How do you survive three days of pizza clogging your arteries and mosh pits breaking your bones? I have no idea. Still, people do it every year for King Pizza Records’ Pizzafest.
King Pizza Records is a NYC-based label housing some of the wildest and grittiest metal, garage and punk bands. Label founder Greg Hanson has thrown this festival for five years in the backroom of Brooklyn’s gritty dive-bar/bowling alley The Gutter. It is complete anarchy with a side of NY’s finest ‘za.
This year, Pizzafest featured 22 bands, a DJ and an enthusiastic host running through pizza inspired skits. Pizza proceeds went to Make The Road NY, an organization geared toward helping immigrant families. This festival hit the sweet spots for an all-inclusive fun time that was totally rock ‘n’ roll.
Festival attendees could eat pizza for charity, then mosh off the calories—what more could you ask for?
Eleven bands closed out the last night. Moshers and stage divers were tearing down the place to The Unders when I walked in. I spotted Hanson, the man of the hour, who confessed he didn’t know how he was still alive. But he was not only living, he was thriving, leaping into the crowd like a madman (or like a mad doctor) the second he finished telling me that these past three amazing days probably shaved years off his life.
Three days of raising hell at Pizza Fest had the crowd at a fever pitch. The high spirits were clearly a product of at least 72 hours of wild festivities. I grabbed a beer and tried to get on everyone’s level, but there was just no way I was going to get there. Bodies were flying left and right and I was trying to dodge them like Neo dodging bullets in The Matrix.
My slice of pizza gave me the burst of energy I needed for DAD’s set. These four guys play threatening thrasher punk that you can’t help but knock your body around to in a pit. It wasn’t just audience members getting lifted up to crowd surf; it was also members of the band taking leaps of faith into the pizza-crazed crowd.
Between sets, host Casey Regan stripped away his suit to reveal a red Baywatch-style one-piece swimsuit that read “pizza” in big letters and pair of bikini briefs with a heart-shaped pizza pie on the crotch. After throwing his pants and suit jacket into the crowd, he invited people on stage to join him for a dance to the Village People classic “Y.M.C.A.”
After DAD was The Royal They, a three-piece punk band that seems sweet and innocent until they start melting your face off. They were a crowd favorite; the push to the front of the stage was unavoidable. Almost everyone in the room sang along to lyrics that your mom would probably have to wash your mouth out with soap for—like, “if you fake it ‘til you make it, it doesn’t make you any less of an insufferable cunt” or “you can fuck the world, but you can not fuck me.” And you know what? It’s kind of therapeutic to scream something like that out.
After everyone shouted out all their angst, Sun Voyager took the stage to close out the fest. These guys have played in every Pizzafest ever. What can I say? This hazy group of metalheads knows how to shred. Their psych rock-metal/rock ‘n’ roll combo creates a one-of-a-kind sound that immediately possesses a crowd. It’s like everyone was under Sun Voyager’s spell the second they touched their instruments.
People were begging for more even after Sun Voyager hit their last note. It’s like three days of pizza and music weren’t enough. I only had the end of one day of Pizzafest V and I was already struggling to survive. King Pizza fans must be aliens or something. How the hell did they survive all of Pizzafest? I’ll never know, but damn, they’re punk rock as hell.