Ah, Record Store Day. I'll save the rant for why a day like this is even necessary for fear of turning into that cranky old man I always knew I'd become one day. I do try to make it out to some of the local record shops when I can to keep my music buying money in the community, but with legendary local stores like Record Time closing this year, and great stores like Desirable Discs in Dearborn and Off The Record in Royal Oak but a distant memory, it gets harder and harder.
The important thing is there are still plenty of indie record stores in the metro Detroit area, both worthy of your time and money in this age of digital downloads and disposable music. After plunking down a bunch of cash at Dearborn Music, we headed to the newest store in the area for your record buying needs, UHF in Royal Oak. UHF specializes in vinyl, with plenty of new releases in addition to the classics and rare, vintage titles. There is a small section of used CD's, but this is a store for the vinyl enthusiast for sure, and by catering to this niche, UHF stands a strong chance to make it long term.
In addition to the many exclusive Record Store Day titles the store had in stock, UHF also put on a day's worth of live performances from local acts including Ryan Allen, The Octopus and Dennis Coffey with Will Sessions. The live music lineup closed with a set by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., fresh off continuing their climb into national consciousness opening for Tapes 'n Tapes and a much talked about week of shows at SXSW. With a headlining tour starting in May, and their first full length album due in June already getting a ton of attention, it was a great opportunity to see these guys in a small setting.
For their UHF set, Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott stripped the DEJJ songs down, not exactly an acoustic performance, but minus a lot of the noisier electronics elements and heavier beats they normally use. Both played guitar and Epstein triggered samples and played keyboard at times, while a drum machine kept the beat on a few tracks. It was a different way to hear their songs performed and made for a unique set.
They opened with "Morning Thought", the first single from the forthcoming "It's A Corporate World". "Simple Girl", with both on guitar, was next before they did the title track from their album. My two favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. tracks were next, "Skeletons" and "Ugly Person On A Movie Screen". It's impossible to not be singing the latter's "Na na na na" chorus for days after hearing it. Yes, it is that infectious. The duo planned to close with the song that first brought them attention, "Nothing But Our Love", but Epstein joked he felt they owed everyone one more song after a particularly loud, nasty burst of feedback occurred earlier in the set. So they closed with the wonderful "Vocal Chords".
Obviously there are limitations to playing in a small space, especially a record store and not a regular concert venue. But people were packed in the store like sardines and all seemed to enjoy the roughly half hour, seven song set. The two seemed to be having a good time as well, cracking jokes and thanking everyone there, with Epstein giving a sincere thanks to UHF for arriving on a scene that sees more record stores close than open these days. I implore anyone who cares about music enough to spend their hard earned money to get out there and support your local record stores, especially in metro Detroit.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will be performing locally again April 29 as part of a fund raising event for local public radio station WDET at The Crofoot in Pontiac. More info about that show here. They are also planning an album release show for Detroit sometime in June. No word yet on a date or venue, but I'll post the information once it is announced. That will certainly be a night not to be missed.