|Early into the tour in Boise, ID. Day three of forty.|
(left to right: Aubrey, me, Zeke, Johnny (crouching), Joel)
Urlo from Ufomammut is also vegetarian so all together we had a solid group of veggies in our ranks. Still, eating vegan on the road can prove to be quite challenging, especially in the plains and farmlands of the rural US. One great reprieve was that the booking agent for the tour had ensured that the Ufomammut rider for every show would require the promoter or venue to provide hot meals or a $10 per-member buyout. Ufomammut were also very keen in their rider to have fresh vegetable trays, fruit, sparkling water (Europeans love it) and other healthy snacks, in addition to the standard beer and bottle of Jack Daniels at each show; and they were always generous and shared with their scrappy little brothers in Usnea.
|Uzala charming the Neurolux at our show together in Boise, ID.|
|We were lucky enough to be able to catch Samothrace at the|
Crazy Horse in Boise, Idaho right after our show at Neurolux ended.
Then both Salt Lake City and Denver were also great for vegan food. We ate at Sage's in SLC (234 900 S, Salt Lake City, Utah) which was a great all vegetarian cafe with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients as well as local Utah beers. Speaking of FULL percentage beers, Utah has weird Mormon-influenced conservative laws regarding everything, including alcohol and we lucked out on finding a great beer bar with regular full strength beer in the bottles (drafts all have to be 3.2% sadly) called Beerhive (128 Main St, SLC, Utah). A slight time warp, but at the end of the tour four weeks later, we returned to Utah (playing an awesome show with Ufomammut and the local brilliant folks in Subrosa this time) and we all had phô at an awesome vegan Vietnamese spot called All Chay (1264 W 500 N, SLC, Utah).
The first show we played in Denver we were in a rush due to the long drive through Wyoming and thus we didn't eat anywhere memorable but just hightailed it to the venue. I ate at some nondescript Thai place near the venue before the show with Johnny, but the second time in Denver with Ufomammut we ate together at an awesome dinner with great vegan options next-door to the Hi Dive (the venue we played that night) called Sputnik (3 S Broadway, Denver, CO). I think we all ordered the falafel... my memory is a little hazy. Of course Denver has many more options than that. I have eaten at the excellent vegetarian Denver institution Watercourse Foods (837 E 17th, Denver, CO) many times on tours past.
|Usnea drunk on the couch in Denver. Photo thanks to Aubrey.|
Homebrew, couch and breakfast thanks to our pals Tyler and Kelly!
While we had a great time in Lawrence, KS; food wasn't a highlight. I think I went hungry that night just munching on warm hummus and bread that I had bought in Boise at the co-op. Kansas is a large state and the drive from Denver, CO to Lawrence, KS is LOOOOONG, practically all the way across the state to Missouri.
|90% of the time on tour: drive, sleep, drink, wait, van party... Repeat.|
|First night with Ufomammut at Reggies, Chicago, IL.|
Next was Cleveland, OH where we again ate at the venue, Now That's Class (11213 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH). The food was prepared off-site by Orale Mexican foods and reheated at the venue. All-in-all, they had decent vegan options and it was filling. Cleveland is a weird city. On to Rochester, also weird, and there was nothing food-wise worth mentioning.
Following a quick stop at Niagara Falls, we drove on to Toronto. The promoter there gave us all buy-outs and some of the band and our roadie/buddy Aubrey ventured off for an Ethiopian craving they had, but Zeke (the drummer of Usnea) and I went walking and found a delicious Phô place. Later in the night, on that same street (the trendy strip of College St in Toronto; there were all kinds of affordable food options including a vegan charcuterie that I didn't get a chance to check out) we had delicious and cheap late night falafels from a little Middle Eastern spot.
|The "Patti"Burrito at Velo Burrito, Montreal, QC.|
|The marquee at Le Ritz, Montreal.|
Ufomammut <3 Usnea and vise versa.
Our Montreal show was one of the highlights of the whole tour with the local black metal bands Show of Bedlam and Tunguska Mammoth both playing impressively heavy sets and the crowd being very enthusiastic and warm. Le Ritz, the venue, had also lined up a beer sponsor so there were cases and cases of really great and strong bottled beer for the bands to enjoy into the night.
|Vita from Ufomammut praising the energetic crowd at Le Ritz, Montreal, QC.|
In the morning, before leaving for Boston, MA for a show without Ufomammut (they had a day off from shows every week, while being the younger band and needing the income from shows to keep going, we chose to play through those days that they had off), we stopped at a random coffee shop that Zeke had looked up when we had wifi and it just so happened to be entirely vegan and stocked with vegan pastries and sandwiches. The cafe had a distinctly French-Canadian flair and was called Café Résonance (5175 Park Ave, Montreal, QC). I was happily sated with a vegan pâté breakfast sandwich and pastry in addition to our morning coffee needs and we were on the road back to the U.S. border.
In Boston we played at the Middle East upstairs (472-480 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square, Cambridge, MA) where they fed us for free as opposed to a buy-out. The food was good hearty Middle Eastern mezza with a plethora of vegan options. There were also two all vegan restaurants on either side of the club on the main street out in front and the area itself is loaded with vegan options as it is across the street from the famous MIT University. Our good friend Joey (from the band Fórn whom we toured the West Coast with last summer) put us up after the show, and in the morning took us to Refuge Cafe (155 Brighton Ave, Allston 02134) where Aubrey split a hangover absorbing and delicious vegan breakfast burrito with me. It was so good I got another whole one to eat on the drive to New York.
|Aubrey and Johnny slinging Ufomammut and Usnea merch.|
|Aubrey and I getting in touch with our inner pizza punx|
at Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, NY. Compliments of
That was the extent of my culinary dive into NYC on this go around, having to leave right away as being on a tour with shows every night demands... but I am fully aware that NYC boasts an array of vegan options and cheap late night eats that I could wax on about indefinitely. Here is a comprehensive guide to NYC vegan spots, some of which I have enjoyed on trips previous: http://www.friendsofanimals.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/NYC%20guide.pdf
|Vegan Philly Cheesesteak, Blackbird Pizza, Philly, PA.|
Blackbird Pizzeria was quite possibly the best place I ate on the whole tour. The entire menu is vegan, and while I was dead-set on getting a Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia, Aubrey chose the cauliflower pizza and shared some with me. It was unbelievably good and bested the pizza we had just eaten in New York. I cannot recommend Blackbird Pizza enough.
|Vegan Taco Salad, Soy Cafe, Philadelphia, PA.|
At the Ram's Head Venue at Maryland Deathfest catering was provided, and being that I really wanted to watch every band playing that night, not-to-mention I was so amped about playing myself, I stayed at the venue and ate the tofu stir-fry and salad provided for the bands. As such I was able to watch all of the bands that night; Iron Man, Primitive Man, Mantar, Conan, Jex Thoth, Ufomammut to the climax with Yob. It was an unbelievable night that no words here will do any justice and we felt pretty elated to be involved at all, let alone getting to play it.
|CONAN wreaking hoodie-clad havoc on the crowd at the Ram's Head in Baltimore, MD for Maryland Deathfest XIII.|
Our next show was in Raleigh, NC. When we got to the venue everyone went off on their own to explore. My aunt lives there and hadn't seen me in a long time so we met up and dined at a high-end Lebanese cafe with a good vegan mezza platter. After Raleigh was Atlanta, GA where we again all went walking off on our own and this time I found my way Soul Vegetarian No. 2 (652 North Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA) which was within a mile of the Drunken Unicorn (where we were playing). I had the Marcus Garvey Burger and vegan mac and cheese and both were satisfying in that way that only soul food can be. The next morning in Atlanta was the only time I attempted to go on a run, even though I had brought my running shoes with the intention to run whenever I could. The day was a hot and humid one but I was glad to get some exercise while temporarily living an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle on the road.
|Breakfast of champions: Frozen Daiquiris, New Orleans, LA.|
|Sippin' daiquiris at the Mississippi Delta, NOLA.|
The next day we fulfilled a drunken NOLA custom and had "breakfast" drive-thru daiquiris (the many fruit options had no dairy), after which Kaiti led Zeke and I to massive breakfast burritos at 13 Monaghan (they boast many vegan options; 517 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA) and then coffee, which after drinking a fruit-slushy alcoholic drink first thing in the morning, was certainly an experience. We wandered around the French Quarter a while, I tried some vegan gumbo (I make one that is better), and then Kaiti brought us to a favorite spot of her's; a decrepit old cemetery where the bones float to the surface due to the water-logged swampy grounds being below sea-level to appease the goth within us.
Our show that night was at Siberia (2227 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA) and they provided delicious food of Eastern European/Russian influence. I had a beet burger and with a beet salad, and the others enjoyed some blinis and pierogis that they seemed to enjoy. Siberia is a really cool spot that I highly recommend checking out whether there is a show there or not.
|Some human bones were scattered around that had floated up from the swampy ground at Holt Cemetery, New Orleans, LA.|
|The scrumptious "Renedict" at Bouldin Creek Cafe, ATX.|
Ufomammut wanted to go and "see the UFOs" in Roswell, NM for our day off between Austin and Albuquerque so we drove all day through some intense winds and thunderstorms getting into Roswell late but early enough to check into a divey hotel and then meet up for beers at the only spot nearby that was open, Applebee's. Yeaaah, that place still sucks. There is not much of a nightlife in Roswell, NM.
In the morning we explored some kooky tourist trap UFO "museums" and a few rad but overpriced antique shops and then got on the road for our show in Albuquerque. At the venue, a bar called Sister, Joel and I passed the time with several games of kicker (table soccer) against each other and eventually with the extremely skilled bartender. Before the show, we were invited to the home of some friendly crust punks that were friends with Zeke, and they made us a generous tofu and veggie taco dinner with a case of PBR to wash it all down.
|When in Albuquerque:|
|Ufomammut tearing it up on the stage at Sister, Albuquerque, New Mexico.|
|Tacos con coliflor, Tania's 33, Tucson, AZ.|
You might ask how I can eat so much Mexican food, and I would tell you that I could eat Mexican food everyday until I die. It is my favorite of all foods... and as such, Tania's 33 is on par with THE BEST Mexican food I've ever had, definitely joining the ranks of my other favorite Mexican eateries: Ranchos Cocina (3910 30th St, San Diego, CA- however, we didn't make it to San Diego on this tour), Pancho Villa's Taqueria (3071 16th St, San Francisco, CA), Yeikame (Calle Jose Mariscal 10, Sayulita, Mexico) and La Penca Azul Taco Truck in East Oakland (720 High Street, Oakland, CA).
|My precious: soyrizo breakfast burrito wrapped in a mouth-wateringly delicious handmade tortilla.|
At Tania's 33, Tucson, AZ.
|Proof dinosaurs coexisted with humans.|
|Pizza punx gone wild!|
Cruzer Pizza, Los Angeles, CA.
|Vegan doughnuts from Doughnut Friend, LA, CA.|
|Nils and his tofu scramble at the|
Walnut Ave Cafe, Santa Cruz, CA.
|Salud! Tofu Rancheros Burrito from Pancho Villa,|
San Francisco, CA.
|Badr Vogu crushing as they opened the show at the Elbo Room, San Francisco.|
In the morning after a late-night with our lovely pals Keen and Clint from Augurs, another excellent band we've toured with, they insisted we try Timeless Coffee, a fairly newer vegan coffee shop and bakery. I tried an empanada, a "cheese" pesto roll and had the affogato: vanilla soft-serve doused in espresso. I was impressed and have been back since on more recent trips to the bay.
|Vegan pesto "cheese" roll and Affogato, Timeless Coffee, Oakland, CA.|
|Tacos dorados con papas picante y tecate, Chita's Taqueria,|
|Lycus dropping their gloom on the crowd at the Press Club|
in Sacramento, CA.
It was nice, though a bit dizzying, to have such a short respite at home in Portland. All of us went home to catch up with our lovely partners and make amends with our cats/dogs. After the brief break in Portland and a great home-coming show at Rotture (RIP to a great venue), we were back on the road with Ufomammut this time joined by our friend Brian as roadie and merch person for the final stretch of tour.
|Happy hour reuben at Plum Cafe, Seattle, WA.|
|Subrosa sharing some of their incredible heaviness with us in Salt Lake City, UT on our second round there.|
|Brian approves of nutritional yeast and pizza, the thumbs-down|
is to my obsession with food photography. At Classic Slice,
|Urlo and I wearing one another's hand-drawn art after we traded band shirts.|
The last show was bittersweet as parting ways with the guys of Ufomammut was sad, and being at the end of such an epic adventure was also intense, but we had one last rowdy night of partying with them at the hotel in Milwaukee and in the morning they departed for Chicago to fly home to Italy and we set out on the long drive from Milwaukee back to Portland. On our way we mostly just drove with few stops other than to sleep; the first night at a hotel in Dickinson, ND; and then to camp along a beautiful creek on the final night before getting home just east of Missoula, MT. When we reached Portland, there is no denying that it was good to be home, but we also all left a little piece of ourselves on the road and with our friends in Ufomammut.
|Ufomammut and Usnea farewell huddle.|