March 16, 2014


Macaulay Culkin's Pizza Underground Parody Lou Reed, Kurt Cobain at SXSW

Gary Miller/FilmMagic
Gary Miller/FilmMagic

Although the official Lou Reed tribute at SXSW 2014 was Friday evening, the most inventive tribute to the late rock legend at the Austin music fest came about thanks to the half-baked parody tunes of a Brooklyn band featuring Macaulay Culkin.

Yeah, we're talking about The Pizza Underground, the Internet-famous indie quintet that covers Lou Reed songs with the lyrics changed to pun on pizza. "Stephanie Says" becomes "Papa John's Says," "Walk on the Wild Side" is "Take a Bite of the Wild Slice," "Beginning to See the Light" is "Beginning to Eat the Slice," and so on.

Culkin's band of merry pranksters played a 40-minute set of brilliantly stupid tributes to the late Velvet Underground frontman at 6th Street bar Buffalo Billiards. After the band sound-checked the mics by singing Mary Kate & Ashley's immortal "P-I-Z-Z-A" song, Culkin—his hair pulled back in a tight bun as if he were working a pizzeria—took the stage and the band kicked into a medley of pizza-centric VU tracks.

Shockingly, this one-note goofball idea managed to carry the entire set. Their devotion to the joke is a big part of the success. Much like the Velvets' first tour, the Pizza Underground had an Andy Warhol lookalike lurking in the background of their set, and one of the band members adopted a (hilariously miserable) faux German accent a la Nico.

Culkin's girlfriend Jordan Lane Price also took the stage to perform a duet with him as Edie Breadsticks, a take on Warhol acolyte Edie Sedgwick. The couple traded vocals on "I'm Sticking With You," or in this case, "I'm Sticking With Chew." And in keeping with the original song's winking treacle, they shared not one but two onstage kisses before she exited.

The Pizza Underground also trotted out a Nirvana parody act called Kurt Cobain'd of Nevermound. The beautifully random concept is one guy singing Nirvana songs with all the lyrics changed to the past tense. So "Come As You Are" becomes "You Came as You Were" and lyrics like "what else can I say?" are sung awkwardly as, "What else could I have said?"

It was all unrepentantly silly, but pretty damn funny for 40 minutes. Here were the best pizza puns of the night:

"Satellite of Love"

"Num num num / Have a bite of crust"

"After Hours"

"If you close the box / The slice is hot forever / If you close the box / You'll eat cold pizza never"

"Stephanie Says" 

"Papa John's says / He'd like to know / Why you've given half your pie / To toppings you hate now"

"Beginning to See the Light"

"I'm beginning to eat the slice / Some people eat very fast / And eat it all in one bite"

"I'm Waiting for the Man"

"I'm waiting for delivery man / 26 dollars in my hand / Comes from Dominos 1,2,3 / More than 30 minutes and that pizza is free"

"These Days"

"I don't do too much toppings, cheese days… I had meat lovers / I don't think I'll risk another, cheese days"

"Walk on the Wild Side"

"Hey babe, take a bite of the wild slice / And the pizza gals say, 'Chew-cha-chew, Chew-cha-chew'"

For our take on the official SXSW tribute to Lou Reed featuring Sean Lennon, the Black Lips, Sharon Needles, Lucinda Williams and more, head here.