On the evening of March 19th, we hauled ourselves over to the heart of downtown Atlanta, where we normally spend very little time. Parking is surprisingly easy in that area after business hours, and the minute we exited the car, we were immediately flanked by numbers of homeless men who seemed to have an uncanny sense of where we were going. I dunno, maybe we looked out of place. “You going to the concert tonight?”, they kept asking. Indeed we were. Some were not quite as dead-on as to the nature of the show, but they were willing to take a stab at it- “You going to see the Rolling Stones tonight?” Close enough, though. A few wanted payment for watching out for our car, and some wanted payment for pointing us in the right direction of this non-Rolling Stones concert. We were on our way to the Mammal Gallery, and the headliner that night would be Pizza Underground.
This was one of those we had to earn, that’s for sure. The first two openers were decent enough, but it was a long wait and Jon had to grab a sweaty shirtless Frenchmen by the armpits, to prevent him from landing on my head when he leaped off the stage into the crowd. After that was more waiting a lot of drunk hipsters steadily increasing the pressure on all sides. Finally, the frontman of Pizza Underground came out with a flourish and greeted us warmly. The crowd was thrilled at his appearance, only to be deflated in an instant. He was only onstage to announce an extra surprise opening act, for which I sighed and the crowd sighed collectively with me. It was the guy from Moldy Peaches, whom I don’t feel like bothering to look up right now. I hate Moldy Peaches. At least Kimya Dawson wasn’t there. She looks like she smells bad. The guy seemed like a decent person, but the crowd, especially up in front, had been waiting for hours to see the upcoming band and were getting impatient. At one point Moldy Peaches guy said “Ok, I have a few more songs….”, which resulted in a very audible groan from the audience in unison. It was also at the point that somebody threw a slushball at him. At least it felt like a slushball when most of it hit me in the head (I was in the front, and I’m pretty sure it was directed at Moldy Peaches guy and not me). I was in a pretty horrible mood from standing in a crowd for hours and because it was much, much later than we usually stay out for a show on a Wednesday, but I managed to muster some polite applause for Moldy Peaches guy because I felt kind of bad for him. If they wanted him to be an opener for Pizza Underground, they really should have warned everybody so that they would have been nicer. Nobody likes a bad surprise when they’ve been waiting pressed against a throng of sweaty bodies for hours on end.
Finally it was time for Pizza Underground. We could tell it was getting close because a stagehand set a bunch of pizza boxes on the floor.
Indeed they turned out to actually contain pizza, which we would find out shortly. The frontman reappeared and they started their first song.
Now he looks familiar- just…older. It was none other than Macaulay Culkin. Yeah, *that* Macaulay Culkin. I’m a Culkin hipster, meaning I preferred his role in Party Monster to Home Alone.
His band here, Pizza Underground, is a Velvet Underground cover band, only the lyrics to the songs are changed to be songs about pizza. This tour was also the very first for Pizza Underground. I wanted one of the Pizza Underground t-shirts they had for sale, with an anchovy mimicking the Andy Warhol banana Velvet Underground album cover. But not just yet, the show was starting! First things first, Mac and the band opened the pizza boxes and passed out the pizzas to the audience, reminding everybody to take one and pass it back, and not to be grabby or greedy. He also announced cheerfully that those pizzas had been sitting at room temperature in the dressing room for hours and hours.
One of the pizza boxes was withheld, because Mac’s sidekick needed it to provide the band’s percussion section.
The rest of the band’s instrumentation consisted of a guitar and one tambourine. Not much, but enough.
There really are few words to describe an event like this and I knew it, so I took a couple of videos instead. Enjoy.
Jon wanted the full Pizza Underground experience, and his superior height allowed him to reach Mac’s pizza box above the sea of hipsters. He politely took a slice and passed the box back, then ate it without fear.
I had enough fear for both of us. My fear was based on hygiene- a pizza from Macaulay Culkin’s dressing room could be harboring a lot of strange bacteria. Jon later said his bigger concern was that his hands had been wrist-deep in a sweaty Frenchman’s armpits not long ago, and it seemed to affect the flavor of the pizza. He said he wasn’t overly concerned about getting ill and missing work the next day- getting ill from a possibly acid-laced, cold pizza handed to you by a grown former child actor was a valid enough reason to take a personal day.
After the show we found our car safe and sound, and another homeless guy asked for a dollar for keeping an eye on it. Jon had a dollar saved for this very reason, we paid the man and were on our way, full of pizza, totally exhausted, but pleased with how the night had gone.