When beloved Hyde Park vinyl haunt 33 Degrees shuttered its doors early last decade, co-owner Dan Plunkett wasn't ready to abandon his love of record stores. Teaming with friend Blake Carlisle, he began scouting locations for a new store, spending a year formulating plans for his next big venture. In 2005, the two opened End of an Ear at 2209 S. First St. in a tiny building that used to host an art gallery.
Five years later, Plunkett and Carlisle are celebrating the store's first half-decade as a small-but-potent music source — and a hive for the community that's boasted art shows and in-stores and a healthy section for Austin music.
"There was nothing really south of the river at the time that interested us," recalls Plunkett. "We just wanted to create a store that we would want to shop at. And it's getting there. It hasn't totally blown us away yet, but it's getting better."
Part of End of an Ear's success, Plunkett says, was its timely arrival — the store opened its doors just in time to crest the wave of the oft-reported vinyl resurgence. The increasing levels of interest in records has helped propel sales at End of an Ear even as CD sales have declined, and the industry's annual Record Store Day gave the store its biggest day ever in 2009 — and again in 2010, doubling the previous year's numbers and far outshadowing Christmas and South by Southwest.
"When we allotted space for the store we started with a certain vision that was like 'This will be enough for our vinyl.' But no, it's not, we need more and more all the time," says Plunkett. "If you look at the numbers, vinyl jumps so much every year. It's still such a small percentage of the market, but for us that is our market. Our vinyl sales have jumped up about 50 percent every year."
To celebrate its five-year anniversary, End of an Ear will have in-store performances Wednesday through Sunday (see box), including Ola Podrida, Windsor for the Derby, Jonathan Meiburg and Thor Harris of Shearwater, and others.
— Patrick Caldwell
Job hunting. KUT has posted the job listing for Cactus Cafe manager. It pays $46,000 a year, though the total is negotiable based on qualifications. Read the full listing at kut.org/about/jobs. ... Musician/ Marfa City Council Member David Beebe is looking for a young and hungry soul who chews 60-hour workweeks like gum to run Padre's, his nightclub/ restaurant in Marfa, the Big Empty.
"This is pretty much the perfect opportunity for someone out of college to move to Marfa," says Beebe. (That scenario didn't work out too badly for Jake Silverstein.)
Interested parties can contact Beebe at firstname.lastname@example.org. More on Padre's at www.padresmarfa.com.
— Michael Corcoran
Passion Pit at Stubb's. Bands that come through Austin during South by Southwest and have a good experience often continue to play shows here regularly, even if their audience grows significantly. Boston-based indie pop band Passion Pit falls into this category, having played a showcase at Emo's during the 2009 South by Southwest Festival. At that point the band had not released its full-length album — in fact, it was barely a band at that point. Lead singer Michael Angelakos had recorded an EP of catchy synthpop entirely on his own for a college girlfriend a year or so before, and it caught on, so he brought the rest of the band along on tour. A year and some packed shows at Emo's and the Austin City Limits Music Festival later, and the band is selling out two consecutive nights outside at Stubb's.
During the first of those shows on Friday, Angelakos let the audience know how excited he was to be back in town. Though the band's body of songs is still limited, nothing about the set felt stale, perhaps because band members have had plenty of opportunities to hone their skills in a live setting over the last couple of years. Opening with "I've Got Your Number" from the "Chunk of Change" EP, followed by "Make Light" from the full-length "Manners" album, the band set the tone for the evening with pulsating lights and big, dramatic keyboard parts (and the audience set a tone of their own by throwing glowsticks. Phish isn't coming until October, kids).
Angelakos jumped around the stage quite a bit during a speedy version of "Drive Me Crazy" and led an audience sing-a-long during "The Reeling" and "Moth's Wings," two of Passion Pit's more popular songs. It's impressive that he can keep up his falsetto vocal style as long as he can while moving around as much as he does on stage. Also notable was the level of audience engagement. Except for a slower mid-set stretch, even people in the back were paying attention, which doesn't typically happen at Stubb's. It probably helped that the band kept the energy level high through the latter part of the night, offering up strong versions of "Smile Upon Me" and crowd favorite "Little Secrets."
After starting the encore with "Eyes As Candles," the band covered "Dreams" by the Cranberries. It was a fun choice and one that fit well with Angelakos' vocals, though it was unclear how many of the younger fans in the crowd were familiar with the early '90s hit. They closed the night with the infinitely catchy "Sleepyhead," a song which, having appeared on both the EP and the full-length, epitomizes the band's sound with its combination of dance pop and more psychedelic elements.
— Peter Mongillo