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Wednesday, November 30

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Event Mon Apr 28 2014

Wax Idols: Navigating the 2014 CHIRP Record Fair's Delights


[Ed. note: Apologies for the delay!]

When I'd told a friend I was planning on visiting a record fair for an entire afternoon one Saturday, they were dumbfounded. You're excited at the prospect of sharing a room with a bunch of old white guys selling dusty records to even more old white guys for inflated prices and "posterity"? Seems like a recipe for boredom, or at least an empty wallet, no? I avoided the question, first because I knew, of course, that he was right, but second because I also knew there were certain indescribable elements and tiny excitements to an event like CHIRP's that I'd never be able to fully explain. I am not an old white man (yet), and since I count myself a member of a growing number of younger vinyl fans who love obsessively padding and curating their collections of old records, it's a culture, man, and I planned to get my fix! I won't stand for any naysayers in my tent.

So when my roommate and I got up early to head to CHIRP's 12th Annual Record Fair & Other Delights, we expected more than to cross off a few harder-to-find records off our respective punch lists. Arriving at the tail end of the early bird session (where diehards paid a bit extra to comb the stacks first), we noticed right away that my friend's quick stereotyping was way off: Women! Young people! Young people selling records to even younger women! I'd be lying if I said that the old white guy demographic wasn't well represented, too, but even at 10am the fair was filled with people of all shapes and stripes coming to browse the racks, ogle at strange Beatles ephemera, and learn a thing or two about a record or two. Fifty million Elvis fans can't be wrong, or something like that.


Last year's fair boasted an impressive array of vendors, refreshments, and entertainment, and this year didn't disappoint on any of these fronts. The Journeyman Plumbers Hall stage played host to CHIRP DJs throughout the morning and afternoon, and was even punctuated by a heated (and quite pedantic, to my delight) music quiz ran by the CHIRP staff. There were tacos, there was beer, and coffee. And there were records. Hundreds of thousands of records. While I searched in vain for some hard-to-find records by The Fall or Beat Happening, I did happen upon a copy of John Phillips's self-titled debut, the cover of which Dylan aped for his own 1976 release, Desire, which I also picked up (see picture below for a side-by-side comparison, nerds.)


The vendors' collections skewed heavily toward the golden age of vinyl, roughly rock and pop music from the mid 60s through the early 80s, with more niche collections of jazz, r&b, and disco dotting the auditorium. Small local labels (Hozac, Already Dead Tapes) and more well known vendors (Byron Coley!?) were there, too, selling a mix of new LPs and impossible-to-find obscurities. (It killed me to pass on Coley's dizzying crate of Flying Nun originals, but I was steadfast in convincing myself I was on a "budget.") With the exception of one vendor from Seattle who had an absurd collection of turn-of-the-90s Sub Pop singles and LPs, the fair was extremely light on 80s and 90s indie/punk/hardcore records (all of which are understandably much harder to track down, since far less were pressed than, say, any ELO record.) I resolved to resign my search for records of that ilk to chance and serendipity, or maybe just Discogs. (But that would be cheating.)


All told, we'd spent a solid six hours digging through the crates at this year's fair, and had the lingering scent of dusty fingers and a heavy stack of records to show for it. I made off with a few records I'd been spending the better part of the last six months tracking down (thanks for the ultra-clean copy of Vintage Violence, Mr. Coley), and my roommate rounded out his collection of mid-70s (prime era) Neil Young. The afternoon at CHIP was a series of delights, just as advertised, and I anticipate being just as vinyl-hungry for next year's fair. Meet you in the tent.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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