Escape to Canada, The Gastronomical G and New York City!


Dear Reader,

I know, it has been some time since we last convened to discuss the details of Bright Eyes Tour Spring ’05. You are probably feeling neglected, left behind, locked out of the bus. But I would comfort you by telling you this: I have simply spared you some of the more dull, monotonous moments in favor of a triumphant return, exciting little tidbits and snapshots of the last few days of tour. I have been abroad. Yes—abroad! Well, not technically, but I have been to Canada, where my cell phone refused to send or receive, leaving my blissfully disconnected from the rest of my life off of tour, a bit of welcome silence. In great appreciation of MFK Fisher, who has been my current literary companion, following is as food-focused diary of my last few days of tour, with some additional tidbits thrown in where appropriate.

We arrived in Toronto, after a bumpy border crossing. One of our crew was denied entry after lengthy interrogation, some youthful indiscretions having followed him through life. He hopped in a cab to Buffalo where he would rent a car and drive to meet us up in a few days time.

Our first night in Toronto was an evening off. We checked in to our hotel rooms and nestled in for a while. Our plans for the evening were simple, and easily met: Dine out at a well-regarded vegan restaurant and meet up with the rest of the band to catch our friends in The Good Life at a bar close by. Jacob, Solana and I ventured to Fresson, the vegan restaurant where three hours, a bottle of wine and several courses later, we rolled out, having stuffed ourselves silly. After a few days of soggy basement cafeteria-style meals that were catered by clubs it was so nice to sit down to a well-prepared meal. I don’t usually indulge in such feasts, but it was so necessary, and it boosted our spirits. We walked down a few blocks on Queen Street to The 360 Bar, where the Good Life were part way through their set.

It was lovely to see Tim, Stef, Roger and Craig, minus Ryan, who had to unfortunately head home for a few days. Tim was in fine form, and even performed a few new jams for us.

Our performance in Toronto was the following night, at a club called The Docks. Apparently known for foam parties, this club was not the coolest, but it was on the water with an incredible view of the Toronto skyline and an amusement center off to the side, with mini golf and a “Confidence Course” that was a bit like an adult obstacle course. I imagined drunk men flailing about, showed off. Or boosting their confidence. Or something. The show went just fine. We ordered in vegan pizzas (eating vegan on tour is the best cure for everything) and salads, which we ate an hour after they arrived, soggy and cold. After the show two kids somehow snuck in to our backstage trailer and sat in the corner for a while, taking pulls off of a bottle of Jameson until someone figured out that they had invited themselves.

After a quick drive we arrived in Montreal, which was delightfully European and also overwhelmingly tourist-y. I walked about for a while down Saint Catherine and Saint Denis, passing coffee shops and clothing shops that favored surf-girl styles: flip-flops abounded. Post-sound check, I headed out for a bite with Shane. We passed up a Taiwanese-vegetarian place in favor of a really vibrant, inviting Italian place. You know the kind: plastic garlic hung on the walls, red-and-white checked table cloths, small band serenading guests. Cheesy. Touristy. Exactly what we needed. We split a carafe of the house wine and ate some mediocre pizza and gnocchi and a salad that was drowning in dressing. I left to catch the start of the Faint set, but Shane was left behind to dispute the bill—they tried to take us for about $10! The food was average, but the company was cozy and the Italian party vibe that the restaurant had cultivated was perfect. On the way back from dinner I stopped to take some photos of the grafitti adorned wall behind the club.

Fast forward a few hours, another border crossing and we were back in the states, in my old stomping grounds of Providence, RI. I woke up with a few hours to spare, and when I had gotten my bearings I quickly headed up college hill for a cup of perfect lentil soup; it was still perfect. Things had changed, Thayer Street was not as charming as it once may have been—too many shops with expensive jeans for sale—but it was a nice to walk around for a bit. Dinner was Cuban wraps and fried plantains. The show went well and I caught up with an old friend, Matt Derby, afterwards. We’re now on an idling bus pointed towards New York City. I am so excited to be returning for our five day stay at Webster Hall. My parents will be coming, and I can’t wait to catch up with friends and places . . . more to come soon . . .