It’s tough to imagine today’s music consumer pining for a cassette tape. Skipping to your favorite song is a tedious and inexact process. Noisy and warbly, ferric-oxide is hardly the audiophile’s preferred medium. Still, tapes are owed a bit of respect.
On Saturday, October 13, a handful of record stores will celebrate the sixth annual Cassette Store Day, which is dedicated to the appreciation of music’s most underrated format. For decades, the cassette has been the medium of choice for music that defied traditional marketability–unedited Grateful Dead concert recordings, rave tapes, blissed-out new age drones. Even in the streaming age, tapes still have two things going for them: they’re cheap and they hold a lot of music. That’s been enough to help them endure as the go-to format for weirdos and outsiders hoping to put out a record as anything other than ones and zeroes.
Indeed, a list of this year’s special Cassette Store Day releases runs the gamut of subcultures — from afro-futuristic jazz (Sun Ra), to hypnagogic pop (R. Stevie Moore) and third-wave ska (DC’s own Pietasters). CSD can be observed locally at Mobius Records in Fairfax and Purple Narwhal Music & Manga in Rockville.