F&W's Kate Krader previews three great upcoming music and food festivals.
If you follow the pizza-filled Instagram account of the L.A.-based band Grouplove you might be surprised to find out that lead vocalists Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hopper both recently became vegans. Former omnivores, they bypassed vegetarianism and made the big jump straight to no dairy or eggs. It’s a lifestyle that jells perfectly with their recent Campus Consciousness Tour, a monthlong traveling village that invited college students to learn about sustainability. Despite the focus on healthy and sustainable eating, the band members haven’t lost their touring appetite. Here are five things they’d love to find waiting for them in the dressing room after every show. Read more >
It’s been a whirlwind year for rockers Fitz and the Tantrums, whose ’80s throwback album More Than Just a Dream came out in May. Their song “Out of My League” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Alternative chart last month, and they seem to be perpetually touring—a lifestyle that allows co-lead singer (and onstage powerhouse) Noelle Scaggs to indulge in her other love, eating. Here are five things she wishes were waiting for her in the band’s dressing room after every show. Read more >
Earlier this year, the legendary Indie rockers Yo La Tengo released their first video in 15 years, which featured them cooking up a delicious-looking tortilla soup. Anybody who knows Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew couldn’t have been surprised, considering that they’ve spent the better part of the past 30 years touring the world and seeking out good food. In the old days they were armed with an atlas, a marked up copy of Jane and Michael Stern’s Road Food, and a grease-stained 10-year-old BBQ-themed issue of Texas Monthly. Today, the bandmates are the experts themselves, as musician friends—such as Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, who referred to the band as his own personal Zagat guide—seek out YLT for restaurant tips. A few weeks ago they played the FYF Festival in Los Angeles in support of their new album, Fade (Matador Records); before the show they sat down with blogger Zach Brooks to talk about eating on tour, barbecue and the sad state of food in their hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey. A portion of the interview is below; to download their entire talk, head to foodisthenewrock.com.
What are some of your favorite food cities?
Ira: San Francisco is almost too good. There is genuine stress of “How are we supposed to possibly go everywhere we want to go?” We do go back to a lot of the same places just because we love them so much. It becomes a “I don't know if I could be hungry again” thing. That’s a good one. Chicago.
James: Nashville is great. In the mid- to late-’90s when we were there I had the best Salvadoran food that I’ve ever had. And there was a Persian restaurant that a friend of ours took us to, and really good Thai food and great Vietnamese food, and it seemed like a town where it was cheap enough for small mom-and-pop places to just set up. And it was insane how great it was. It was cheap and it was amazing and you had your pick of the foods of the world. There was that great place in the market, that Taiwanese couple who ran that lunch stand. But they were these super gourmet chefs, it was amazing. It’s a psychedelic journey that town.
You guys have been touring for almost 30 years, do you feel like you’ve seen this crazy change in the food served in cities you tour through?
Ira: I mean we’ve seen a lot of changes. When we started touring we had a copy of Jane and Michael Stern’s Road Food.
Georgia: And the barbecue book, too.
Ira: Yeah, Vince Staten’s Real Barbecue.
On the tour bus?
Ira: On the tour van. It’s always easy to kind of romanticize certain things
James: Like getting lost trying to find those places Ira: And then finding out they don’t exist anymore. That was so traumatizing.
Georgia: It’s about as bad a feeling as you can have.
Ira: We still have all those books and in the case of the Sterns, there were so many editions. And all the pages are falling out, and our notes are written on them. Georgia: I still have that Texas Monthly from 10 years ago, and it’s just covered in grease stains with pages all over the place.
So what are the barbecue cities you like traveling through?
James: Chicago. It’s been a long time, but we’ve had great experiences at Leon’s on the South Side. “Bulletproof barbecue” at 2 o’clock in the morning or so is a great experience. I think some of our legendary places are gone. Pa & Ma’s in Indianapolis was a regular stop for us always and was probably the best sauce that ever existed.
Ira: I though Pa & Ma’s came back.
James: It came back as more like a soul food place but it was different. Same location, but really different. I remember one time we pulled up at Pa & Ma’s and the guy at the counter remembered us from a previous visit and I just never felt like more of a celebrity in my life. What an amazing place that was, I miss it so much.
How long have you been in Hoboken?
Ira: We moved there in 1981. It’s funny. We were the enemy when we moved in, we were the people who were ruining the town. And now we’ve been there 31 years. The food options in the city are really not that good, shockingly.
Georgia: Considering how close it is to Manhattan.
Ira: Everything that happened in Brooklyn, where the people who couldn’t afford the risk of opening in Manhattan went out to Brooklyn and Queens to try it out. You would think, What’s wrong with Hoboken? We’re rather close too. And it just hasn’t worked out that way.
But the food in Hoboken has gotten better, right? You guys have any favorites?
Ira: There’s a place we love in Jersey City that’s opened up fairly recently. And that’s sort of what I’m saying, you actually see more signs of that in Jersey City than in Hoboken. This place 30 Acres is great.
Do you guys all like cooking?
Ira: Well, Georgia and I just finished our two-week trip to the beach where we just cooked all of our meals. We didn’t eat out ever. Grilling fish, making our own lobster rolls, and our own clams casino.
Georgia: Yeah, that was a new one. And lobster rolls are hard to make good.
So, first off, butter or mayo?
Georgia: Both. Ira: We butter the roll.
Georgia: Yeah, a lot of butter. A lot of melted butter, you need. And then not that much mayo. Some mayo. You’ve just gotta get it right. It’s not that easy.
You don’t need me to tell you that food festivals have gotten exponentially better since the days when a foot-long corn dog was big news. You also know that, beverage-wise, music festivals aren’t just about bad beer in plastic cups that you hope someone doesn’t throw at your head. Still, the improvement is mind-blowing. Think Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Outside Lands in San Francisco. The only problem, besides getting into some of them, is deciding whether to describe these upcoming events as food festivals or music festivals. It’s your call.
Cultivate Festival; Denver, August 17
Food, ideas & music: That’s the tagline of this free, Chipotle-sponsored festival. For food, there are cooking demos from the likes of Top Chef winner Richard Blais and Chopped judge Amanda Freitag, plus lots of dishes such as soft tacos and gorditas. Musicwise, the L.A. band Cold War Kids is scheduled to headline. And then there are the ideas, which include the California Avocado Experience, and the Farm Facts Experience, which teaches about livestock (free-range versus confined, and more). This being Colorado, the craft brew scene will be off the hook, represented by the likes of Avery Brewing Co., Oskar Blues Brewery and Strange Brewing Co. chipotle.com/cultivate
Boston Calling; Boston, September 7-8
Boston is lucky: The town has already had one Boston Calling festival this year, in May. The food lineup for the fall edition is still a secret, so let’s talk about what happened at the spring show, which featured a roundup of the city’s best food trucks, including Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, the Shuckin’ Truck (lobster and scallop rolls, fish tacos, clam chowder) and Kickass Cupcakes (cupcake–ice cream sundaes). As far as the fall music lineup, Vampire Weekend and Passion Pit are headlining; Solange and Kendrick Lamar are scheduled to be there, too. bostoncalling.com
Petty Fest Nashville; Nashville, September 21-22
It might be easier to list the cool chefs who aren’t part of this subset of Nashville’s terrific Music City Eats festival, whose creators include Kings of Leon’s Caleb and Nathan Followill, and chef Jonathan Waxman. (Full disclosure: Food & Wine magazine is a sponsor.) The festival features chefs’ demos and panel discussions with Michael Symon, Tim Love, John Besh, Nancy Silverton, Ed Lee and Donald Link. On the 21st, you’ll also find the fourth annual Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers–dedicated Petty Fest, hosted by the Kings of Leon and the Cabin Down Below Band, with special guests. The website promises: “If you love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers you’ll be in heaven. If you don’t, you will. Petty Fest will do you like that.” musiccityeats.com
The food scene at Great GoogaMooga; courtesy of C. Taylor Crothers
Great GoogaMooga, the epic food and music festival that took over Brooklyn's Prospect Park for a weekend last spring is back for 2013 and kicking off on Friday, May 17. READ MORE >
Chef Graham Elliot at Lollapalooza; © Ashley Garmon
“Our burgers have quail eggs and we have lobster corn dogs with lemon aioli,” says Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction and the founder of Lollapalooza, a three-day music festival that starts tomorrow and has over 50 food vendors curated by chef Graham Elliot in an area called Chow Town. Read more here>
A super-rare Louis Armstrong recording included a booklet of the the trumpeter's most-loved recipes. Now, it's getting a wide release. Learn to make the jazz icon's favorite red beans and rice.
Photo: Adam Macchia
Superfly, the team behind the ultracool music festivals Bonnaroo (in Tennessee) and Outside Lands (in San Francisco), is at it again, launching a free food-focused musical extravaganza in Brooklyn this spring. Its newest project, just announced today, will be called The Great GoogaMooga (old-school DJ slang for "awesome"), and will take over the Nethermead area of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on May 19 and 20. Read more about GoogaMooga >
Tune in on Wednesdays at 10PM ET for Top Chef: Boston, the 12th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.