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Coachella’s on-site record store maintains an old-school vibe

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Coachella Record Store

The scrum in front of the racks at the Coachella record store doesn’t lie: There are people who, in the oppressive heat of the Coachella Valley in the middle of a festival, will shop for vinyl while live music surrounds them.

Such was the case on Saturday, known in music circles as Record Store Day, a marketing initiative designed to spur sales at independent retailers in which a number of major artists release exclusive products. Crate diggers quickly flipped through limited-edition stock while a dozen others scouted used racks for rare gems.

Alex Rodriguez is responsible for filling the shop. As its proprietor, he put together this store’s 30,000-piece collection during buying sprees across America. He also runs the Glass House record store in Pomona — and as a DJ, he spun records from his collection on the main Coachella stage Friday afternoon.

He spends three to five months on the road, he said, “basically curating for this. I do all kinds of places — thrift stores, antique stores, other record stores. It’s about filling this place with super cool records.”

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Rodriguez said that the first weekend’s racks tend to get the cream of the crop, but he holds back quality stock for the second weekend, too.

Best? Rodriguez stresses that he keeps the prices as low as possible, and the tags bear that out. The goal is to hook a new generation on used and new records.

The bonus is Record Store Day.

Like many retailers, the Coachella shop landed a bunch of limited edition stuff — “everything we could get,” said Rodriguez — and buyers were at the ready when Coachella opened its gates at 11 a.m.

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Among the prizes snatched early, said Rodriguez: the soundtrack to the Michael Jordan vehicle “Space Jam,” a Prince 7-inch and a rarity by prog-metal band Coheed & Cambria.

Rodriguez didn’t play any exclusive new vinyl in his set under the name Record Safari. Rather, he focused on ‘60s and ‘70s garage rock, French pop and other music that’s not represented in the here-and-now — stuff that’s older than the average fest-goer.

His hope? “I’ll turn somebody on to something they wouldn’t otherwise hear.”

Asked how it feels to live every crate-digger’s dream — playing records on Coachella’s main stage — he laughed.

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“It’s pretty humbling,” he said.

For tips, records, snapshots and stories on Los Angeles music culture, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter and Instagram: @liledit. Email: randall.roberts@latimes.com.


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