Halfway through the Pizza Underground's set at the packed Marquis Theater, something strange happened. Most of the band departed the stage and flannel-clad one member stepped up, and started playing straight Nirvana covers. The songs might have contained some wordplay or puns, like all The Pizza Underground songs do (which are just Velvet Underground songs with lyrics about pizza) but it was hard to tell over the loud chatter of the crowd. After plowing through a version of "Come As You Are" that was hardly worthy of a middle school talent show, the rest of the group returned and began singing a pizza-themed version of "Perfect Day" as if whatever had just happened never occurred.
Most of the people there were too absorbed in their drinks or conversations with old friends in town to notice if it had happened at all.
Pizza Underground started as a joke video one year ago, and now, somehow, here the band is: With fallen child star Macaulay Culkin, playing to a crowd of drunk '90's kids, Har Mar Superstar fans, and out of town-ers who couldn't think of anything better to do on Thaksgiving Eve. Culkin played kazoo and a shaker, someone hit a pizza box with a drum stick, someone else played rhythm guitar, and one person sang in a clearly fake German/Russian accent and told two vagina jokes, which was two too many. All the songs were partial, containing just one verse and chorus.
For the first ten minutes, it seemed like the parody group had actually managed to pull off some kind of joke. Everyone cheered wildly, took phone videos of Culkin, and chanted "Pizza! Pizza!" over and over. Many were actually eating pizza, others were singing along to the cheese-filled cover of "Stephanie Says," (called "Papa Johns Says"), perhaps in an attempt to show they got it -- whatever it was.
The enthusiasm and awe of standing near a childhood hero only lasted about eight minutes, however. By the time the six-piece had gotten to "Cheese Days" (a cover of "These Days") they were barely audible over the talking crowd who had decided the joke had gone on too long. The cheering had stopped, and the group kept plowing through their brief half-songs, probably all too used to indifference by now. At one point they introduced another group, Candy Boys, who did some kind of '80's EDM song. It was enough to get some people to turn around and face the stage again, but that slight intrigue left as fast as it appeared.
Pizza Underground finished their set with "Walk On The Wild Slice" to feigned enthusiasm. Later, during Har Mar Superstar's set, Culkin would reappear to sing a duet of "Never My Love" and make out with Har Mar. It seemed like the only possible ending to such a strange night.
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