An old college friend, Pat, is in town this week for a convention of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS). The group, which was created when a group of like-minded record store owners banded together in the face of increasing corporatization, is enjoying its 10 year anniversary and as such this years convention is more celebratory. Pat invited me along to a Subpop showcase last night held at the Three Doors in downtown Seattle. The building is a former old tyme strip joint that’s been redone as a hip dinner club and usually features light jazz acts.

Last night Subpop footed the bill and we were served a three course Asian-themed dinner that was quite good, particularly the “seven-flavor beef”. Three Subpop bands then performed for the crowd. It was not unlike the meal events at GAMA Trade Show, except there were bands instead of lame power point presentations and there was free booze (you hear that, GAMA?).

The first band was the Fruit Bats, who have been described as psychedelic folk. In other words, not my thing at all. Next up was Kinski, an art damaged noise band that made the Fruit Bats seem even weaker. Somehow, Kinski is the only local band I’ve seen four times over the past couple of years, probably because they’ve managed to get some great opening slots for the likes of Mission of Burma and the Ex. I wasn’t so thrilled with them the first time I saw them but they’ve been growing on me and I think I may get their new record when it drops in July. Last up was the Helio Sequence, a two-piece with just a drummer and singer/guitarist. Though the drummer played aggressively, they were basically a power pop band. Again, not exactly my thing, though the crowd seemed to like them.

After the show, we went back to the Andra, a hip hotel in the Belltown part of Seattle where the conventioneers were staying. CIMS had rented out a suite for post-con event partying and stocked it with yet more free booze. We hung out there for a while and I got to meet a bunch of people from different record stores across the country. It was interesting to talk to these small business owners and hear what sorts of problems they faced. One nice thing about CIMS is that none of the stores are in direct competition with each other. They are too spread out geographically for that to be a factor. That’s a real boon for a trade organization.

One intriguing trend emerged in my conversations. Whereas normally when I tell people that my company publishes roleplaying games I get vacant stares in response, nearly everyone I met last night knew exactly what I was talking about. While most of them weren’t active gamers anymore, they at least knew what roleplaying was and in many cases had played in their younger years. I’m not sure what that signifies but it was interesting in any case.

I caught one of the last busses leaving downtown and got home around 1 am. It was a nice break from my usual routine. Now I need to see if I can still get a ticket to the Gang of Four show coming up. I fear I may have waited too long and screwed myself. May really snuck up on me.

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