Thursday, November 11, 2010

Foreigners in America. Episode 1

So where we left off; Jun gave me magical sounding name of a venue in Philadelphia. I made my way there and was confused and frightened to discover nothing more than a little house that looked pretty trashed from the outside. With the foreigners (and their tour manager) all on British phones, and me not able to call outside of the country, I couldn't reach anyone to hear how far they were from Philly. More importantly, I couldn't find out if I was at the right location or if, at any minute, some West Philly crackhead was gonna show up and stab me for sitting on his porch. But, unable to reach anyone all I could do was sit on that porch and wait, drawing some comfort from the faded Disney Land poster stuck to the inside the window. Confused, afraid, separated from the band and feeling lost in America, this was totally one of the low points of the tour. Luckily it doesn't drag out for all that long. A SUV pulls up next to the house, a dude steps out and walks towards me with a face that's either angry or confused. I struggle to explain what I'm doing there and rattle off a few incoherent syllables. "Oh you're in the band?".

Confused dude (Martin) lets me into the Sprinkle Kingdom and the place changes from scary to magical in a flash. While it's got nothing on the smashed glass, cigarette butts and lingerie catalogs that covered their porch, the house is still kinda a mess. To a messy guy like me is immediately welcoming. Feels like there are synths lying around and hand drawn signs stuck up in ever room Martin lead me through. And then there's the basement. Right off the bat I love this place. Martin introduces me to two more Knights of The Sprinkle Kingdom. Jon (who's sick and doesn't wanna make any physical contact) and Jeff (who does). The dudes fill me in on the supporting acts for the night. Omar, Skateboards and Bonjour all sound like cups of tea that could be mine depending on my mood. Jon heads back to his room, Jeff and I hang in the kitchen talking about Weezer and Islands and "how the fuck do people that write such good songs and then suddenly start writing really bad songs?". Jeff needs to go skype his girlfriend, but he tells me to make myself comfortable;

"We've got food and we've got video games?"
"I think I'm just gonna work on my visuals a bit"
"Okay cool... Oh yeah! Today is Columbus Day - there's an arcade a few blocks away that's free all day!"

Obviously unable to choose working over free arcade games I get directions to this spot and head out into the streets. Things suddenly seem a bunch less scary now that I know I'm in the right place. Also - there are squirrels. When I reach the arcade the place is packed. Virtually every game is being played by as many players as possible. I land up walking around the whole arcade 3 times, unable to find anything to play. Even without getting my game on this pretty cool - people stopped bring new arcade games into SA almost a decade ago, leaving our surviving arcades depressing graveyards for decomposing "House of the Dead" and "Dance Dance Revolution" machines. Now, seeing new arcade games, ones on a level with next generation consoles, is pretty damn sweet.

Eventually I get to jump into teaming up with some guy on this really frantic gears of waresque rail shooter which we finish. Then I move onto what I've been eyeing since I got here, a Star Wars pinball machine. I head back to The Kingdom after a few hundred balls. Land up hanging out for ages with Jon and Jeff. Start getting a sense of the community that's based around their basement and others like it across the city. It seems pretty damn awesome. It turns out Jon is childhood friends with Anamanaguchi, hence them playing here a few weeks back. He has his own 8-bit (well kinda 8-bit) project called George and Jonathan, I download it, we listen while we chat. Then, to fill them in on the South African music I keep talking, about I play the band this. Jeff feeds me pasta. Jon and I geek out about synths. My phone rings. It's Junior. The Foreigners are in Philly!

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