Monday, February 14, 2011

Foreigners in America. Episode 3

Note: This post follows on from here, where we witnessed three awesome bands in an awesome little basement somewhere in Philadelphia. Since this part mostly revolves around when I was playing with the band, there are no photos of any of this. On the plus side there is some video footage, which you can watch here: Having only been reunited with the band a few hours earlier I'm feeling a little out of synch with them as we start our set. Compared to how in-touch I was with The Mirrors before I left SA, the visuals I'm sending out feel random as hell. But, setting aside my own doubts about what I'm doing, I'm having a ton of fun. The basement is just blasting positive energy back at the stage. By the time we get onto playing Eyes Wide I'm having the time of my life. Tear through a chorus. The bass disappears. The guitar disappears. As Jun's drums are the last thing left making a noise I assume this is some new break the kids have worked into the song since I last played with them. But when the drums disappear as well I realise something is going wrong here. I stop dancing, look up, and see a cop standing, dead-center at the foot of the stage.

Cop: Any idea what time it is?
Kelly: Late O Clock?
Cop: It's not a weekend; people gotta go to work. I love music... Sounds good, but the party's over. And with that our friend in blue leaves the basement. Turns out that, with the Kingdom's open door policy, he was able to just walk through the front door, down the stairs, into the basement and right up to the stage.

The Sprinkle Kingdom knights are really confused that we've been shut down. "This has never happened before!". Having only played 3 songs, the band and I are mad disappointed. I didn't even get to play any of the special Sprinkle Kingdom visuals I animated in the lounge while waiting for the Foreigners. But just getting the opportunity to see this little Philly community has put me on a total high. Even if it was just 3 songs; getting to play the Sprinkle Kingdom is something so special that I couldn't be bummed right now. And, considering the set was cut short by such a bizarrely sweet direct confrontation with the law, I'm honestly feeling ecstatic. More awesome kitchen times ensue. Evan and I bond over a tattoo. He's pretty happy I recognize that it's from Watchmen. I explain that I wanted to get the same thing burnt into me back when I played in a band that used Rorschach diary entries for lyrics. There's this sudden buzz of excitement in the kitchen. Jun comes over and tells me it's been decided that we should (as Lex would later tell the camera) "Fuck the police and play on". Everyone dashes back down, into the basement. Plug in guitars. Switch on amps. Unscrew the light bulb. Go!

We don't wanna push our luck too much. We only play another 3 songs and we play them really softly. All the way through "Salt, Peppa" the crowd is making tons more noise than we are. It's fucking beautiful. Honestly, this is one of the best moments I've ever experienced. During "Feels like summer" the pull of the crowd is too much; I run into the dancefloor, get bumped around by the crowd and in the end find myself playing from the back of the basement, watching my visuals exploding behind the band on the opposite end of the room.

Again, it's over too soon. We retire to the lounge and hang out for ages. I brag about how cool things are back home and geek out over how cool things are in this new city I've stumbled into. At some point, while fanning out over Algernon Cadwallader, Evan disappears and returns with a 7 inch record. He pops said record onto an archaic looking Hi Fi in the kitchen and what follows is some of the best 4 minutes in what's been one of the best nights of my life.

"Aaaaaaalways takin' me oooover!"

This single turns out to be a record by one the bands that Algernon were before they started calling themselves Algernon. Years later it's chorus would find it's way into "Some Kind of Cadwallader", one of my favourite tracks on the band's so so so very well loved debut album. The anthemic chorus, playing off this little record, coming out of this old stereo, sounds like it's been sung by a little army. Junior, Evan and I, in the kitchen, singing along, are like our own little rock and roll army; each of us from opposite ends of the world, all drawn together by a song from this wonderful city. This isn't the end of awesome new music from Philly for the night. Back in the lounge Chris plays us The Dangerous Ponies - another band he and Evan play in. They've proudly just finished this album and are about to start touring the thing. It's just awesome. By sometime around 5 I find myself crawling into my sleeping bag in a space on the floor alongside Dan. The sounds of The Ponies still bouncing around in my head as the euphoria of this day (this kingdom, the other bands, our gig & our run in with the law) slowly fades out to black.

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