Dead Wax Records: DFW's Great Escape
Photo courtesy Brad Sigler at Dead Wax Records
This March I found myself at Amoeba Music in LA, one of the most celebrated record stores in the world. The size, the selection and the pricing were all very impressive, but none of it compared to the sense of community living inside. It was contagious, enlivening. For a fan of the record shop experience - that social energy of shared passion and spirited conversation - it was especially uplifting. The shop was packed, a melting pot of freaks, geeks, jocks, tweens and businessman from all walks of life united under one roof by a communal love for music. The aisles were full of smiles and laughter; you could see strangers become friends. Honestly, this was something I thought had been lost--another cultural gem flushed down the drain with the collapse of the music industry. Amongst my excitement, a pang of unease snuck through, I wondered: would Dallas ever have this again? If so, when?
This Saturday I discovered that day had come.
Saturday was the soft opening of Dead Wax Records. Located in Carrollton, Dead Wax is a record shopping affair totally at odds with the typical Dallas experience; that is, music nerds, heads down, tunnel vision, crate digging in a bubble--less like potential friends, more like fellow hunters trying to take the bread from your mouth. My visit this weekend couldn't have been further from that sad state of affairs. But, let's start at the beginning.
Firstly, it took far less time to get there than I anticipated. Carrollton? I was expecting a journey. Don't let the distance put you off, it's more like a short commute than a haul (the exact location, Union Station, offers direct access from the DART Rail). On arrival, the first thing that strikes you is the building space. The area that houses the shop is new, like really, really still-smells-like-concrete new. This is one of those hip spheres where lofts meet restaurants and there's always someone walking their dog. Case in point, there's a Twisted Root next door.
While some hipster whiners, or those otherwise inclined toward unnecessary soap-boxing, might find Dead Wax's digs a bit too gentrified, I'm of the opposite persuasion. It's a treat to find easy parking and to not have to worry about someone breaking into my car (I got old, worthless CDs in there!) Plus, hell, Twisted Root is embarrassingly good.
When I open the door and step inside, three people say "hi" at once (and I think I only know two of them). This welcoming mood of genuine invitation would continue for the entirety of my stay. The laminate of newness on the storefront's exterior follows you inside. The interior is immaculate, well arranged, and the atmosphere is distinctly light and crisp.
For those who aren't regular frequenters of record shops, the latter feature might go unnoticed, but for those who make a habit of spending too much of their paychecks at similar establishments, the feel of the air inside will be atypically refreshing--there's no stale, stuffy library book smell or the usual humid feel of vinyl hoarders (maybe that will come later). While Dead Wax isn't overtly sterile or emotionally cold, it does deliver a certain measure of comfort. Imagine the environment of a Barnes and Noble, but with only the choicest inventory, where every shopper has impressively discerning tastes. It may be a superficial observation, but it feels great inside this place.