Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

The land might be inhospitable, but Black Plastic isn’t

Attendees sit on the floor of Black Plastic Records in silence while they listen to Mitski’s new album.
Attendees sit on the floor of Black Plastic Records in silence while they listen to Mitski’s new album.

Nearly 20 Miami University students gathered Uptown on Sept. 13 at Black Plastic Records with one common goal: to hear Mitski.

Black Plastic, which opened its Oxford location last fall, hosted an advance listening event for Mitski’s newest album, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We.” Attendees were given free name-tags, wristbands and posters from Mitski’s record label, Dead Oceans.

Plenty of attendees shopped for records and other items before the event started. Black Plastic is home to countless vinyl records spanning over every imaginable genre. The store also sells posters, jewelry, pins, shirts and other miscellaneous items.

Photo by Chloe Southard | The Miami Student
Mitski fans shop around for records and other items before the event starts.

Once the album began, attendees sat on the floor along rows of records to listen. Aside from the smooth sounds of Mitski’s vocals, the store was completely silent. Fans absorbed the music, gazing at the floor or stealing glances at their friends.

After the first side of the album concluded, Steve Schmoll, the owner of Black Plastic, asked attendees how they were enjoying the record. Feedback was positive — so positive that when Schmoll asked if they wanted a five-minute break before he began the next side, fans said no.

Schmoll said this was the first listening event to take place at both Black Plastic locations (Oxford and Cincinnati).

“There was an email from Dead Oceans, Mitski’s label, and I was like, ‘Wow, that’d be a great opportunity, because I know we have a lot of Mitski listeners right here and at the other store.’ [Mitski has] a devoted fan base,” Schmoll said.

Black Plastic was one out of hundreds of record stores to host a listening event for “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We.” Schmoll said he’d like to host more events like it in the future, but the opportunities to do so are sparse.

“[Listening events] don’t happen with every big record,” Schmoll said. “There’s a lot of worries about things leaking. Maybe, for like, six records a year, this kind of thing happens.”

Gingko Hemmerle, a senior botany major, attended the event simply because she loves Mitski.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

“I’ve been on a Mitski deep-dive since the spring, so I was really excited about this [album],” Hemmerle said.

When asked why he thinks events such as this one draw people out, Schmoll had a straightforward answer: “Just devotion to the artist.”

The fans’ devotion to Mitski was certainly on display at the event as they adorned Mitski shirts, bright orange name-tags and wristbands, and posed for photos with their free posters.

As parting words, Hemmerle gave feedback on the record: “It was really good; some of it was kind of adjacent — at least the first side — to ‘All Mirrors’ by Angel Olsen. I really enjoyed it.”