ATHENS, GA—Thirty-seven record-store clerks are missing and feared dead in the aftermath of a partial roof collapse during a Yo La Tengo concert Monday.
"We're trying our best to rescue these clerks, but, realistically, there's not a lot of hope," said emergency worker Len Guzman, standing outside the 40 Watt Club, where the tragedy occurred. "These people are simply not in the physical condition to survive this sort of trauma. It's just a twisted mass of black-frame glasses and ironic Girl Scouts T-shirts in there."
Also believed to be among the missing are seven freelance rock critics, five vinyl junkies, two 'zine publishers, an art-school dropout, and a college-radio DJ.
The collapse occurred approximately 30 minutes into the Hoboken, NJ, band's set, when a poorly installed rooftop heating-and-cooling unit came loose and crashed through the roof, bringing several massive steel beams down with it.
Andy Ringler, an assistant manager at Wuxtry Records, sustained head trauma when he ran back into the building to rescue a fellow clerk.
"I just had to help," said Ringler, listed in stable condition at a nearby hospital. "I saw all these people coming out bleeding and dazed. I gave up my vintage Galaxie 500 shirt just to help some guy bandage his arm. It was horrible."
Added Ringler: "I just pray they can somehow get this club rebuilt in time for next month's Dismemberment Plan/Death Cab For Cutie show. That's a fantastic double bill."
Joe Gaer was among the lucky record-store clerks who escaped unscathed.
"I was in the bathroom when it happened," said Gaer, a part-time cashier at School Kids Records. "There was this loud crashing sound, followed by even louder crashing, and then all these screams. If I hadn't left to take a leak during 'Moby Octopad'—to be honest, never one of my favorite songs on I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One—I'd probably be among the dead."
"It's just tragic," Gaer continued. "I heard they were going to play Daniel Johnston's 'Speeding Motorcycle.' They almost never do that one live."
Devastated by the disaster, Athens record-store owners are still holding out hope that their employees are still alive.
"All I can do is wait and pray they'll find them," said Bert's Discount Records owner Bert Halyard, who lost clerks Todd Fischer and Dan Harris in the collapse. "They were going to start an experimental/math-rock band together. Dan had a really nice Moog synthesizer and an original pressing of the first Squirrel Bait EP."
As of press time, police and emergency rescue workers were still sifting through the wreckage for copies of Magnet, heated debates over the definition of emo, and other signs of record-store-clerk life.
"I haven't seen this much senseless hipster carnage since the Great Sebadoh Fire Of '93," said rescue worker Larry Kolterman, finding a green-and-gold suede Puma sneaker in the rubble. "It's such a shame that all those bastions of indie-rock geekitude had to go in their prime. Their cries of 'sellout' have been forever silenced."