Creep Records at the Piazza in Philadelphia started at the humblest level, as a house show venue in West Chester. From there the company went on to become a record label, a high-end smoke shop, a record store, and, most recently, a small venue again.
Creep Records as it is today, was created as a record label in 1993 by Arik Victor, who is still an owner today. Before opening the label, Victor operated what was called the “Creep House” in West Chester.
“The ‘Creep House’ was like just this house that should have been condemned about 50 times where they’d just throw the house shows,” Creep Records manager Will Angelos said. “I was like, you know, 15 and I would go to the house shows, that’s what it started as.”
Eventually Victor, with the number of bands that were coming to his house, decided to get equipment and begin recording them and thus the idea of Creep Records was formed. After forming the label, Victor wanted to open a record store in Philadelphia that could serve as a sort of base of operations. He contacted his friend, another regular at the Creep House, who had founded a chain of higher end smoke shops.
Arik Victor and his buddy are the reason that Creep Records store works today. Will Angelos described it as “collector culture,” between the vast array of records and the high-end American-made glass smoking pieces. The idea is that, as the phrase suggests, people purchase things; glass, records, art, as collectors because everything is high quality and, in the case of the glass and art, made by a local artist.
“The glass side of it demands a lot of attention, just because there’s so many different things and the industry’s changing constantly, all the time,” Angelos said. “what’s different from almost every other store now, even the stores that used to sell American glass or have a heavy focus on local, they have an import case, where they sell import glass that’s essentially slave labor, that’s why they’re so cheap.”
The glass used to make the pieces isn’t just high quality; in most cases it is made by local artists who are affiliated with Creep Records. So, in addition to making quality products they also strive to support local artists. In addition to glass art Creep Records also shows and sells local art works like paintings, sculptures, clothing, whatever local art they can find.
Molly Belface, a worker in the smoke shop portion of the store, called Creep Records an “elite smoke shop,” adding, “We have glass ranging from like 20 bucks to multiple thousands of dollars.”
Belface talked about the store’s support for local artists and musicians, but also emphasized the experience, describing it as “hands-on.” She said that she knows most of their customers, “and not from outside of here — like we get to know them.” She went on to explain that they try to provide an amazing and very personal experience.
Most recently Creep Records went back to its house show roots by starting a small venue connected to the store. The venue is nothing fancy, but it sure beats a crowded basement. Saying the venue isn’t fancy is not to say that it isn’t stocked with quality light and sound equipment, and enough space to fit plenty of people.
“We do art shows, we do live music performances, we do meet and greets” Belface said. “The whole nine yards.”
Creep Records put on a show to celebrate the end of the school year called “School’s Out Art Carnival,” which as the name suggests had a carnival theme complete with cotton candy, popcorn and awful beer. The ‘Carnival’ featured performances by local performers including rapper Ronnie Riggles and saxophone player Jeremy Garcia. In addition to these two the show featured art work from 11 local Philadelphia artists and four other performers. The concert was $5 and proceeds went to the Flint, MI, water crisis.
Shows at Creep Records occur weekly. The idea is to support local artists as much as possible and be a staple in the amateur art community in Philadelphia. Creep Records buys their pieces from local glassblowers and their art from local artists; they even buy records from local small bands and sell them in their store.
Creep Records is not a record label, not a smoke shop, not a record store, it’s not even a concert venue. Creep Records is its own special entity that provides services tailored for its customers and the Philadelphia community. Whether you’re a local artist, a collector, a Frisbee golf player — they seriously have an entire section just for Frisbee golf because the customers wanted it — or just a curious local, Creep Records is going to have something for you.