On Saturday, Death came to Deep Ellum. Adorned in black attire, the skeleton-man stopped at 617 Good-Latimer Expressway, presumably to declare the death of something--perhaps the entire district, though more likely just the former home of Good Records, which would close down that evening--but he was quickly distracted.
"Hey, Death! Get up here!"
The Deathray Davies' lead singer John Dufilho ordered the harbinger of doom to approach the stage, and Death pushed through the crowd to rock out to the band's performance, part of an all-day send-off for the old location and a celebration of Good Records' sixth birthday. In the end, Death's long, bony fingers didn't reach out and touch any clerks or musicians; instead, Death raised those fingers to the air as rock horns.
Nothing resembled mourning at the birthday party--if anything, the packed-to-extremes crowd was ready for the move to get over with. So was clerk C.J. Davis--"We've so outgrown this place," he said while catching a breath of fresh air between bands.
The notion of an expanding independent record store is pretty bewildering in this oft-lamented era of the music biz. Companies blame reduced sales on everything but their product, but Good Records must not be suffering--not only are they still standing after six years, they're moving to a new two-story building on Lower Greenville Avenue, complete with an expanded 22-foot stage for in-store concerts.
That last part is the key. Any record shop can have a good selection, quality listening stations and a courteous, musically inclined staff, but in-store concerts are the difference between a place to shop and a memorable hang-out. Even better, the in-store concert doesn't discriminate about age--high schoolers who don't have fake IDs and parents who don't have babysitters are equally welcome.
Good Records' most fruitful in-store years were during my college tenure outside of Dallas, which meant I missed a huge boatload of 'em, like Baboon's rare acoustic show in 2001, the Cursive in-store that everyone plowed through a rare Dallas snowstorm to see and the time [DARYL]'s Dylan Silvers fell off the tiny stage. Even though I missed good acts like My Morning Jacket and bad ones like Dashboard Confessional, I got my first taste of great locals like Midlake and Day of the Double Agent at Good, and other amazing in-store performances forced me to fall for out-of-towners like Avec, Japancakes and Solex.
A few other memorable shows:
Queens of the Stone Age, summer 2000: Shortly after the release of Rated R, the still-somewhat-unknown QOTSA attracted so many biker sluts to Good that I thought the Polyphonic Spree had become a ZZ Top cover band overnight.
Chomsky, summer 2001: Only Glen Reynolds could turn a "special acoustic concert" celebrating the release of Onward Quirky Soldiers into a dance-off freak-out.
Jay Bennett and Edward Burch, summer 2002: When I told Jay that I couldn't make his show later that night because of a date, he countered by putting me on the guest list and pretending to be my "old buddy" when I arrived at the Gypsy Tea Room. I took him up on the offer. The date wasn't impressed.
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Rilo Kiley, fall 2004: Shortly before becoming the hippest lead singer in the cosmos, Jenny Lewis led a bonfire-style sing-along on "With Arms Outstretched," and indie-rock kids held hands and played nice for about three minutes.
Good Records' Sixth Birthday, February 2006: This show was an exclamation point on what I've been saying all along--local music is still damn good. Scenesters and newcomers alike were blown away by the acoustic mastery of the Theater Fire, the scorching blues-rock of jetscreamer, the improvised hip-hop insanity of former SMU student Astronautilus and a thunderous set of new songs by Record Hop. The lineup made the cold weather and overcrowded store worth enduring.
Davis promises that the new store will be open on Friday--"there might still be stuff on the floor, but the doors will be open," he says, and the upcoming in-store calendar is packed thanks to so many bands driving through Dallas en route to SXSW in March.
Though the store's move away from Deep Ellum has been called "symbolic" of the neighborhood's woes, let's be realistic; nobody ever walked all the way from Curtain Club to Good. Foot traffic on Lower Greenville will help Good Records pull in a few more customers, but otherwise, as long as the place doesn't move to Plano, Good Records' expansion will boost the Dallas music scene across the board. Just don't let that in-store calendar get thin, guys. Teens and parents are counting on you.