Review: Eat Your Heart Out Boston! at The Paradise in Boston, MA
Eat Your Heart Out Boston! Rating:
Rock Hard, Eat Well, Give Back
November 14, 2010
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
As an avid Yelper and self-admitted music-aholic, I can’t fathom a more exciting event than Eat Your Heart Out, a fundraiser in support of growing local chefs and local music. With the slogan “Rock Hard, Eat Well, Give Back” met with the punk-rock logo of a pomegranate murder, foodies and music fans alike merged to celebrate, donate, and pig out. Literally. So.much.pig. The event, now in its third annum, was held at the Paradise in Boston Sunday night, enticing a few hundred attendees in support of local organizations Zumix and Future Chefs, grassroots groups providing opportunities and funding for burgeoning talents in both musical and culinary fields.
The evening kicked off at an early bird time of 6:00p, where guests filed in and snaked their way upstairs to embark on gastro adventure. Food options started off promising at the base of the stairs, first with Chef Barros of Myers & Chang’s “Fresh to the Death” rolls, Shrimp and Jicama Rolls with Kimchee and Lemon, packing a pretty potent bite. Immediately following that savory stop on the ground floor was representation from the new Island Creek Oyster House, who left lemon wedges and Tobasco sauce out for us to put on our live-shucked Duckbury Oysters. These oysters were among the best I’ve consumed, and the small army of fellows shucking the shells worked deftly with impressive speed and presentation.
After making my way upstairs, though, it quickly became apparent to me that it was good I had eaten dinner prior to my arrival. Much of the upstairs options had some kind of pork product incorporated for additional sinful oomph, and I don’t dine on the swine. Not that I was particularly surprised – I watch Top Chef, and I know how these things go. A chef’s faith in bacon is practically a religion, and I’ve seen more than one harboring pig tattoos. Regardless, I wish that the chefs had coordinated a little better to pass out some Veggie options, as there were only 2 Vegetarian options – one from Tim Weichmann of TW Food, a Sweet Brown Sugar and Butter Cake with Roasted Heirloom Apples, and Regal Beagle/Church Chef Laura Henry-Zubir’s ode to Bob Dylan, “Gnocch’ Gnocch’ Gnocchin’ on Heaven’s Door: Gnocchi, Veggie Bolognese, and Shaved Parmesan,” both tasty seasonal treats. The only upstairs meat option that didn’t involve the other white meat was Suzi Maitland of Trina’s Starlite Lounge’s “Cold Duck Time,” a Smoked Cold Duck Over Cornbread Crostini and Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad. Yum! For foodies with fewer dietary foibles, though, the dining excursion was extravagant and delectable – I heard nothing but high praise from the crowd buzzing around me.
About two hours into the gala we were introduced to two high school Zumix ouputs, Renee Marrone and Jennifer Aldana, each playing three original songs for us. Both girls were very sweet singer/songwriters: Renee sounded like a more pleasant, jazzy Alanis while Jennifer crooned to us in rich-toned Adele fashion. It was amazing to see these girls, the latter especially youthful with braces-laden grin, onstage performing their compositions in front of hundreds.
Next up were local blues musicians Dwight and Nicole, featuring Chef Tim Weichmann on guitar and even Chef Will Gilson briefly on harmonica (both chefs performing in chef-coats). Dwight’s voice was velvety, Tim’s strums were funky, but Nicole’s supreme energy commanded the stage – they were the kind of soulful blues act at which you find diverse demographics boogieing during summer festivals. This performance was the highlight of the evening, and a culmination of the Eat Your Heart Out message: good food and good music belong together, so let’s foster it and celebrate with musicians and chefs together.
Now here’s where the review starts to get a little tricky. The price-point for the event was a little on the high side, as this was indeed a fundraiser. After fees it landed somewhere a little under $50. Most of the people who came out to the show were there for the food and to support the cause, but with a Patriots game on and the marathon event slated to run a full 6 hours, after the Dwight & Nicole + Chef Weichmann set, people started to bail. In droves. There were tons of local folks who I’m sure would’ve been extremely interested in the final featured bands if the price tag on the event hadn’t been so high, but the crowd reduced so drastically for the last few hours that the place went from comfortably crowded to extremely sparse. So I guess that’s the bad news, at least for the bands, which must’ve been a little disheartening, but that said…
I loved this show. Didn’t just enjoy a little bit, wasn’t just happy to be there – I thought this show was absolutely fantastic. Even though the crowd became more intimate, the show reminded me of my high school weekends spent watching peers in local punk shows – it felt similarly familial, the bands and crowd rallying to show their energy. The sets were raw (I mean this in a good way), and even got increasingly silly by the end of the night (also, in a good way). First up was Brenda, made up of Josh Loring, Peet Chamberlain, and DJ Moore. These scruffily dashing gents drove all the way down from Maine to share their alternative beats. I saw these fellas over the summer at the Wilco Solid Sound festival out at Mass MOCA, and they brought the same energy to Sunday’s small crowd as they did to a much higher attended outdoor show just a few months ago. DJ sports dreads all the way down his back, but it’s his fluid, lengthy limbs that make his drumming especially spellbinding. Josh and Peet alternate vocal duties, and while Josh keeps a solid front-man stance with an occasional groove, Peet hammers away like Amadeus on his Fender contempo. I just wish the mics had been a little louder so I could’ve heard the vocals a little stronger, as the boys have quite pleasing pipes. I suggest you listen for yourself on their video, “Blackout” – I’ve had it stuck in my head now for a week.
Next up were hometown indie surf-pop sweethearts, You Can Be a Wesley, who have been steadily rising in the local scene and came with a pretty dedicated posse that kept the crowd hyped. Saara Untracht-Oakner fronts this extremely tight ensemble, and while her delicate vocals have a really pure and innocent quality for such a hot ticket, minimalist production keeps their songs appropriately unrefined in the way matured college indie rock should be. Guitarist Winston MacDonald keeps a pretty subdued-but-not-sleepy attitude, at least by comparison to bassist Nick Curran, who jumps around more wildly and will periodically run around the stage in narrow circles. New drummer Dylan Ramsey has only been with the band now a couple of months but has picked up pretty quickly, keeping the group tight with clean beats on one of the coolest looking kits I’ve seen (solid white with green and blue trim, nothing short of 80’s style fly).
Last up was Magic Magic, the only group I hadn’t seen before, and they were one of the most ridiculous acts I could possibly imagine (again, I mean this in a good way). Front man John Murphy was hilarious, in clear discomfort from having eaten too much earlier in the evening, and asking the crowd in what order to play songs as they hadn’t prepared a setlist. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: the eskimo kisses he gave to the microphone as he wailed, or if it was just how freaking great his voice was. His voice live sounds exactly like one of my other favorite bands, Sleeping in the Aviary, but that is perhaps an overly obscure point of reference. The best way I can describe it would be crazed and impassioned. Interestingly, the Magic Magic recordings sound breezier than their live show, and while I enjoy both, I prefer the incredible energy from the live double-drums (Mike Hlady and Dylan Gough), dexterous instrumentalists (bassist Nick Serra and guitarist Brendan Hughes), and reckless abandon of John in both movement and sound. For the last few songs, combating food coma and broken guitar strings and cracked cymbals, the quintet somehow managed to get the crowd even more riled up with the show’s most hardcore fans moshing wildly, the tamer in the bunch dancing unabashedly on the side. For just a few dozen people, we sure were good at cheering loudly when it was all over.
After an event that started out so massive and tapered to so few, for those of us that stayed the night only became more spectacular. The early evening culinary adventure only whet the appetite for the true local music supporters, but in the end, I think no matter how long people stayed the event was worthwhile for all involved. Zumix and Future Chefs had a great fundraiser, local chefs received increased exposure and attention, and the late-night crowd was undisturbed by lack of bodies in their enthusiasm. The bands played hard and the audience rocked hard, making the show personal, collegial, comfortable, and memorable. I can’t wait until next year.
For the foodies, a breakdown:
Tim Wiechmann – TW Food – Inspired by the Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar,” Sweet Brown Sugar and Butter Cake w/Roasted Heirloom Apples
Barry Maiden – Hungry Mother – Inspired by Meatloaf, Pig Head Scrapple with “Bat Out of Hell” Sauce
Jamie Bissonnette – Toro / Coppa – Slayer Bocadillo: Reign in blood Sausage with Kimchi and Cilantro
Louie DiBicarri – Sel de la Terre – “American Pie,” Apple pie, bacon-vanilla ice cream, salted caramel
Suzi Maitland – Trina’s Starlite Lounge – Inspired by Jack McDuff’s “Cold Duck Time,” Smoked Cold Duck Over Cornbread Crostini and Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Will Gilson – Garden at the Cellar – Inspired by Led Zepplin’s “Black Dog,” Black Truffle and Pistachio Sausage with Turnip Kraut and Mustard Aioli
Seth Morrison – The Gallows – Bacon Caramel Gold Phish Mix
Matthew Barros – Myers & Chang – “Fresh to the Death” rolls – Shrimp + Jicama Rolls w/Kimchee and Lemon
Tiffani Faison – Rocca – Inspired by Ray Lamontagne’s “NYC’s Killing Me,” Pork Belly Agrodolce, House Made Hots, Fole Pastrami Mayo and Crispy Onions.
Anthony Marco – Lineage – Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwiches Stuffed with Carmelized Bananas and Bacon
Laura Henry-Zoubir – Regal Beagle / Church – Inspired by Bob Dylan Gnocch’ Gnocch’ Gnocchin’ on Heaven’s Door: Gnocchi, Veggie Bolognese, and Shaved Parmesan
Josh Buehler – KO Prime – Alsatian Tripe Baeckeoffe, Pork Belly Lamb Shank, and Homemade Sausage Stew in Bread Bowls
Island Creek Oysters – Duckbury’s Island Creek Oysters