Every year, Black Friday comes and goes with its usual happenings, with long lines, early mornings, and discounts of all shapes and sizes abounding. Though it can be overwhelming, it really is a unique experience in American culture, and I generally enjoy it. That is not to say, of course that it’s without shortcomings. Complaints of Long lines, competition for limited goods, and general capitalist hegemony abound. My biggest problem with the day, however, is something else entirely. My issues
My biggest problem with the day, however, is something else entirely. My issues lies in the homogenous nature of the Black Friday experience. In simple terms, the experience of shopping on Black Friday is very much the same store to store, and year to year. This turned out to be true on this iteration for the most part with one glaring exception: at everybody’s favorite record shop, the Electric Fetus. The Fetus is long known for its events, from record store
The Fetus is long known for its events, from record store day, to in-store performances, to ticket giveaways, but on this day it had a buzz like I’ve never seen there before. Arriving after what I presumed to be peak hours, I was met by many like-minded shoppers, friendly employees, and fellow enthusiasts. The tunes on the speakers were great, and the vibes were second to none. Crowded, but not overpacked, the stage was set for the main course: an in-store performance by local guitar maestro and songwriter Erik Koskinen.
Koskinen has been around for years as a sideman, and solo artist, establishing himself as one of the preeminent players on the local scene. On this day, he was showcasing songs from his brand new Cruising Paradise EP. The show, despite its slightly awkward trappings, was a success.
My biggest concern going in was how it would sound, given we were in a room designed for retail more than rock. These fears were assuaged early on, as the band sounded as good as you’d expect in any club. Helping things was the general tightness of the band, who, despite being admittedly under-rehearsed, came across as professional and very competent within the bluesy country-folk-rock idiom they were playing in.
The band wasn’t flashy, and they didn’t have to be, allowing Koskinen’s well-written songs to take center stage. At times they sounded like Greg Brown, and at others sounded like nobody but themselves. The pace started slow and picked up gradually throughout, engaging shoppers and onlookers alike. By the final track, the intensity had really picked up, leaving the audience craving more.
Among the highlights of the set were an especially bluesy Red Dress Girl and a Christmas track Koskinen said he wrote last year ahead of a tour with local heroes Low. The set proved to be a fantastic addition to my day, and I’m sure others felt the same way. Black Friday might not be perfect, but at the Fetus, it was good enough.