Pizza Underground Booed At Dot To Dot

Macaulay Culkin’s Pizza Underground started as a total joke but has gone through a twisted hype cycle that has made them into a real band, or at least a band real enough to get third-line billing at the UK’s Dot To Dot Festival. (They’re booked for Riot Fest, too.) The Dot To Dot audience yesterday didn’t take to Culkin’s innocuous pizza-themed Velvet Underground covers, however, and after only one song began to boo and throw full pints of beer at the stage. “Why are you throwing those? I’d rather drink them?” Culkin cried out. But after only one more song, he called it a night.

The Nottingham Post was on the scene to gather a reaction from the crowd: “It just sounds awful. I can’t believe he is doing this. Why bother? It must go down well in America or something,” said one brave unnamed audience member. “I feel really sorry for him. I mean, the music did sound terrible, but it isn’t very fair to be hit with so much beer and booed is it,” added eternal optimist Jess, 19, before going home and rewatching Home Alone for the umpteenth time.

Festival organizers said that, “it’s such a shame that some members of the crowd had to ruin what was set to be an excellent show. [...] Hopefully they’ll get to play in Nottingham again one day soon.”

The Pizza Underground tweeted, “Thank you so much Nottingham and dot to dot. Sorry that a couple people ruined it for everyone.” Hopefully Nottingham gets the concert it deserves sometime soon.

Comments (23)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  2. If you promise pizza, you better deliver.

  3. This conclusion was inevitable.

  4. ever had pizza in england… I bet I know why they were upset with some snotty New Yorkers with access to delicious pizza singing about how great it is when at 2am all they have access to is indian food and fried fish.

  5. Great! If this kind of thing happened to all talentless hacks/gimmicky groups/resurgent has-beens, the world would be a happier and much healthier place.

    You don’t feel sorry for the fully-grown asshole who decides to start a pizza-themed cover band, you feel sorry for the audiences that had to experience it.

    • Hallelujah. Music is full of has-beens and wannabes as it is, with groups breaking up and then deciding to “give it another go later”, only to suck worse than they did when they were first formed. The last thing we need is a washed up child has-been singing songs waffling on about pizza, and then realizing that not everybody shares his taste.

      Frankly, I hope he doesn’t get to play again. Anywhere. If he doesn’t like getting beered at Dot to Dot, may may Christ not preserve his soul if he goes to Riot Fest. It won’t just be beer there – if he sucks wang at Riot Fest, he’ll cause a riot. They don’t take kindly to crap music, worse, they don’t take to crap musicians as a whole. They’ll pelt him with something worse than beer – it’s *almost* the same color as lager, but smells different, and it doesn’t need fermenting.

  6. gods in his pizza heaven, all is right with the world

  7. “A twisted hype cycle” (that we were a large part of).

  8. This is just a stark reminder of when a joke goes too far.

  9. Way to go Macaualay! You got ‘em! You got ‘em good! All those drunks at Nottingham, and all the commenters replying to this news around the globe! All the false anti-celebrity outrage. I’ll bet most of the people who threw beer/would throw beer had a hand in making, if not this particular monster, some other version of this. Of course the Pizza Underground is a dopey joke that wasn’t funny for more than 2 minutes. If Culkin likes doing it, I have no problem with it. Neither you nor I have to buy any of it. But realize – he doesn’t want your indifference – he wants you to hate this.


    I try not to eat mac n cheese anymore, not because it’s akin to eating an entire block of cheddar—or worse, if you’re eating the true mac n cheese, Kraft—and I can already at age thirty-one feel my arteries tightening. I don’t avoid it because I don’t want it. I actually yearn for it sometimes, and with me it’s very rarely mind-over-matter. If I want to drink six beers I drink them, end of story. So why do I withhold from one of the things I enjoyed most?

    For the same reason I’m not going to see Macauley Culkin’s Pizza Underground tonight.

    I wait tables at a restaurant that serves lobster mac n cheese, and ours is pretty goddamn amazing. It’s a mac n cheese for adults, plenty of lobster and bacon and garden peas thrown in there to make you feel comfortable ordering baby food as an grown man. What strikes me, though, is that when people order it I can actually see what they truly want. What they want is the reason it’s called comfort food—everyone wants something that reminds them, consciously or unconsciously, of that time when things were simpler. When love didn’t have to be earned or asked for or proven, when it was there just because, because you were there and you were helpless and what else is there to do but love a helpless creature with snot in his nose? Call it nostalgia if you wish, but it’s more than that. It’s not just a longing for the past, it’s a longing for a condition of being, something akin to Picasso’s assertion that he trained his whole life to paint like a child. Ask a child—a niece, a nephew, your son, a cousin, friend—of six or seven if you can inspect the contents of his pockets. What you’ll find in them is exactly what I’m writing about, once you realize that each of these items—a stick, fifteen cents, half of an eraser, one of your old key-chains (where did he find that, anyway?)—is meticulously cataloged and that each one actually means something to him, you’ll recognize that innocence and remember that once this world was magic and everything was both very new and very, very real.

    Now inspect the contents of your pockets. A hundred and fifty dollars in cash. A cell-phone. A set of keys and their attending responsibilities. A leather wallet holding credit cards, a plastic picture of yourself with your name on it, and the phone number of a girl you never called folded neatly on a napkin and tucked away to remind yourself of your value.

    So what? If you’re feeling nostalgic and you want to feel like a kid again, why not order the mac n cheese and eat it and remember all the times your mother made it for you? The answer is that chasing after these childhood feelings yields the same result as someone who injects himself with heroin. It’s never as good as the first time, and each time you draw from this wellspring each time you diminish it. There’s only so much left in the tank, and once you burn that fuel it’s gone and can never be replaced.

    What’s all this got to do with Macauley Culkin’s Pizza Underground? There are a few rituals I hold dear. Watching Home Alone or Home Alone 2 on or around Christmas is one of them. Wonderful movies, still hilarious to this day. There’s little Kevin McCallister running around with his BB gun on his back defending his house—decades later I read this as a metaphor for how our childhoods are methodically torn to shreds—from Joe Pesce and Daniel Stern, be they the wet bandits or the sticky bandits. It’s a simple pleasure, and it is good.

    1990 was twenty-four years ago, though. Now here I am, a thirty-one year-old musician/bartender/slacker. I’ve been playing and recording music in this city for almost ten years—a labor of love, yes, but a labor that takes its toll—always practicing and working. Now Kevin fucking McCallister shows up in my city playing the kazoo in a pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band. I could list everything about it that I simply loathe. I could ruminate on the fact that this talentless brat was handed the ability to do virtually anything he wished and this is his contribution? I feel like a teacher staring up at a promising pupil as he turns in a multiple choice test early after circling all Cs and leaving to get high in the bathroom. I could complain that he never even had the discipline to learn to play the fucking guitar, which makes his Boston visit even more fucked up, because here we all know how to play the guitar. The rest of the band? Don’t even get me started. Matt Colbourn is perhaps the reason the Taliban hates us. He’s at least one of the reasons that I hate us.

    I could also start rambling about how it’s a sacrilege to abuse the Velvet Underground’s music like this. Not because it’s holy, or untouchable, or that I’m a die-hard Lou Reed fan. It’s because of the enjambment of pizza and the Velvet underground. It’s simply not clever. There’s no conflation of imagery, there’s no higher-order metacognitive humor hidden beneath. It’s just stupid. The vocal constructions are contrived at best, but, for the most part, are painfully thoughtless. Pitiful, but that word implies some sort of empathy. Fuck them.

    The show will be packed tonight. I’ve been listening to the radio and they’re saying it’s sold out. People will flock to hand their money to Macauley Culkin, hoping to exchange their dollars for the feeling one gets from eating mac n cheese and the chance to see the novelty of Kevin McCallister in the flesh. But if any of these people who blindly invest themselves in this debacle—I’m sure more than a few of my friends are going, people I respect and love—are able to divorce themselves from that novelty, I hope they are able to look at the thing in and of itself. This distance must, by the law of modus tollens, result in the inevitable realization that This shit sucks. From there it’s only a short chain of logic. This shit sucks turns to these people suck and when he admits his participation in the absurdity the honest man extends that logic to its conclusion: I suck.

    If you disagree with this logic, let me offer this conundrum: when you were a child and you were watching Kevin McCallister running around the streets of New York, is this what you imagined him doing at this age? Is this what you imagined yourself doing at yours?

    Personally I don’t like the look of Macauley Culkin these days, with his ratty, scraggly blonde hair, his skinny jeans, his lack of confidence. The fact that he looks like what was valuable about him was sucked out by his insane mother with a vacuum cleaner a long time ago. I’d prefer to hold him in space and time as a mere Kevin McCallister and leave it at that. Because if I have to consider what happened to him I also have to consider what happened to me. There aren’t many things that make me feel good anymore, and as they’re taken away one by one, slowly, like weeds swallowing a garden, I get stingier and stingier with what’s left.

    And I ain’t handing an ounce of it to Macauley Culkin. Lord, no.

    Get real.

    • Everybody here better read this comment.

    • Hey man, this is no place for sobering reality, this is the internet!! All joking aside, this essay is pretty amazing. I’d argue that trying to recapture the consequence/responsibility-free, inhibition-less feeling of childhood is why a lot of people like to get drunk every weekend. It’s all about recreating the reckless abandon of youth, a reaction to the confines of the work-week. That being said, I can’t picture a day that i’ll stop eating boxed mac n’ cheese! But then again I’m still technically in my 20s and don’t care about my health..

    • You probably put more thought into typing that out than the whole band put into (kind of) writing their music. I salute you.

  11. If you’re going to take classic songs by a beloved and recently deceased songwriter and turn them into novelty songs about food, it’s reasonable to expect some negative reception.

  12. I’m pretty sure that the whole point of the Pizza Underground is to be incredibly stupid, people don’t seem to be getting this. I don’t think Macauley Culkin and crew are imagining themselves going to the top of the charts with “Take a Walk on the Cheesy side” or whatever, but if people are going to their shows why not keep doing them?

  13. This was the correct initial reaction to this band, so well done Nottingham.

  14. I would love to hear John Cale weigh in on this.

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