a turntable, so I come for the CDs," Gannon said. "I come to the shop to get away from West County. It's a hip place."
"This is my first Record Store Day," Scheman said. "It's busy. It's cool. I haven't been here in a long time."
Scheman said the occasion made for some good people-watching.
University of Missouri St. Louis Professor April Regester has attended Record Store Day in previous years while living in California, but this was her first time since moving to St. Louis.
"It's more connected to community than a Border's," Regester said.