EVEN THE ROAD crews of the city of Minneapolis couldn't keep the punks away from the corner of Nicollet and 26th one hot day last summer; Nicollet Avenue, the prime thoroughfare of the Whittier neighborhood, had been disemboweled by overgrown machines, and the street was cracked, cordoned-off, and impassable. The Melvins were doing an in-store at Garage D'Or Records--that was the rumor, anyway; the most you could see of the band playing in the back of the crowded store was the top of singer King Buzzo's afro.
"Does anyone here play the drums?" the Melvins called to their fans. A would-be rock star stepped onstage, never knowing he was about to be tortured, forced to play nonstop through an interminable free jam, in front of the sweaty, gasping troops. Outside, kids lined the street and sat in the gutted sidewalk, a sort of make-shift booth running between the store and its then-new neighbor, Extreme Noise. It was a fine day in indie rock.
And those days, it would seem, are over. Terry Katzman, owner of Garage D'Or, recently announced the store's relocation from the spot it had occupied for more than a decade. Those years saw Garage D'Or establish itself as an epicenter of Minneapolis's 1980s punk explosion; Chris Osgood of the seminal local band the Suicide Commandos named the store, and Twin/Tone Records owner Paul Stark has been a silent partner over the years.
Katzman initially set up shop back in '85, shortly after a disastrous fire at Oar Folkjokeopus, where he was then working. "The timing seemed bad, but it was the impetus for me to start over. When the fire occurred, I was living close to there," Katzman says. "I remember seeing the glow in the sky, turning the corner and seeing the store on fire--I remember it looked like a jet flame coming out of the back. We all went to the CC Club and got fucked out of our brains. One of my last actions there was doing inventory. Can you imagine the stink of burnt vinyl, and wading through water that came up to your ankles?"
The struggle to keep his own store operating almost ended with subsequent rent hikes and last summer's construction, which (Melvins show excepted) thinned the store's traffic. So on March 15, Garage D'Or will relocate to the Lyn-Lake area, with hopes to funnel a little bit of hipster money into an improved, albeit smaller store. Although only two-thirds the size of the current space, the new record shop (located on the same block as the Cultural Center of Minnesota and Bassment Records) should be able to muster a bit more ambience than that found in Garage D'Or's infamous hole-in-the-wall. "I don't know how the new store couldn't be nicer than this one," Katzman says. "At least there won't be paint chipping and water dripping from the ceiling."
And as for live rock shows? "Everyone keeps asking me if we're going to do in-stores," Katzman says. "Yes, we will continue to do in-stores even if we have to put bands on the roof. The days of shows like the Melvins or the Muffs are over, though. The space is small, so we'll probably switch to an acoustic format."