The Smart Music Fan's Guide to Black Friday

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If you had to navigate a dense Christmas tree forest just to buy Halloween candy or recognized "Holly Jolly Christmas" slowly seeping into the store like a poisonous gas weeks ago, then you know the horror of the holiday shopping season is in full swing.

Like any good slasher flick, there's an apex scene of terror to these proceedings, the brutality-filled moment that all the back story and early suspense leads up to. This culmination of fear, blood and human depravity is better known as Black Friday.

Many of us try to outrun the hatchet-wielding maniac that is the day after Thanksgiving, but really, you can't move all that quickly when your body is filled with tryptophan. You're going to succumb to the lure of a Keurig coffeemaker for under $100 and you know it. So, just fall to the ground screaming like Jamie Lee Curtis and give up already.

If this is truly your fate, then the least Rocks Off could do is offer some pointers for survival, some ways to get the most out of your Black Friday experience. Like Jamie Lee Curtis, we need you to return next year for the sequel.

SHOP LOCAL If you want to visit the economic whorehouse of Black Friday but don't want all the guilt and shame, then shop local.

Some of Best Buy's Black Friday "doorbusters" include the new Pitbull and Nickelback CDs for $6.99. But who is busting down the door for a CD? It's 2014 and vinyl is in. As Rocks Off suggested earlier this year, there are several spectacular local record shops to purchase from, and many more we didn't list in an article. You may not be able to buy mediocre music for under $7 at these stores, but you'll probably find some quality music for just a little bit more. Remember, Black Friday has also become a sort of unofficial Record Store Day Jr.; check recordstoreday.com for a rundown of this year's goodies.

If you're an avid Rocks Off reader, you already know there are too many local artists with albums to mention here. But wouldn't you be the cool uncle or aunt if you put any of those under the tree instead of 1989?

If you scanned Kohl's or Macy's B.F. deals, you probably saw a bunch of low-priced, dull apparel. If your gift receiver is a clothes horse with Secretariat style, take your Black Friday dollars to Leopard Lounge, where the hippest fashionistas in the city will have your gift receiver looking rock-star chic.

There's also the FYHA shop for those on your list dripping with H-town pride and new kids on the block iRepTheH representing some hip-hop couture. And, don't forget an abundance of fine tattoo shops -- any of which could probably offer some sort of gift card for your loved ones who want to wear their fashion statements permanently.

SUPPORT THE TROOPS Recently, big-box retailers have drawn criticism for opening their doors on Thanksgiving night. It's amusing to think that some of the same people voicing their outrage by this corporate cupidity will be the same people shouting down stockers and cashiers because Whatever-He-Does-This-Year Elmo sold out before they could buy one.

As has been well documented here before, I once worked in retail, was fired and treated worse on my exit than Santa With a Boner getting axed by mall security. The company I worked for wasn't even a proper Black Friday retailer; it was a grocer. We sold food. Hamburger. Eggs. Beer. And yet, they too subjected employees to the madness of sleep-deprived, possibly-still-drunk, holiday bargain hunters.

Apparently, there's a cure for ebola but not Black Friday. If you're going to be infected with this disease, then quarantine your worst feelings about it and try not to spread the vile stuff all over the poor saps working on Black Friday. You can get the most out of your experience by being a kind and patient human person and acknowledging that the people working while you're out shopping are doing the best they can, in most cases.

No matter who he or she is, if I see one retail employee who looks as if he or she is about to strangle an infuriating shopper, I'm directing them to the Hometown Hoedown at Mango's Saturday night. The traditional Thanksgiving punk showcase will give them a positive means to channel their Black Friday rage.

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LOAD UP THE PLAYLIST This is a music blog and you're reading it, so you know music is the salve to sooth every irritating butt-itch in life. So, if Black Friday you must, then plug up the earbuds and drown out the sounds of corporate avarice and inordinate desires for Fitbits and iPads.

Not only will the music help you keep your cool, it'll provide a sweet-ass soundtrack for all the turmoil around you. There's nothing like listening to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" as Walmart's doors are opened to hordes of stampeding shoppers. Here's a starter list; add or remove tracks as you see fit:

GIVE THE GIFT THAT GIVES BACK Since you love music and always need more of it in your life, take an active role in ensuring its future by encouraging a budding musician's pursuits. Guitar Center is running a Black Friday ad that'll turn your pot-and-pan-clanging kid into the proud owner of a four-piece starter drum kit for $99 (earplugs not included). Or, shop local and give the gift of music by visiting Rockin Robin Guitars & Music this Friday.

If you're down at Half Price Books c ombing through gift-worthy vinyl, saunter over to the music books for those family members who still enjoy turning paper pages. Budding readers can become writers and well-read music readers can become music bloggers worth reading. Jesse won't be here for you forever, you know. [This is not true -- ed.]

Finally, nothing starts the never-dying fire of a music fan than a great live show. There are plenty coming in 2015, so choose well and use the Press's concert calendar as a guide.

STAY HOME If you know your heart is too sizes too small for Black Friday, just stay home. Trust me when I say no one will miss you.


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