Record Store Day Report – Flashback Records- True Independents
In case you haven’t seen Underground’s last post about Record Store Day 2019 or have been living under a rock for 11 years, the annual event was last weekend. For those who don’t know RSD is a yearly celebration of everything vinyl culture, honouring record stores and the key role they play in communities worldwide. This year, the selection of limited records was at an exciting high and the number of events to attend made it hard to choose which act to go and check out. Nonetheless, if Underground had to choose we would have chosen Flashback Record’s Shoreditch branch’s instore event hands down… oh wait we did!
If you don’t know Flashback Records, they are an independent record store which specialises in the infinite possibilities that comes with recycling records. As you can imagine, offering the chance for lucky shoppers to get their hands-on limited-edition items is Flashback Records’ forte – they made RSD look like a walk in the park. While Flashback celebrated RSD in all three of their stores (Islington, Crouch End and Shoreditch), Underground was allured by their instore show in the Shoreditch branch for a post day-time continuation of the annual celebrations, because nothing seemed more suited to us an intimate live performance literally under the ground.
‘Record Store Day more broadly lends to a spurt interest, and that’s nice to be involved in especially since the decline of the high-street and the closure of many independent retailers.’ -Edgar at Flashback Records.
Playing in the small underground floor of Flashback was a short but sweet-as-a-Cherry B line-up made up of bands Benedict Benjamin and Handstand Parade. The sound of Benedict Benjamin was what you were first met with when heading into the romantically decorated downstairs of Flashback Records. Formed of five humbly ethereal musicians, Benedict Benjamin is headed by Ben Rubinstein as his first project front-manning his own band. Despite the band’s history going back all the way to 2016, their performance on RSD was the first introduction for me and maybe a handful of others tucked away in the shadows, leaning against crates of records. And while it’s true that Sometimes these kinds of events can be hit or miss, Benedict Benjamin’s set was an unexpectedly sublime slap to the face that made you wonder where they’d been all your life.
They performed a setlist full of tracks from their debut album Night Songs, such as ‘Thin Skin’ and ‘Better Man’ – ‘a song about realising you can be a bit of dick sometimes’ says Ben –, as well as new releases ‘The Way You Talk To Waiters’ and ‘Ain’t Easy’. With roots firmly buried in indie-folk music, Benedict Benjamin could certainly be categorised long side figure-heads of this genre such as Ben Howard, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Iron & Wine, however mixed in with these folk motifs is 60s-esque psyche rock sounds reminiscent of luminaries Jefferson Airplane and perhaps even Grateful Dead. This combination finds each instrument immaculately fused together but also easily detectable, from bass to guitar to even the tiniest shaker. Chucking in a cheeky comedic number titled ‘Motherfucker’ which Ben described as being about parenthood, their set was a delight to stumble upon and practically be a part of given the proximity.
The other half of the line-up came from four-piece Handstand Parade who hail from Reading. Looking ever so dashing behind rose covered mic stands, these boys were ready to party at 8 pm. With their dancing shoes on Handstand Parade played songs both old and new, and invited the audience to get just as groovy as their frontman Shaquille Howe – who certainly had the moves. While the band have been playing music since 2012, they only released their first track five-years after. However, with time comes a maturity that makes a sound tangier and stronger like a fine cheddar and that’s clearly what’s happened for this lot.
Staying true to their background in indie-pop, the foursome has clearly grown up on indie-music of the 00s which seemingly slips them quite nicely next to musicians such as 1975, The Neighbourhood or Circa Waves who all have been fed by a similar musical spoon. Clearly ingesting only the finer parts of their musical influences, Handstand Parade utilises post-punk bass overtones alongside heavily pedalled guitars and Korg keyboard for a more bubblegum pop vibe. Content with what they heard but not confident enough to as boogying with the band, the audience responded with coy but appreciative cheers once the set was over.
Overall, despite there being a vast difference between the two performing bands what they both did was embody what lies at the heart of RSD: blurring the lines between listener and musician inside the womb of their mutual bearer – the record store.
But of course, RSD isn’t just about the bands or the records for that matter, it’s also about the people who are behind the counters keeping the stores a well-oiled machine. Speaking to Edgar, who works in Flashback Records Shoreditch, he described the importance of RSD as a way ‘to generate more interest in record stores’ even if it has moved in to more mainstream territories. He also told us that while the day might take a lot more prep and longer work hours it all becomes worth it when ‘people are queuing at 8.30am and there were more people than the years before’. It also gives it workers the chance to get a tasty bonus and the beers in with a couple bands!
Record Store Day in all its glory is over for this year, and while it always a ‘roll of the dice, what you’re going to get’, it never fails to be a fun way to catch some live music and justify treating yourself to a new record. But remember, record stores aren’t just for the day… they are for life.
Always support your local retailers.
Flashback Records: https://www.facebook.com/flashbacklondon/
Benedict Benjamin: https://www.facebook.com/benedictbenjaminsongs/
Handstand Parade: https://www.facebook.com/handstandparade/
Words by Aimee Williams-Maynard