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Love It Or Loathe It: Cassette Store Day Is Coming

By Sarah Cobarrubias in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 5, 2013 3:00PM


Record Store Day has been a thriving success since it kicked off five years ago, even despite the naysayers who claim it stinks of vinyl-snob elitism or call it an excuse to jack up prices. So it’s not surprising that, with the relatively recent revival of tapedeck culture, Cassette Store Day is rearing its lo-fi head.

On Sept. 7, record stores around the globe will celebrate this holiday for the first time, presenting releases by acts including Flaming Lips, At the Drive-In, Deerhunter and the Pastels. Only one store in Chicago is taking part in the festivities: Bric-a-Brac Records. The location will hold a tape fair featuring a whole slew of cassette labels, such as:

Notes and Bolts
Plus Tapes
Maximum Pelt
Already Dead Tapes
Teen River
Nihilist Records
Manic Static
Eye Vybe Records
Tripp Tapes

Along with a bunch of exclusive releases, there's going to be custom-painted boomboxes from Mac Blackout and cassette gear from Decibel Audio available. There’ll also be in-store performances by a handful of local acts, including crooning sweetheart Todays Hits, fuzz-rockers The Funs, Party Bat, and The Cairo Gang.

But The Owl is also throwing its own little party. The bar’s own label, Parliament Tapes, will debut its cassette vending machine that lets you buy recordings of live performances by local acts and mixtapes by the likes of Ian Svenonius and Mister Saturday Night.

The backlash to Cassette Store Day hasn't been unreasonable—it’s hard to deny the whole thing’s a bit kitschy. Anybody who’s done the fast-forward and rewind boogie knows the frustrations of the format, and there’s no defending the sound quality. But cassettes had their upsides too: Tapes were cheap and portable, you could record your favorite songs off the radio, and they were easy to share (this Chicagoist will never throw out her first and only boyfriend-made mixtape).

So relax, and let the kids have their fun. For some, creating tapes—from copying the tracks to crafting the insert—is an art, not to mention an affordable (and more personalized) alternative for acts that are low on funds. And for those of us not old enough to have fond memories of laying the needle down on a vinyl, the whir of the cassette tape is our little piece of nostalgia.