Top 50 In-Stores of the Decade

Top 50 In-Stores of the Decade!

Easy Street has hosted close to 500 in-stores over this last decade. Were you there? Did you get to meet the performer(s) and get something signed? What did you think was the best? We are happy to be able to bring you free live in-stores for all these years. Thanks for making it all worthwhile, Seattle. My name is Matt, I'm the owner. Here is my list and recollections of the Top 50 Easy Street in-stores over these last 10 years. You will also see video clips and photos of the in-stores and a list of 40 honorable mentions.

50. Matmos - Our experimental /electronic buyer Jefferson had forced Matmos's The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast onto our CD player every other day. Finally, we all got it. He helped get Matmos in for a rare in-store and we all tripped out with a bunch of weirdos for an hour. We later found them to be super funny, normal guys. 10/23/06

49. De La Soul - I've never seen so many people handing out flyers for barbershops, sneaker shops, and after hours parties. The legendary De La Soul was in the house. It's a lifestyle folks. True pros who take nothin' for granted. 11/15/04

48. Cave Singers - We've had 'em twice now, both times on street date, this time for #2 staff favorite of 2009, Welcome Joy. They know how to sell records. Do a great in-store, be nice to your fans, and keep working to get your music out there. We appreciate it. Thanks, Derek. 10/18/09

Video: Cave Singers

47. The Shins - Another street week in-store. This time by one of the biggest selling bands of the decade working their 2007 release, Wincing the Night Away. So consistent, so tasty. This was recorded and was set for a release , but James' voice wasn't where he wanted it, he was fighting a cold. Furthermore, KMTT was streaming the performance live on air. Made for a few stops and starts, but once they got it going, the Shins reminded us how lucky we are to have such great bands in this town (no matter where they might live now) and such a great label that consistently gets the good stuff out. 02/20/07

Video: The Shins

46. CocoRosie - Thanks to our old indie buyer, Gary Smith, the whole store was in love with CocoRosie. He procured an in-store. The girls showed up in a station wagon. They had another cute girl with 'em, she was driving the car. It was their mom. Fly your freak folk flag, I get it. 05/07/04

45. Tegan & Sara - This Canadian duo dropped down to find out why Seattle was selling so many records of theirs. They figured it out and so did we. 07/19/07

Video - Tegan & Sara

44. Flogging Molly - It was the week before St Patrick's Day and people were a little anxious. Flogging Molly had always been a big seller for us, and we knew what we might be getting into, especially with Irish bar TS McHugh's across the street. Fists and anthem choruses were in the air, great bunch of lads. 03/08/06

Video - Flogging Molly

43. Editors - All hands on deck. These guys were just starting to blow up and The Back Room was the catchiest record out. Super nice guys with their eyes on the prize. 05/26/06

Video: Editors

42. Donovan Frankenreiter - Sometimes in this business of music retail, there are records that get thrown down your throat, you want nothing to do with 'em. There are a dozen promos floating in the back room, sales reps want sales figures, they want displays, you just get tired of the picture of the guy. The soul is stripped of whatever might be on the record...and sometimes all of that can be reversed once the artist makes their presence known, takes the business out of it and just does what got them to where they are. This funky mofo turned our Queen Anne store into a Laurel Canyon house party. Stay wit it, we got your back. 06/11/06

Video - Donovan Frankenreiter

41. Bobby Bare Jr. - You know where he'll be years from now. Playing music wherever, whenever. A lifer. This ain't no country bumpkin, this is a great musician and songwriter. Didn't expect what we got, a full-on rock assualt. One of the sweetest guys in the game. 10/14/06

Video - Bobby Bare, Jr.

40. Phoenix - You might've heard of them by now? One of those in-stores where you wonder how come this band isn't more popular. Sometimes, you just stick with it and everyone finally figures it out. Super nice, poppy French guys. You could've said you saw 'em when nobody knew. 09/27/06

Video - Phoenix

39. Citizen Cope - Seattle cannot get enough of this fella and he can't get enough of us. Seattle has come to be his most favorite market. Now, if the rest of the country could get a grasp, he would easily be a household name and standing on stage at the Grammys. After a handful of releases on various record labels, he has found a niche by touring constantly, getting on soundtracks and working his ass off. We respect that! He's got the peace, love, and understanding down. Hope to see him again on the Easy Street stage. 10/22/06

Video - Citizen Cope

38. Mountain Goats - Wow, they really are good and people love these guys. Street date in-store! Thanks Matador. 10/21/06

Video - Mountain Goats

37. They Might be Giants- OK, let's do the ABCs then. 600 kids jumpin' to TMBG. That is one of the funnest spectacles we've seen in the store. 03/28/05

36. Sweetwater - An in-store encore, we don't get those that often. It is so great to see a band that can unashamedly admit they started a band so that they could be rock stars, gotta love the honesty. Furthermore, they can rock...with their butt out or with their shades on. They are old Capitol Hill boys just lookin for the next kegger. It was fun to see some old pals from the neighborhood rock it out like it was their first time on stage. Paul Uhlir still has the greatest local rock star tattoo...and always will. Go Sonics! Sure am glad you guys didn't make it too big, never a good combo when wanna-be rock stars actually become rock stars. I hope they keep it going though, I think they could handle the fame by now. 04/18/09

35. Visqueen - Was it Rachel's year or what? We felt so honored to have her on street date for Message to Garcia. We are all so proud of her. Thanks for cracking us up, thanks for putting it all in persepctive, and thanks for working your fine little ass off. Who's gonna be the lucky guy that can handle this lil' firecracker? 09/25/09

Video - Visqueen

34. Jay Reatard - I hadn't heard his music much, and I only stuck around because I was warned he might get in a fight with someone or try to rip up our backroom. True, he seems to be a loose cannon, but give him what he wants and he seems to be pretty happy, uh um. He is a great talent and pleasantly surprised us all. This is no joke, he will be here for some time, if his body can hold up. He never stuck around to sign autographs, he bailed out the back doors and nobody could find him until the next morning. 10/26/09


Jay Reatard

33. Helio Sequence - "Harmonica song" at Easy Street, I still have dreams about that. One of the great Sub Pop bands of the decade and one of the most unique sounds concocted by two great musicians. 09/04/04


Helio Sequence

32. Liam Finn - When oh when is the new record coming out?? I'll Be Lightning was one of the great debuts of the decade. Did he really just play guitar and drums at the same time? The Finn family carries on. Thanks Matt Kumma for putting this record in my hands. 03/04/08

31. Dick Dale - The King of Surf Guitar at Easy Street. I liked the sound of that and so did everyone else. More than anything, we were all blown away by Dick's 14-year-old son, Jimmy, matching his dad note for note. A true father/son experience. He signed for a few hours. He talked about his influences, his family, his Native American roots, hot rods, and his love of surfing. A true American guitar slinger. 12/01/06

30. Pete Yorn - He hadn't done an in-store before, but he'd been hearing that this lil' record shop in Seattle was selling a lot of his debut record musicforthemorningafter. We set up an in-store and invited all of our friends. We have since had him at the shop two more times. He has since gone on to being one of the most in-store friendly artists of the decade, doing over 100 in-store appearances around the country. 04/25/01

Video - Pete Yorn (2009 in-store)

29. Knitters - "Dave ain't a big fan of doing public appearances, but I'll see what I can do," says John Doe. Having Exene and John with DJ Bonebrake was pretty cool to say the least; adding Dave Alvin on guitar and Jonny Ray Bartel on bass took it to another level. Listening to the Knitters you think good time foot-stompin' American music, but once these musicians are in front of you, it becomes clear that it's not as easy as it may sound. You have to be a a master of your craft to make people have that much fun. Dave Alvin would be forced to take a few bows as the crowd stood in utter amazement at what he was accomplishing. Jonny Ray and I hung out for the rest of the day. He took me out to his car and played me a song that his friend Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) gave him, it was an unreleased song by Johnny Cash with Billy on guitar. He would later send me an unreleased live recording of his old band Red Devils with Mick Jagger on vocals. True American record nerds, the Knitters. - 7/22/05

28. Regina Spektor - Our Warner Bros. rep kept going on about this gal. We had heard her single like everyone else and her record was selling very well. We put our heads together and showcased what would become one of the great rising stars of this decade. She brought a film crew to document the in-store experience here. She looks pretty cute in an Easy Street hoodie. - 10/27/06

27. North Mississippi All-Stars- Jim Dickinson was a legendary Memphis session player and would later go on to produce some of the greatest American records and bands, including Big Star, Replacements, and Mudhoney. The North Mississippi All-Stars are led by his sons - the Dickinson Brothers. They stepped into our West Seattle store on one of the rainiest Seattle days you could conceive. Adding to the swampiness, these boys cranked out a super muggy Memphis music lesson for all in attendance, turning our little cafe into a juke joint. Along with Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket, this is one of the greatest southern rock bands of the decade. RIP Jim Dickinson. Hope to have you back boys! - 10/1/05

26. Band of Horses - Shhhh! As perfect as you'd expect. This was a street date in-store for Cease to Begin, and many of us were hearing their new stuff for the first time. They've helped to create a whole new scene of their own and have inspired many a musician in this town. - 10/08/07

Video - Band of Horses

25. Langhorne Slim- One of my favorites. He's considered a relatively new artist. His record was played by our morning guy Troy Nelson almost every day, he turned me and others on to this one. We tried to get the band for an in-store every time they came through town, but it wasn't logistically possible. Finally, it worked and it was fantastic. - 9/22/09

Video - Langhorne Slim

24. Mudhoney- Back in '97, we had Mudhoney at our West Seattle storage space next door (later to be our cafe). They had released Tomorrow Hit Today, one of the most underrated records of the '90s. Warner Bros. was giving up on 'em - they would fulfill their contract, but would not work the record. If it hadn't been for a couple of local West Seattle guys, Dean Overton and Bobby Whittaker, the in-store would've never happened. Mudhoney was/is a West Seattle band and truly one of our own, our pride and glory. It was the first big in-store we ever did. It was the first in-store they ever did (they've only done three, all at Easy Street). At the most recent one (5/20/08), Mark Arm shed the guitar and the band turned the QA store into their own garage party. They signed for an hour. Definitely a vinyl crowd, it was the first time we sold more vinyl than CD for an in-store artist. Last summer, Mudhoney played across the street at our West Seattle street fair. Over 3,000 people jammed into the middle of the Junction, giving new meaning to our crosswalk sign "walk all ways." - 05/20/08

Video - Mudhoney (2008)

23. Steve Earle - I had officially given up. I had tried for an in-store with Steve Earle every time he came through town, every time he put out a new record. He's a modern-day troubadour, an American treasure. One day, his record company calls our QA store manager, Bob Major, and asks if we'd like to have Steve in for an in-store. "What, who's joking?" Seriously, I thought it was a Punk'd moment, as my efforts in getting Steve Earle were well known. Steve was doing a project that was close and personal - a record in tribute to his old friend and musical hero, Townes Van Zandt - and he wanted to get the word out to anyone and everyone. He hadn't done an in-store in a while, he was pretty well used to playing some of the nicest venues in the world. Then... "Steve will be in town the day the record comes out." Wow, a street date in-store with Steve Earle! It was a great night and the folks that showed up couldn't have been more gracious. Steve signed autographs for a few hours. He sat in the back room for a while looking over some records he had bought, and he let me ask him a few questions for our old website. - 5/11/09


Steve Earle & Matt

22. Wanda Jackson - A rock-n-roll Hall of Famer on our little stage? What is going on? An old rockabilly musician customer friend had been saying to me for years, "One day I'm gonna do an in-store at your place." I'd say, "Oh Marshall, come on now, buy another record." Well, as the years went on, he got his chops down and had become a pretty good drummer, good enough for the legendary Wanda Jackson to ask him on her NW tour. I get a call from the road, it's Marshall: "Sorry for the late notice, but I'm with Wanda Jackson. Remember I said I'd do an in-store? Well can I bring Wanda in this weekend? She's up for it, here, talk to her husband." I said, "Anytime sir, we'll get the word out." She stood all of 4' 8" and was without a doubt the cutest lil' bad girl you'd ever want to meet. We all just fell in love with her. You could see her husband grimace slightly when folks asked her about her ex-boyfriend Elvis Presley. Get ready for yet another return to greatness - Jack White is producing her next record. - 05/02/08


Wanda Jackson

21. Ingrid Michaelson - I liked the record quite a bit and she seemed to be garnering a fast and furious fanbase. Little did I know, a child prodigy, multi-instrumentalist, wakes up every morning with a song in her head. A true inspiration to all songwriters and musicians and one with an amazing future ahead of her. - 11/10/08

Video - Ingrid Michaelson

20. Gov't Mule - We've had some amazing guitar players on our stage, Dave Alvin, Dick Dale, McCready, Charlie Sexton, but what Warren Haynes pulled off on this day was truly unreal. All of us, stupified. The most fun-loving jokesters we've ever had. They are truly from the cloth of the Allman Brothers and all the great southern rock bands before them. They brought an engineer/bus driver with 'em and said, "We think we're gonna sound pretty good here, if it sounds as good as we hope, we might just release it as a CD." Mule on Easy Street has gone on to be one of the best-selling indie exclusive titles of all time. Currently out of print, hope to get it re-issued. - 10/19/06

19. Mono - They came, we saw, they left. They didn't speak any English really. They had that cool Japanese hair. Guitar player was playing a Flying-V. They started playing while the garage door was down, as if they didn't realize they were going to be playing in front of a crowd. We slowly raised the door/curtain. They didn't say a word to the crowd, they didn't acknowledge any of us. They pummeled us all. We had no sales for an hour, the audience was transfixed. They walked off stage, grabbed their gear, walked out the back door, smiled and said, "you like, fun, thanks, bye". - 2003

18. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - There wasn't a day that fellow Easy Streeter Kevin Larson and I worked that the debut record by a new band called Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (named after Marlon Brando's biker gang in The Wild One) didn't get played. It was dark and fuzzy in that Jesus and Mary Chain way, but it rocked a bit more and had an American edge to it. We couldn't get enough of it. Kevin had done an amazing window display; the band heard about it and saw how many copies were were selling out of the store. Sometimes when you will it, it happens. The only in-store they've ever done occurred at our West Seattle store during the middle of the West Seattle street fair in the summer of 2001. Not too many people knew who they were then, but by the end of their set, all of West Seattle was spreading the word. Have you heard of 'em yet? - 07/01


BRMC

17. Juliette Lewis and the Licks - Rock stars, we're used to, but a movie star? We were all kinda enamored over this in-store. Can she sing? Can she be as hot as she is in the movies? Does she know how to be a rock star too? Yes, all of the above and more. Easily one of the most animated and hottest bodies that has ever kicked around on our little stage. She was as sweet and crazy as you'd hope for. She bought a bunch of CDs and a Blondie t-shirt. A great artist, a true talent. - 11/15/05

Video - Juliette & the Licks


Juliette, Licks, & ESR peeps

16. Rocket from the Crypt- OK, nobody was cooler than John Reis. From Drive Like Jehu to RFTC, what he was doing was in a class of its own. I had been a huge fan of his bands and thought RFTC epitomized what it meant to have fun, be a great musician, and be in a cool band. They had it down. We had had RFTC a few years earlier in the late '90s out at our West Seattle store in our storage/party space before the cafe opened, but this is best of this decade, right? They came back through in 2002, after we opened the cafe. The horn section lined up and down the stairwell. We had to open the garage door, there were people all over the street. Back then, I had all of our vinyl in our basement with a sign "by appointment only." They spent over two hours in that basement. RFTC has since retired but between Hot Snakes, Nightmarchers, John's weekly radio show in San Diego, and his record label Swami, John is still the man's man musician. Man crush, you think? - 2002


Rocket From the Crypt

15. My Morning Jacket - Cameron Crowe had just completed his film Elizabethtown and was debuting it in Seattle. He brought Jim James with him. Crowe was a big fan of Jim's new band, My Morning Jacket, from Louisville, Kentucky, and their music was an influence on the film. Well, what else was he gonna do besides pal around with Mr. Crowe? Let's hear some music and turn people onto our favorite new band, My Morning Jacket. We got him to agree to an in-store and we brought in KEXP to simulcast it. Over 100,000 listeners tuned in. You couldn't hear a pin drop, the store had never sounded this good. Jim ended up hanging out in Seattle for a few days. He stopped by our cafe, met Pearl Jam, and we took him up to West 5 for drinks. My Morning Jacket had made their mark in Seattle and would go on to be the one of the biggest selling acts of the decade at Easy Street. - 11/05/05

14. Paul Westerberg - The first in-store at the Queen Anne store! In one week, we would have Elvis Costello, Jack Johnson, and Paul Westerberg. Not bad for a grand opening, especially for one that wasn't really planned...it just worked out that way. Record stores were closing left and right, and all these artists were into the idea of an indie record store opening. I guess launching our big store was a feel-good story. The Replacements, for a good 3-4 years of my life, had been without a doubt, my most favorite band. I wasn't alone, every indie record store guy around the country felt the same way. The Replacements and Paul Westerberg were one of the biggest influences on the Seattle music scene throughout the late '80s. Once they broke up, I was left holding my head on the roof of my house. Noooo! Paul hadn't done a live show in seven years. His first public performance was going to be the grand opening of our new store. Oh man, this was a serious honor. His new record was great. The day before the in-store, we saw him peeking through the windows of the store. We went out to introduce ourselves, but he was gone. We knew he had to be nervous about performing again. We had made up shirts for the day of the in-store with the cover of Let it Be on the front and "Replacements always available at Easy Street" on the back. He walks in a few hours before the in-store, sees those and says, "What are these? Throw 'em away." I told him we were giving them away with purchase of his new record. He didn't seem pleased. He was wearing some crazy shades and a splatter painted suit on. He didn't have any handlers with him. An hour before the show, with the store packed out, he says, "I'm gonna need a couch." I told him we didn't have one. He says, "Well, I've been writing these songs on my couch for seven years. The only way I'm gonna be able to sing 'em is to sit on a couch." One of our employees, Matt Gaine, says, "My grandma has a couch in her basement, but I think it has cat piss on it." I said, "Go get it." A few minutes before the show begins, the couch arrives, he jumps over it and lays down and says, "Perfect, I'm ready." He was rusty, but in that way only Paul Westerberg can get away with. He signed autographs for a few hours, smoked a few cigars, and signed our back wall. Almost every in-store artist since has signed the very same wall. Paul Harold Westerberg started that. - 04/22/02


Paul Westerberg & His Couch

13. Jurassic 5- Quality Control had been the staff pick for the year 2000. The hip-hop community was eagerly anticipating the new record, Power in Numbers. In 2002, we were able to score a street week in-store. I recall that they brought in four sets of additional speakers. I thought the roof was gonna cave in. I pleaded with them to no avail. Within seconds of the first song, I had my hands in the air along with the whole store. Easily the largest line of bag checks we've ever had. Backpack anyone? - 10/02

12. Jack Johnson- If you can believe it, this one came to us. We never solicited for it, we didn't make any calls. To be honest, we didn't know who he was, but one of my sales reps said that he wanted to tie it in with our grand opening festivities at the Queen Anne store. Jack's debut record, Brushfire Fairytales, was on indie label Brushfire Records. Well, we learned real quick who he was. He jumped on stage barefoot and went through his set in exact sequence to the record itself. It was the beginning of the new DIY movement. The Internet and the MP3 generation was here. - 04/21/2002

11. Eagles of Death Metal- Their debut was getting some talk, a bunch of Easy Streeters were playing the record all the time, but we weren't really sure if this band was popular just because Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age was playing drums and produced it. Was this just some side project with old high school friends? Um, yes...and it was the most rocking show that either one of my stores has ever had. We held their first in-store appearance at the West Seattle store. It might as well have been CBGB's that night. They did a full show and hung out the rest of the night. The store closed at 2 am. We would later find evidence of debauchery in our basement office. Oh, Jesse! A year later they would come through; this time, more of the same, just louder and more people. Josh wasn't feeling too good, but when the Strokes showed up to watch the in-store he was happy to see some friends. He would later pull everyone outside on the basketball court. He wasn't bad, but Julian Casablancas, folks, is a baller. The dude hit 9 out of 10 shots from the baseline. Strokes win 11-5. Jesse had stolen a dude's girlfriend from the autograph line while the guy was taking a photo of EODM and his girlfriend. He took her to the tour bus and the bus left with her on it. The kid was the last one to leave the parking lot. Kinda sad. - 04/04/06

Video - Eagles of Death Metal (2006 in-store)

10. Calexico - For a good number of years, Calexico has been one of our more steady selling indie bands. They have a ton of cred. Joey Burns had been in Giant Sand through the '90s and was one of the more inventive songwriters of that decade. I didn't know that Calexico would be doing the in-store with their full band, including the horn section, until the day before the show. I had seen them years before in Austin, where they played a secret show in a cafe. That was a great night that I thought could never be matched. It was. Before the band jumped onstage, Joey sees an 8x10 of the band Love in my office. He pops his head in and says, "Hey, what a great band, that reminds me..." I didn't know exactly what he was talking about, but I thought, cool, he likes Love, maybe he wants to buy a record. Instead, they finished the set with an encore of Love's "Alone Again Or" with the 3 piece horn section in full effect. Viva Calexico. - 04/13/06

Video - Calexico

9. Patti Smith- You gotta be kidding me. Patti Smith wants to stop by? She had a new record out, Trampin', that was receiving rave reviews. We were in an election year and Patti had some things to say. We held a Q&A, she signed autographs, and we played some her favorite music afterwards. She discussed her love of her ex-husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith from the MC5, she was pissed off at the then-current state of affairs, she poetically described her inhibitions, her heroes, her politics, motherhood, her feminism, and her never-ending activism. What struck me the most was the affection and admiration displayed by the young girls in the audience. Here was a living legend who has inspired damn near every punk rock grrrrl in the world. The paradox is that Patti Smith is one of the most loving and peaceful women you could ever meet. While she was signing autographs, she turns to me and says, "Jimi Hendrix is from here ... it's just now hitting me." She bowed her head, took a little break, grabbed a Hendrix box set and asked, "Can we play this the rest of the day?" - 08/15/04


Patti Smith

8. Franz Ferdinand - OK, so there was this little band from Scotland. Their record was being played constantly by every store employee. They were destined for stardom, and we knew that our only shot of ever having this band at the store would be on this first US tour. They were some of the most gracious chaps we've had in the store. They were all well-coifed and proper to start, and sweaty and laughing by the end of the set. They had a great time and couldn't get over the whole idea of playing in a record store. They bought a bunch of records and invited the staff to their show later that night. - 03/23/04


Franz Ferdinand

7. Van Hunt - One of the best R&B records of the decade was released in 2004. Van Hunt was playing Bumbershoot. We were all pretty excited at the store, but after looking at the schedule, it sucked, he was gonna be playing one of the small stages mid-day. He wasn't that well known yet. Most of us were not gonna be able to slip out to see the show, as the store stays pretty busy during Bumbershoot. We pleaded with One Reel to allow us to have an in-store with him. They usually don't allow any of their artists to compete with the festival, understandably. We convinced them that our pre-promotion of Van Hunt would raise awareness of him and get people to Bumbershoot. They granted us the in-store as long as we didn't advertise it. So, on a grass roots level, we did it. We re-opened the doors at about 10 pm. Those that had seen him at Bumbershoot followed him to the store, the Easy Street staff was fired up, and the R&B community was in full effect. Van Hunt was blown away by the crowd. We turned all the lights off and grooved the night away. Van Hunt would later go on to win a Grammy for his work on the Sly and the Family Stone tribute record. His debut record is easily one of the great records of the decade. We're hoping for his return. - 09/04/04

6. Kings of Leon - So, there was this new band. There wasn't a day that had gone by that their debut record didn't get played at both stores. They were on tour with U2 and since they had a day off before their opening slot at the Key Arena, we inquired about an instore. They hadn't done one before, so it was a little new to them, but they went ahead with it. They packed the store to the gills, turns out we weren't the only folks getting behind this band. At one point, Caleb stopped the show and freaked out because he couldn't hear himself. He jumped off the stage and was screaming at all of us in the backroom. Turns out the keyboard player had accidentally unplugged the monitors. We coerced him to get back on stage and finish the set, which they did...and with aggression. They signed for a few hours and we later got a basketball game of KOL vs Easy St. going in the parking lot. They were on their way to superstardom! - 04/27/05


Kings of Leon

5. John Doe - X had always been one of my favorite bands and John Doe was their fearless leader. His solo stuff contains some of the best contemporary songwriting around. One day, someone will put a collection together of his best work. It'll have to be a box set. He's prolific, daring, and independent through and through. He's a modern-day hero to me and to a lot of my friends and musician pals. I was able to get him to my West Seattle shop for an in-store in 2004. He turned it into a show in the round and sat in the middle of the crowd singing, most of the time without a mic. He saw all the kids with their parents so he busted into some kids songs. He closed with "Silver Wings" and hung out with everyone for a few hours. That in-store marked the beginning of a very special artist/record store relationship. We have since had John Doe on our stage in some capacity or another six more times - solo, with the Knitters or him jumping onstage at the Pearl Jam in-store to do an impromptu version of "New World." In July of 2005, I was able to persuade him to come up and headline the West Seattle Summerfest, which, up until that time, had really just been a big West Seattle talent show when it came to entertainment. John Doe gave our little street fair some credibility and since then it has been one of the more entertaining and enjoyable of all the local summer festivals. John paved that road for us out here in West Seattle and continues to all around the country. - 2004


John Doe

4. Elvis Costello- We were a month out from opening our Queen Anne store and I was trying to get some grand opening events together. I had caught wind that Elvis Costello's tour was getting started in Seattle and that he would be rehearsing in Seattle for a few days leading up to the first show. I had read some interviews about his new record, When I Was Cruel, and it seemed to be a nod to his punk rock roots. When I heard an advance copy I was very impressed. I inquired about an in-store, but, of course, I knew it would be a longshot. Before I knew it, I received a call from an Irish guy, "Paddy," who handled Elvis. He said that he would come by and check out what the store was like when they got to Seattle. A few weeks later, he arrived with about five other Irish chaps. They walked around the store like a scene out of Miller's Crossing, kinda shook their heads a bit, mainly because I didn't have any product in the store, I was still doing our build-out, and the store, well, it wasn't open. He caught my name and asked how I spelled my last name. I said, "V-A-U-G-H-A-N." He says, "Oh, you spell it the Irish way, well that's a good start." My contractor, Hank Dufour was with me. He was born, lived, and had family in Ireland. That seemed to help too. Paddy then said, "Can you guys build some kind of barrier around the stage?" We said we could. He said "OK, we'll do it. You will have product, right?" I said, "Well, I'll have Elvis Costello product at the very least." He said, "Yeah, that would be a good idea." He looked at me as if I'd be strangled to death if I didn't. Of course, I couldn't get the store opened in time for the in-store. I was able to at least get Elvis CDs in the store, but that was it. I couldn't fill the store with product until the build-out was complete. I had to line up the fans from the front door in a single file line. Before I knew it, the line was circling the block around 1st and Mercer and Queen Anne, we had a full 360 degrees around the block and about 1,000 people waiting. Elvis jumps on stage and plays every instrument himself with synchronized pedals. KMTT was simulcasting the show live. Halfway through the set, I hear the sirens. Oh no, it can't be....the fire department. Two trucks pull up across the street, the firemen walk through the parking lot and through the back doors. I get a dialogue going with them to try to delay the inevitable. They looked out to the throng of people, then turned to me and said, "Hey, we gotta turn the lights on and pull the plug on this, this is ridiculous. You are way beyond capacity here." It was at that point the youngest fireman of the bunch says, "Oh my God, it's fucking Elvis Costello." He played for over an hour. The firemen watched the rest of the show from backstage with smiles on their faces. After the set was over, the fireman says to me, "You think Elvis would sign this warning infraction for us?" I'm sure it's pinned up at a fire station around here somewhere. - 05/15/02

3. Brandi Carlile- Our favorite girl! We have loved her from the beginning. She had lived in West Seattle for a bit and she stopped in our cafe early on. She could also be seen every week at the Paragon on top of Queen Anne; she performed up there for almost two years solid before she got her record deal. We've always felt connected to her. We had already had her on two occasions. The first brought forth one of her most-viewed YouTube clips and the second sounded so good, she - like Pearl Jam - decided to release it as a CD and offer it to all the indie stores around the country. On this third appearance how could she get any better? She did...little Brandi had become a star. She had us all singing every word even if we didn't know the song. It seemed that all of Seattle turned out for that in-store. The new songs were exceptional and her encore had us all clapping above our heads. We were all so proud of her. - 11/20/08


Brandi Carlile

Video - Brandi Carlile

View online photo gallery of this in-store

2. Lou Reed- On Easy Street's 15th anniversary, the king of New York, the godfather of alternative music, and one of the greatest songwriters of all time stepped into our Queen Anne store and did a very rare in-store appearance. It was very hot 95-degree Seattle summer afternoon. Lou was on tour supporting his record, The Raven, a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe, and he was playing the Moore later that evening. Even though we had a '64 Telecaster buzzing for him, he decided to read "The Raven" to the sweaty crowd. I asked him why he didn't want to play, he said, "They can see that tonight, and this seems like a nice day to read 'The Raven'." Again, it's a hot 95-degree summer day in Seattle and he reads one of the darkest stories in the history of literature. It was awesome. When I asked him why he had decided to play our store, he simply said, "I don't know a lot of people out here, but you folks are always so nice in Seattle. I had the afternoon off and I love record shopping, so why not." Of course, we've all heard how crass, rude, and standoffish Lou Reed can be. I thought so too, at first. As I was preparing for the in-store, we had the Dandy Warhols new record playing. He comes up to me in the backroom and says with his New York drawl, "What are you playing?" I say that it's the Dandy Warhols and I thought that it might be... He cuts me off and says, "Turn it off, they (pointing to the crowd behind the garage door) don't want to hear that." I say, "What should I play then?" Lou says, "Well, they're here for me, right? Play something you think they might like, shouldn't be too hard." How many people does it take to turn off a Dandy Warhols CD and put a Lou Reed one in? About five... I was nervous wreck in my own store. After he was done with his reading, he comes up to me and says, "Aren't you gonna tell them I have a new record and that I'll be performing tonight?" Of course. As I get on stage, it kinda hits me that damn near all of the pop/rock section of the store wouldn't be there if it wasn't for him. I got choked up a bit and somehow got the pertinent info out and he puts his arm around me in a consoling manner and says, "Hey, let's take a break, huh? Can you go get me another one of those cappuccinos?" He signed autographs for over two hours, drank an insurmountable amount of coffee and once everyone was gone, he said, "So, let's do some shopping, turn me onto something." When he saw the Bowie section, a boyish smile crossed his face as he said, "Man, what's David up to? He just never stops. Well, I better support him a little." He bought a remastered addition of Aladdin Sane. He then went on a search for instrumental guitar music. I recall him picking up Jimmy Bryant, Speedy West, and Johnny Burnette. He bought a bunch of hip-hop too, but he was disappointed, saying "You don't have any K-OS, you better get with it." - Summer, 2003


Lou signing


The "Lou Reed Door" at the QA Store

1. Pearl Jam- Surprise! I had never had to hold a secret like this one. On a typical 55-degree, drizzly night in West Seattle, April 29, 2005, I held a staff party - "free beer" - which turned into a surprise concert in the middle of our West Seattle store. Easy Street was hosting an indie retail convention so there were a bunch of record store guys in town. Mike McCready had caught wind of it and thought it would be a nice gesture to say "hello and thanks" to these indie store owners. We talked about it and made some arrangements when he said, "Ya know, maybe we could do more than just handshakes, put something together that you think would be good and we'll see what can be done." I proposed an in-store. Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis and I talked a few times on the phone and I gave a soapbox speech at his office, but there were issues in doing an event like this. If it leaked out, there might be security and safety issues, some of the guys were going to be on vacation or having kids, the Queen Anne store was too visible, the West Seattle store was too small. Kelly and I met for breakfast at my cafe, he was basically going on about trying to do something else, a party of some kind, a dinner, something, but the idea of the in-store was a little too far fetched is where it seemed to be going. It was at that moment that Eddie walked into the record shop side and catches our eye. Kelly drops his head, smiles, and says "oh no." Eddie walks over to the Sonic Youth section, the store was kinda busy, he looks over at us, plays air guitar for few seconds and yells over to Kelly, "this'll do" and walks out. Kelly shakes my hand and says "I guess we'll be playing in here somehow. I'll have my crew get in touch with you, keep this very quiet." Pearl Jam, Kelly, and I held the secret for about a month. A few days before the show, I had to tell two of my managers (they were held to secrecy), but other than that nobody was informed. I bussed the indie store guys out to join my staff at our "work party." The band hid out in the vinyl section upstairs, which I had roped off - nobody could see them. I'm a few minutes from introducing them, writing a speech upstairs in a corner, when Eddie comes over, reads it, grabs a red pen and crosses out everything but a line or two, saying, "Hey, let us do all the thank yous, you don't need to say all this." The lights dim, I get up to the mic, most people don't know what's going on, I give my quick speech and introduce the band. People are like, what?? Pearl Jam?? One by one the band walks down the stairs. Eddie grabs the mic and says, "Oh sorry for the delay folks, we thought Matt had more to say," as he looks at me and laughs. Got me. Matt Cameron's drums never sounded better than in that small store. A blistering set and now considered one of the most legendary Pearl Jam shows ever. Only 200 people were in attendance. There were people across the street pointing at the store saying, "My God, that's the best Pearl Jam cover band I've ever heard." The special attendees were in shock. The set sounded so good that the band released it as a CD. It has since become Easy Street's #1 selling record of all time and helped pave the way for indie stores being able to compete with big box retailers in the game of exclusive product, as the record was only available at indie record shops. Arguably one of the coolest things a band of Pearl Jam's size has ever done. You think indie record stores have forgotten? Pearl Jam's latest record, Backspacer, debuted at #1 and has gone on to be the biggest selling indie record of 2009. - 04/29/05


Pearl Jam

Top 50 In-Store Honorable Mentions: * Black Lips * Uncle Earl * Earlimart * Josh Ritter * Wolves in the Throne Room * Black Mountain * Stills * Snow Patrol * Rodney Crowell * Pelican * Carbon Leaf * Robyn Hitchcock * Joanna Newsom * John Vanderslice * Phantom Planet * Stellastar * Greg Laswell * Minus the Bear * Los Lonely Boys * Cut Copy * Patton Oswalt * Blue Scholars * Mike Doughty * Dungen * Black Mountain * Rilo Kiley * Camper Van Beethoven * Tom Morello * Sera Cahoone * Critters Buggin' * Frank Black * Pleasure Club * FUN * Gomez * Moondoggies * Presidents of the USA * Conor Oberst * We Are Scientists * Miho Hatori * Arthur & Yu