Many years ago, Frank Zappa answered the age old question: “does humour belong in music?” with a resounding YES! The people agreed with him. Recently, Macaulay Culkin set out to address the question “does pizza belong in music?”
Along with 4 other musicians, the man who was once the boy who dazzled our childhoods in Home Alone and Home Alone 2 has formed a The Velvet Underground parody/cover band aptly named The Pizza Underground. The band changes the lyrics of classic Velvet Underground and Lou Reed songs to be about pizza. Many people may find this ridiculous. Personally, I think it’s an amazing premise.
Last weekend, The Pizza Underground came to town. They performed at Il Motore, a musical venue in an industrial-looking building just North-West of Little Italy. Hipsters who love pizza and/or Macaulay Culkin flocked in from all around town.
The opening acts featured the various side-projects of the musicians from The Pizza Underground. I didn’t catch the first band’s name. Silly songs were sung accompanied by a trumpet. Then, a girl who referred to herself as a part of the band L.A. Boobs dazzled us with her ability to get the crowd singing along to total ridiculousness. Next there was a short break before The Pizza Underground.
During this break, I found myself sitting on a bench near the entrance of the venue. From this vantage I spotted an old friend, restauranteur Boris Popovic of Pizzeria Magpie, walk in with a large stack of pizza boxes and head towards the backstage area. My first thought was “Did Macaulay Culkin order gourmet pizza for everyone?” Walter and I headed towards the bar where we found Boris. Boris confirmed that yes, he band had indeed ordered a large amount of pizza from my favorite eatery. Would there be enough for everyone? Not likely.
Eventually the Pizza Underground took the stage. All dressed in black, most of them sporting sunglasses and using as few actual instruments as possible, the band began to sing. Familiar Velvet Underground tunes floated over the crowd and the pizza-themed lyrics put a smile on every face. Macaulay Culkin himself looked far less inebriated than I had expected, his long blond hair flowing behind him, sunglasses on, tambourine in hand.
After the first song, the band handed the pizza boxes from Magpie Pizzeria into the audience, suggesting that people limit themselves to 1 bite for that everyone could have a taste. Needless to say, people did not limit themselves to a bite and many did not get to enjoy the delicious pizza. However, when those pizza boxes opened and the band resumed playing, a most delectable aroma of hot dough, sauce, and cheese enveloped the audience. It was pretty amazing. I have been wondering all week why pizza in not tossed into the audience at all musical performances.
One of the female band members spoke with a fake German accent between almost every song. Sometimes to introduce the next tune, sometimes to crack a joke. Why the fake accent? Nobody knows. But did it add to the ambiance? It did indeed.
The show was not a long one. How many Velvet Underground pizza parodies can any one band perform? Only about a half hours worth. But at the cost of 13$/ticket, no one was complaining. Walter even gave the band more money by buying a pretty cool t-shirt. And I made out like a bandit after having scored a pretty neat free Pizzeria Magpie hat that the band had thrown into the crowd along with the pizza boxes during the show. Did I gracefully catch the hat with my head? No. But a friend of mine did and as she is not much of a hat person, so the hat found its way onto my head and into my home.
After this night of musical pizza mayhem, I can safely say that yes, pizza can belong in music, at the appropriate time and place. Last weekend at Il Motore was just that right time and place. It was a trip down memory lane for anyone who has ever ordered pizza and watched Home Alone, or anyone who has ever eaten pizza and listened to the Velvet Underground, or just anyone who has ever eaten pizza, or just listened to the Velvet Underground, or just watched Home Alone, or even just Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It was nostalgia, filtered through the hearts of hipsters. And it was beautiful.
If you would like to hear some of the band’s music, you find their demo HERE!