Not So Good: The Reasons Why Last Weekend's National Record Store Day Celebration Was Cut Short

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When reached by phone, Bruce Richardson is a little timid. That's understandable: Richardson doesn't want to go down as The Man Whose Complaints Shut Down Good Records' Party.

"I'm just a guy who called and said I had noise coming into my house and followed up on it," he says. "It was just incredibly loud inside my home. It was as if [the concert] was next door."

And, as such, multiple times over the course of Good Records' Ninth Birthday Bash/National Record Store Day Celebration, Richardson was one of apparently two area residents to call the police and file noise complaints. Yes, he also sent a direct email to Deputy Chief Vincent Golbeck, commander of the Dallas Police Department's Central Patrol Division, too.

For this, Richardson feels no remorse. After all, as the secretary and one of the founding members of the Lowest Greenville West Neighborhood Association maintains, this is how Golbeck has instructed all neighborhood association members to react when handling noise complaints in their parts of town.

But, make no mistake, Richardson, a musician and sound engineer himself, does feel badly about ending Saturday's live music event.

"I'm not pleased with any of it," he says. "It's one of the most unfortunate situations imaginable."

The situation, though, is a fairly simple one. Given the way Good Records' stage was set up at the edge of the parking lot, the speakers were aimed inward toward the record store. That set-up, says Richardson, who had previous been unaware of a concert happening at Good on Saturday, was reflecting the noise right into his Richmond Avenue home, where he's lived since 1992.

"I don't think it was intentional on any level," Richardson says, "but it was a perfect reflection."

Curious about what was creating the noise, Richardson filed a complaint and then walked over to Good to see what was happening. He never, however, approached any store employees about his issue with the noise.

That's where Chris Penn, manager of Good Records, takes issue with Richardson's actions.

"If he would've talked to me, I would've offered to put him in a hotel and had him get some dinner or something," Penn says. 

Instead, Penn just had to deal with the police. And, as a result, at around five o'clock, after already turning the music down once per police request, Penn moved the music from the outside stage to the make-shift one in the former Beagle Room location next to Good. Penn wasn't pleased about being forced to do so, but he knew he had to.

"The permit we got had a couple of loopholes," Penn says. "One, they don't give you a decibel level, so anything can be too loud. Second, with any complaint, you can get shut down."

But Penn also knew what everyone else knew: When Erykah Badu was set to arrive a few hours later, neither the Beagle Room nor Good Records' inside stage would be able to accomodate her audience. She just had to play on the outside stage.

Here, though, is where Deputy Chief Golbeck sides with Richardson. In fact, Golbeck says, the Badu performance should never have happened at all.

"If we had fully known the facts... on the size that this party was going to be, we would not have had [the permit] approved," Golbeck explains. "We're just thinking, 'OK, a little party for a record store? Sure.' But they brought Erykah Badu in. It was a lot bigger than we were told it would be. The fire inspector probably should have been called."

As a result, no more than half an hour after her set began at 9:45 p.m, the police threatened to pull the plug on the outdoor stage. And though Badu verbally addressed the police when launching into what would be her final song ("Y'all better not pull that plug when we start!" she said), the cops off to the side of the stage made it clear that the song had to be her last. After she was finished, the outdoor stage was closed down, the indoor performances were temporarily halted (The Crash That Took Me, Starlight Mints and The Hooded Dear did perform later in the evening on the inside stage, contrary to earlier reports) and Penn was served a ticket for "breaching the peace."

"We did put in stipulations [in the permit] that I know [Penn] was in violation of," Golbeck says. For one, Golbeck continues, any complaint about the noise meant the outdoor stage had to be immediately shut down, which it wasn't. And, second, the permit required that Good have four off-duty cops in place at its event. Golbeck says there was just one. Also, as the permit permit application Good Records filed for the event shows, the paperwork said no more than 400 attendees would be in attendace at the show.

"If the promoter had been forthright in what they were doing, we probably could have come to an agreement," Golbeck adds.

Even so, Penn maintains that there was nothing wrong with his event.

"Not to use the word 'beautiful,' 'cause it's kind of a cliche, but it really was," he says. "It's disheartening that it's been tarnished."

And both sides are still trying to figure out the next step. Richardson and Andrew Moore, an accountant who volunteered on Good's staff on Saturday, have each contacted District 14 city council member Angela Hunt expressing opposing arguments of dissatisfaction with the way the event was handled.

But Hunt, who says she's currently looking into the complaints, is not yet faulting either side. In approving Good Records' permit, Hunt says, The Office of Special Events had mistakenly assumed that the store was located on Upper Greenville, despite its listed address of 1808 Greenville Ave.

"I just don't think it wasn't was properly permitted," Hunt says. "But [Google Maps] is open to anyone."

But, she continues, "The fact is, an event like this just shouldn't take place in a neighborhood like this. It just can't."

Which is Richardson's point exactly: "One has to understand that this is a commercial district one block deep, and it's surrounded by residential properties. People have to understand that Saturday afternoons are the lone moments we have away from all the noise down here. Ultimately, there was a better place to have this party--any place that is an actual venue."

Even so, the day wasn't a total wash for Good. "It was our biggest sales day in history," Penn says. "We doubled [our sales from last year's celebration] and then some. It was about two weeks worth of sales in one day."

So, naturally, Penn says, he plans on fighting the ticket he was served.

Oh, and one more thing, he adds: "We're going to do it again next year. I don't care."

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