Indie record shops keep closing, especially in Williamsburg, and why not? You can instantly buy or stream any song you want digitally and Williamsburg’s rent is insane. But Rough Trade co-owner Stephen Godfroy decided to put faith in the demand for physical formats and in Williamsburg, opening a Rough Trade outpost there that only sells new music, no used or vintage vinyl. The famous London record shop, which became the iconic post-punk label launching the likes of Scritti Politti and The Smiths, debuted its US flagship store yesterday.
Rough Trade NYC (64 North 9th Street) is a 10,000+ square foot store inside a former film prop warehouse, with nooks for sitting and hanging headphones for CD sampling. It’s meant to serve as a hangout for music loving loungers who want to browse over 20,000 titles, play ping pong, and feel fancy paper from quirky books on their fingertips.
The store doubles as a concert venue, offering a mix of free and ticketed in-store shows, day and night. A decent size stage and large bi-level space sit behind the music racks.
Last night’s launch was marked with an in-store performance by Sky Ferreira, followed by an album signing. There was also a free Charles Bradley concert. Before signing with Daptone, Bradley used to be a James Brown impersonator. His vocal outbursts, pelvic gyrations and occasional floor drops recalled classic soul and funk performances.
Bradley stepped onto the Rough Trade stage in black pleated flare pants and a blazer covered in silver glitter swirls, and the full house casually swayed to the horns. Just an hour after 21-year-old Ferreira greeted fans, the Bradley set gave off a 70s vibe. Fitting, since that’s when the original Rough Trade first opened in the UK.
But that’s the point; a wide span of music from different eras, all available in new physical formats. You can cop Lorde’s Pure Heroine with a Miles Davis album recorded decades ago—and still remove clear plastic wrap from both.