Luke Pyenson goes to town on fantastic Portuguese-style roasted chicken from Rotisserie Romados. Photo Aaron Ratoff.
Hello! Welcome to the first entry in the Phoenix's Krill tour blog, LICENSE TO KRILL, a weekly installment that documents the Somerville trio's trek across the country over the next month. Drummer Luke Pyenson will report back on show experiences, the various cities and town's on Krill's itinerary, and -- especially -- the band's quest to find a decent meal while on the road. Let's dig in!
After months of planning and one week of intense practicing in my parents’ basement, Krill set out on our first tour this past weekend. We started with a sweaty “kickoff” show at Tufts, where guitarist Aaron Ratoff and I went to school (Krill is rounded out by bassist Jonah Furman). We used to book concerts there up until this spring, when we graduated. Before the show we went to Guru the Caterer (1295 Broadway, Somerville), which is unequivocally the best Indian restaurant in the Boston area -- and likely the country. But the point of this blog is to discuss our findings from the road, so I won’t spend any longer on an Indian restaurant in Somerville that Aaron and I went to literally two times a week when we were in school. That said, the palak paneer there is the type of thing you wanna put into a giant basin and stick your head in. You know?
So we set off Saturday morning for the first stop on our five-week tour: Plattsburgh, New York. Why Plattsburgh? Something we knew from the beginning of this experience was that some places just wouldn’t pan out. Booking a tour this ambitious in scope when you’re as unheard-of a band as we are means that sometimes you’re gonna end up playing shows in places you’ve never conceptualized before. In a few weeks, for example, we have a show in Moscow, Idaho.
Our show in Plattsburgh was actually a lot of fun — we played in the basement of a gallery (ROTA) to an audience of about 15 very enthusiastic people. Our opening act was a local 16-year-old who played a 20-ish minute set of straight guitar feedback and it was somehow one of the most honest and expressive performances I think I’ve ever seen. On the food side of things, all the Plattsburghers insisted we try a local specialty called “cold cheese,” which was a slice of cheese pizza topped with a fistful of cold, shredded, tasteless, mozzarella.
The famous Plattsburgh "cold cheese" slice. Tastes exactly like it looks.
One of the guys we hung out with that night said that it’s “all about the contrasting temperatures and textures.” We each had a slice and agreed that while the temperatures and textures were indeed contrasting, it wasn’t anything to write home (or in the Phoenix) about. But Aaron got a second slice after drinking a little more ($2.50 pitchers of Rolling Rock!) and really felt it, so here I am writing about it. The dude who set up the show also put us up and made us breakfast (scrambled eggs and local purple potatoes, totally good!), so all in all everything was positive. We left Plattsburgh feeling like maybe our shows in the smaller, more random towns could have serious potential.
The next morning we drove to Montreal, which only took about an hour. My friend Cas set up a show with us and his awesomely weird pop band The This Many Boyfriends Club at a venue in the Plateau called O Patro Vys, which apparently means “the next level” in Czech. While the club was cool and the show was a blast, I reached the next level there not by anything at all related to music, but through an order of takeout Portuguese rotisserie chicken.
My friend Cas' sweet band The This Many Boyfriends Club. Check them out!
I’ve been to Montreal a bunch and always meant to try the chicken at Rotisserie Romados (115 Rue Rachel Est), one of those places that makes more or less one thing and makes it absurdly well. It was close to the venue so finally I got my chance. I got a half rotisserie chicken with fries and salad ($8.00ish), which sounds boring, right?
I’m supposed to be writing this food blog so shouldn’t I find shit that’s more interesting than roasted chicken? Let me just say this humble chicken tapped into the most primal part of me and I ate everything with my hands, reflecting that even if I had remembered to take silverware from the place, I wouldn’t have used it. The chicken was super moist, and basted with this wonderful piri-piri sauce that had lots of garlic and I think a little white wine. The skin was appropriately crispy and fatty, and I found the occasional cracked coriander seed hidden in the giant pile of fries on top. The small salad didn’t re-invent the salad game, but was necessary for contrast. Schmaltz and piri-piri sauce were all over my face and hands at the end of all this, and honestly there’s still some chicken fat on my drums cause I set them up right after I finished eating. Whoops!
The next morning we hit up Fairmount Bagels for fresh, hot, incredible, Montreal bagels. Jonah couldn’t get beyond the fact that people don’t really eat them with cream cheese there (“put it in the Phoenix that I demanded sauce [sic] but was denied sauce”), but Aaron and I both agree that the bagels are so good that they don’t need a schmear of anything. They are also $3.00 (Canadian Monopoly Money Dollars) for a half dozen, and therefore the ideal food for a touring band.
Aaron, left, and Jonah, right, enjoying Fairmount bagels. Or rather, Aaron enjoying the bagel and Jonah kvetching about cream cheese.
I’ll mention that their value depreciates every 10 or so minutes that they’re out of the oven, but luckily Fairmount is open 24/7 and constantly churning out fresh sesame bagels.
Other notable Montreal eats were fresh fruit and vegetable samples at Jean-Talon Market (these are free, and you could honestly make a meal of them) and delicious (and cheap!) Armenian-style lahmejun, and vegetarian grape leaves at a place called Chez Apo (420 Rue Faillon Est). We reluctantly left this amazing food and music paradise and headed south, towards Northampton and New York, where we play Friday night.
Tell your friends to come check us out! Or just wait and tell all your Moscow, Idaho friends to see us in a couple weeks.
The holy sesame bagel from Fairmount bagel. We ate these on the morning of Rosh Hashanah.