Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Foreigners in America. Episode 2

(This second episode of Johnny Foreigner's USA adventures picks up from here)

After I get the call that The Foreigners have finally arrived I jump up and run out of the Sprinkle Kingdom and into the streets of Philadelphia. A block down the road I spot the massive RV that says Canadream all over to it and head towards it.

Seeing the kids again is awesome. I also get introduced to our tour manager Francis, driver Mike and legendary guitar tech Dan. Since tonight isn't a proper show Francis leaves with Mike to go sleep. I catch up a little with the kids and fan out over how cool this little Philly community seems. Jun informs that Algernon Cadawallader (a band he gave me last year and I went CRAZY over) are friends with The Sprinkle Gang. I freak out. The Sprinkle Knights are freaked out that I'm freaking out so much because Algernon are just regular Philly friends to them. In fact, it turns out a bunch of them play in a band that just finished recording an album at the Cadawalladers' warehouse!

While I'm totally in the mode of just wanting to hang out, I'm starting this tour without a sleeping bag. To remedy this Martin offers to drive me to the nearest Target (which turns out to be not so near). Although I'm stressing about missing the party it's great getting to drive around and see this city I'm so quickly falling in love with. By the time we get home from shopping Lex has bought me the cities' most famous food - a Philly cheese steak... ...with waffle chips on the side... ...and (thanks to our shopping trip) I have a dozen bottles of Doctor Pepper to wash it all down with. The Cheese Steak is delicious, but I'm way to excited to eat more than half of it. Martin takes Jun and I up to the balcony on the 4th floor of The Kingdom and we check out the view of the city at night. Head back downstairs and hang in the lounge for a while. Nic walks into the room "hey guys - Skateboards are about to start!" Rounding everyone up like rock and roll cattle Nic drives us into basement and I proceed to have my mind melted. Skateboards are perfect. Super fun, high energy, instrumental stuff. Jon is doing some way crazy synth, the guitar and bass sound like they're high fiving each other and the drummer is a big hairy beastman totally loosing his shit. It's too awesome. My brain can not actually fathom the carnage that would go down if this band could ever play in Pretoria.

Bonjour are next which proves to be a huge surprise. Jeff had described them with a vague "indie" tag, but seeing them now it's a major throw back to early 90ies Chicago. Perfect scream/talk vocals and layers of noodley guitars have my brain screaming "Cap'n Jazz" and my lungs screaming "fuck yeah" after every song. Also, the crazy grizzly man is back behind the drummers freaking out as hard as he did with Skateboards a half hour earlier. We head up to the house to hang for a bit. What's happening in the Sprinkle Kingdom is as perfect as any house party I've ever been at. This reminds me so much of Hotbox back home. But with Sprinkle Kingdom the balance between house and party leans even more to the house side. There's no cover to get in, only a jar that's passed around for people to contribute what they can. There's no bar, people just bring their own booze. Martin and a new friend whip me up a glass of gin and aloe juice, which is way cool. Again the night reaches the point where someone travels from conversation to conversation, fulling everyone in on the fact that the next band is about to start. This whole thing is just too beautiful. I head down the staircase with the silliest grin on my face, too in love with the amazing community we've dropped into for the night. As different as they were from each other, the similarities between Skateboards and Bonjour have me thinking I've kinda got this Philly scene pinned down musically. As soon as Omar start that illusion is well and truly shattered. Just one boy and girl, both members of Omar scream a bunch. The girl plays guitar, the boy plays drums and between two generate an absurd amount of noise. It's punk as fuck. We're next. While everyone else evacuates the basement we start setting up. We all plug in. To prepare for the visuals the only light in the places is unscrewed. And then people start flooding back in...

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