My first vinyl record was Modest Mouse’s ‘We We Dead Before The Ship Even Sank’.
⠀I was in high school. It was the end of summer 2007. And I was seeing Modest Mouse, one of my all-time favorite bands, play at Colorado’s legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which I was lucky to grow up 10 minutes away from.
I wasn’t quite 17. I hadn’t been to that many shows at that point, but my adult taste in music was in full bloom during a very special moment for indie rock. I was also going with a girl I liked. My hormones were firing on all cylinders and my senses were at an all time high.
I had already bought ‘We Were Dead’ the day it came out on CD, so when I saw the vinyl at the merch stand, I bought it out of pure novelty and devotion to the band. (This was before vinyl’s big comeback, and it still wasn’t normal for bands to sell vinyl.)
Before the concert started, the crowd was ambushed by a torrential Rocky Mountain downpour, which soaked us to the bone. When the music started, almost immediately after the rain stopped, it was like we were being baptized and born again.
Isaac Brock was howling like a drunken sailor and playing the guitar with his teeth. They had two drummers leading the march into madness. Johnny Marr was shredding harder than he ever got to in The Smiths. It was the most life-changing performance I’d seen up to that point.
Back at home the next day, with my ears still ringing, I dropped the first LP on my dad’s old turntable, which I hadn’t seen in use more than a handful of times in my childhood but was always hooked up just in case.
The platter was slightly warped from the rain, but it was still the most beautiful object I had ever held. I remember being impressed by its 2x180g weight and sturdy gatefold construction, which gave the music a new sense of gravity.
I knew the album inside and out, but hearing it on wax was a revelation. I remember repeatedly listening to “Spitting Venom” and “Parting of the Sensory” several times over each, marveling at the new dimensions I could hear. Every time I lifted the needle to find the right groove again I felt a physical connection to the music, like a circuit was being completed. From that day on, I stopped buying CDs and started buying vinyl whenever it was available.
That was 11 years ago. Today, my collection numbers 993 by my best count, which means I’ll probably hit 1000 once today’s Record Store Day haul is complete. No matter how many records you own, you never forget your first.
Ryan is a writer, editor and vinyl collector currently based in Los Angeles. He started Mini Music Critic in 2017.