You know when you’re sitting around listening to music and smoking weed with your friends and someone comes up with a genius idea? Like, let’s start a Velvet Underground cover band but change all the lyrics to our favorite songs and make them about pizza! Well, when you’re Macaulay Culkin and your friends are a group of talented “anti-folk” musicians, you don’t just laugh about how hilarious a pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band would be. You record a Pizza Underground EP at your house, put on a free show at a trendy Williamsburg bar, and send boxes of pizza crowd surfing over an adoring audience as you sing. For eight minutes.
Once the Internet got wind of Culkin’s cheese-infused “super star” aspirations this week, his free show was bound to attract a decent crowd. Still, for a near-freezing Friday night, the line of people that extended about a half a block down the street outside Baby's All Right was impressive. Then again, what culturally-conscious Brooklyn 20 or 30-something wouldn’t stand outside in 35 degrees to catch a glimpse of Kevin McAllister singing pizza-themed adaptations of songs they’ve been listening to on Spotify ever since Lou Reed died?
As showtime neared, the crowd surged toward the stage. Patient patrons passed whole pies and paper plates, sipping orange soda from the many liters that littered the bar. When a long-haired Culkin and his comrades finally took the stage, their black jeans, t-shirts and wayfarers silhouetting them against the Candy Crush-like multicolored lightbulb backdrop, the crowd raised their hands as if to salute, but really to snap photos with their phones. The sea of onlookers squealed at the command to “get ready for the best eight minutes of music.”
The Pizza Underground was not being modest. The band moved seamlessly through nine short tracks, as a man dressed as Andy Warhol, with the messy blond wig, round glasses, breton striped shirt, and black leather jacket, waited in the wings. Lines like, “comes from Dominoes 1-2-3, more than 30 minutes and that pizza is free,” and “I had meat lovers, I don’t think I’ll risk another these days,” elicited uproarious laughter from the audience. These people came to “LOL,” and that’s what they did.
Yet, the performance wasn’t just funny, it was, briefly, reminiscent of The Flight of the Conchords or Tenacious D or “Weird Al” Yankovic. The often-garbled Velvet Underground isn’t exactly an easy act to impersonate, but singer Phoebe Kreutz mimicked Nico’s throaty voice with aplomb.
There was a moment in the show when Culkin did a kazoo solo on “Take a Bite of the Wild Slice.” While it only lasted for a few seconds, the audience roar revealed that this is what they had come for. The star of Home Alone, My Girl, Saved, and Party Monster really was in a pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band.
When the music died, the band exited stage left as the crowd chanted, “One more slice! One more slice!” Sadly, there was no encore. The audience emptied, revealing a floor littered with empty cans of Modelo and crushed pizza boxes. On the ground was one crumpled flyer for “The Macaulay Culkin Show,” a comedy show at Shea Stadium that’s a “tribute to the deceased actor.”
Macaulay Culkin, of course, is not dead. He’s actually, like the aptly named bar, all right. An “exit” door left ajar welcomed leering lingerers backstage. Inside a narrow dressing room was a crowd of friends, and perhaps even Pizza Underground groupies, smoking and passing bottles of whiskey and plastic cups. In the center of the mob stood Culkin, accepting compliments from fans and kisses from his girlfriend, playing the role of the rock star.