I'm not a Phoenix guy. I am from the great state of New Jersey, and I have been around the block a little bit, and I must say that Phoenix does weird better. The Pizza Underground came through the Rhythm Room with Har Mar Superstar and Candy Boys on Wednesday night, and their shtick just seems to be worlds behind some of the great Valley-based music/comedy acts.
The Pizza Underground played first, going on 45 minutes later than the advertised start time, and I couldn't help thinking how much more productive that 45 minutes could have been if it were filled by Dinosaur Love, Man-Cat, or Hot Rock Supa Joint (what goes better before pizza than weed?). Hell, they had TKLB? behind the bar; they could have given him some of that dead time. But they didn't.
So The Pizza Underground went on at 8:45 and, after their opening medley, passed out boxes of pizza from Grand Avenue Pizza Company and played "Za Za Za" while the crowd chowed down. Their set was surprisingly entertaining. This is a band that easily could get away with doing very little, but they all actually interacted with the crowd and made a show of it. The best part was probably the fact that they played a pizza box as a percussion instrument.
They even poked fun at themselves when they talked about having smashed their joke (pizza) into powder and then dragging it across the country (on tour). But that aspect seemed to be part of the fun, as they also jokingly did a song cat themed version of Billy Joel's "I'm Moving Out." As well as toilet-inspired Bob Dylan Jokes including song titles like "It Ain't Pee Babe," "Pooping in the Wind" and the like. It was at this point I realized that they were intentionally beating old jokes to death, and that is pretty funny.
The next big gag was the Candy Boys. A male duo who got on stage in tight jeans and halter tops and licked lollipops and sang songs like "how many licks." They were pretty funny, but really came off as a less real The Doyenne. Doyenne could certainly teach the Candy Boys a thing or two.
As they were winding up the set The Pizza Underground gave a shout out to their projectionist, Anchovy Warhol, and that's when I realized Andy Warpigs would have been another fabulous opener for this band, as they played their closing medley including the smash hit, "Take a bite of the wild slice."
Har Mar Superstar came up next and word on the street was this guy is way better live than recorded. I've never heard the recordings but live they seemed like the sum of what would happen if you were to strip all the good parts away from Treasure MammaL and Playboy Manbaby and combine the two. Being weird seemed like something Har Mar had to try to do, while many Phoenician bands just are that way.
Find Critic's Notebook and more photos on next page.
Last Night: The Pizza Underground at The Rhythm Room
Set list: "Medley 1," "Za Za Za," "Nevermound," "Pizza Morning," "Pizza Hours," "Jonathan Richman," "Pizza Rolls," ... Just think of a pizza-themed Velvet Underground greatest hits show.
Overheard in the crowd: "Macaulay!!!!!!!!!"
Miscellaneous: The Pizza Underground does a hell of a show for a group that would not exist if it were not for the Home Alone film franchise.
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