Truth be told, Vintage Vinyl doesn't have much competition in this area: Border's has brought in some decent talent, including Neil Halstead and Julia Fordham, but it's primarily a bookstore, with a penchant for NPR-friendly strummers who won't freak out the grandmas. Euclid Records hosts the occasional live performance, but it's too small for balls-out rock bands. Streetside Records offers high-profile autograph signings, but no one actually performs. But just because Vintage Vinyl's victory in this category is a no-brainer doesn't mean we should take the spectacular array of free concerts for granted. A couple of years back, hard-rock icons Queens of the Stone Age put on a special free show for fans, and two songs from this performance are featured on a bonus DVD accompanying the band's latest album. (Imagine how cool people from all over the world are gonna think we are when they find out the fuckin' Queens played here for free!)
This year, no shortage of buzz-worthy acts graced the humble Vintage Vinyl stage, which cleverly doubles as the jazz section: Centro-matic, Fu Manchu, Prince Paul, Jay Bennett and Edward Burch, Lonesome Bob and Kelly Hogan, to name a few. Plus, there's always a place for local talent, ranging from the party-centric hip-hop crew Devastation Clic to punk experimentalists There's a Killer Among Us. Advertising-and-promotions director Jim Utz does most of the booking and deserves the lion's share of the credit for the venture's success, we suspect. A rock fan's rock fan, Utz has great, wide-ranging tastes and a shitload of contacts that he's built up over the years. Thanks for sharing, Mr. Utz.