|Look at the smattering of stores!|
Having slept exactly zero hours on the overnight flight, the VVers head to their first stop (based purely on locational convenience), the Hors-Serie (which the VVers for their entertainment call the "Horse-ery"). There was a small line queuing up waiting for the store to open already! It moved quickly, but was a mad rush of men-folk crushing around the sales counter, some were a bit pushy. All the RSD releases were on shelves behind the counter and this was really the first foray for our heroes in engaging someone in Dutch or French, or Belgish(?). Smiling and pointing helped, and the first purchase was made! Shocking Blue's At Home, is essentially a plush, expanded version of their most famous album on translucent (shocking) blue vinyl. It also happened to be one of the few albums the VVers were fairly certain they would come across for RSD as the band was from the region.
Next stop was Caroline Records, which had a great selection of American-release RSD titles nicely in boxes on the counter for buyers to flip through. This is truly a great store with a separate upstairs store, B-Sides, an amazingly well-stocked vinyl utopia run by a super enthusiastic and knowledgeable gentleman. Based on the VVers inquiring if there were any Stereolab records (to bring home for their record-loving neighbor), he commented that they are impossible to find, and recommended a kindred UK band's RSD 10" EP, Vanishing Twin Dream By Numbers, and off went the VVers with more records.
A handy map led the VVers to small shop, Elektrocution, so why not pop in? This place was a little too punk and metal for the VVers who were on the verge of collapsing by this point in the day (probably only 11AM local time). Shop clerk/owner looked like he was in his 50's and was totally gothed-out with makeup, especially for the morning hours (dressed for the whole day?). Probably was a great store, but no RSD releases and the VVers were a one-track mind at this point.
The Collector had a few very obscure RSD releases, but mainly was a used store with a deep and seemingly never-ending oldies section. You could dig in here for days. The basement literally was small room after small corridor for what seemed like quite a distance. VVer1 happily got lost a few times. As it was RSD and the special releases are the thing to go for, the VVers were only in here for too scant a time. Anyways, by this point the VVers were looking towards a well deserved nap.
After some reconstituting, one last hurrah was in the cards. You see, these travelers decided that, since they were very upset about missing the Black Angels play 9:30 Club with A Place to Bury Strangers due to the timing of the trip, they would without guilt splurge and on the RSD release of the Black Angels new LP, Death March. The limited RSD release is on glow-in-the-dark double vinyl with plush packaging. They already knew they would buy the regular release of the record anyway, so why not get the fancy edition? Let the costs of shipping home a heavy, double record be damned! YES! Finding said album, however, proved harder than they anticipated with all the record stores in town being sold out. Balades Sonores just outside the northern edge of downtown was the last stop of the day and proved to be just the place and just in time! Hopes were dim, being late in the afternoon, but the VVers wanted to check out one more store, so they hopped a tram and lucked out, getting their last copy! They still had bunches of international RSD releases and some compelling local ones the VVers got to sample thanks to the very friendly staff. After a bit of back and forth the VVers made their purchases and the store staff recommended a nearby tavern to go a rest a bit before a bit of live in-store music courtesy of a local band, Compro Oro, who put out an RSD 10" release, Bombarda, which was also purchased. The VVers had an hour and a half to kill and began to follow the directions, "Just on the other side of that church." Turns out the church was much further away than it seemed and through a less than appealing area; the VVers were spent. After a totally unnecessary trudge getting to the bar, which turned out to be closed for no discernible reason, the VVers decided to go back to home base and skipped the show. Bummed as VVer1 was about this turn of events, it lead to a relaxing night of Belgian beers and strolling the neighborhood. There are no complaints about Belgian beers.
On the way out of town, the VVers got up bright and early, with their newly acquired stack all packed up in two near-bursting shipping flats and ready to go. As luck would have it there was a post office right around the corner. After VVer2 heroically filled out what seemed to be a hundred forms for shipping two packages home, at a not insignificant price, the records were bound for the States.
When reunited at home with said packages, they didn't quite look like they did when they were sent out.... These packaged were covered with adorable kitten stamps--the best being a kitten playing with yarn! Belgium! How dare you make the VVers smile even more when opening packages full of records!?! When trying to describe this scene to a friend the response went a little something like this: "I just want to lick them!" Meow!
PS, The journey continued, but there are just way too many record stores in France to write about. The VVers just can't....