As I walked into the Houston Hilton Southwest to go to the first Houston Record Convention of the year, I saw a man walking beside me in an Iron Maiden shirt and a couple in matching Led Zeppelin shirts, leaving with a bag of records and excitedly talking about the new Madonna records they just bought. I knew I had come to the right place.
For a record collector, or just anyone with an interest in vinyl who happens to own an old turntable, walking into a record store must be a similar feeling for when a ten-year old walks into a Lego store. Crates of records stood everywhere, with thousands of vinyl discs surrounding you.
Late Sunday morning, the hotel's convention room was fairly packed with people of all ages. Dealers and record store-owners had booths set up, coming from Mobile, Austin, San Antonio, and many other cities. While the recent boom in the vinyl market may be largely driven by younger, indie-rock-driven consumers, the selection at the convention was mainly filled with classic-rock records. Fans of Zeppelin, Bowie, the Beatles, or the Stones would find a lot to enjoy.
However, the selection definitely branched beyond that. One vendor had a dollar bin where one could find a great selection of hip-hop records from Lil Wayne, Juvenile, Ciara, Mystikal next to more dad-approved material like Steely Dan.
While there were definitely a lot for collectors of all ages, as the walls were lined with hard-to-find records from the Beatles, the Descendents, the Stone Roses, Queens of the Stone Age and the Cramps, etc, the majority of the records were priced at an affordable $15-$20. One booth contained boxes of concert DVDs and tees from metal bands; another offered 3D DVDs of cult horror films.
The people there, from the vendors to the shoppers, were all friendly and personable. It was easy to tell who was a regular, as many would strike up conversations with old friends, talking about what they had obtained since the last show. Bits of conversations I picked up on had to do with people debating where to classify the Ramones, a dealer talking about how much she loved King Diamond, and a kind woman who helped me pick out a good Nina Simone record to start with.
While it was a haven for fans of older bands, I was able to find plenty of more recent collectibles as well. One vendor had rare original copies of early Modest Mouse and Jimmy Eat World albums, and there was a good amount of hip-hop albums floating around.
For my own collection, I grabbed some of those $1 hip-hop singles and a couple older ones from Public Enemy, as well as some indie-rock classics from Bjork and Built to Spill. As a whole, the convention was a welcoming occasion, where everyone was friendly and accommodating. It was a great place to make new discoveries and find rare versions of old favorites.
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