There are pizza parties, and then there’s Pizzafest. To celebrate a triple tape release (yes, cassette tapes are coming back) for Coach N Commando, LUMPS and Heavy Flow, King Pizza Records is throwing its third annual Pizzafest next weekend: a festival full of rock n roll, cheap beer, and of course, a ton of pizza.
We chatted with King Pizza Records’ founder Greg Hanson to find out more details about the fest, his favorite pizza places, and more importantly, what exactly “pizzafisting is.” The record label and festival started as places for punky, grungy and garagey musical outcasts who didn’t feel “comfortable” trying to get in on other scenes so started their own, Hanson said. Highlights of the fest include pizza temporary tattoos, a sleeve-cutting station to get you ready for summer, pizza caricatures, custom artwork on display, Sixpoint beer and enough pizza that “you won’t leave searching for more slices.” For a full list of bands, and to purchase tickets, you can check out the event’s Facebook page; all the shows are $10 and under.
How was Pizzafest born?
We started Pizzafest in the same way we started King Pizza. We had a bunch of killer bands that didn’t feel like they fit into any part of the scene here, so we created our own corner and it only seemed fitting that we create our own festival to showcase all the talent and energy.
New York has a lot of great festivals that highlight all the different wonderful strata of bands but we weren’t part of that — rather than try and insert ourselves into someone else’s scene where we didn’t feel comfortable, we banded together to create something meaningful for us. Pizzafest I was the label’s coming out party and continues to be the biggest event of our pizza-centric calendar year.
What’s the vibe like?
We try to keep Pizzafest wild and fun. We want to create safe spaces for everyone and have an inclusive show space, not only for the bands but for the show-goers, artists, weirdos, punks, rock n rollers, et al. We have been told that our events aren’t stodgy, stuck up, pretentious or stale, and we like to keep it that way. We have a shitload of amazing bands that play high-energy rock n roll so you got a lot of people dancing, drinking, hugging, drawing, crowd-surfing. It’s a big weekend-long party.
How pizzafest-y is Pizzafest? Is there pizza at every show?
Pizza is the main tenet of King Pizza and Pizzafest. There’s plenty of pizza at every show. This isn’t a food festival — don’t come here expecting tons of varieties, tastings — this is a big ass pizza party. We have beer, bands, pizza. Plus some other weird shit. But yes, you won’t leave in search of more slices, we surely hold it down on that front.
Festivals are a great way to cram a lot of party into not a lot of time. Pizzafest is about bringing together awesome people for a couple nights of raging rock n roll madness. We stack the shows with locals who know how to boogie, touring bands who play their faces off, and enough pizza and booze for even the strongest of guts. If you come, you will see no filler.
What have been your favorite moments out of the three years of the fest so far?
Last year, at the end of the last night, our pals Sun Voyager presented me a pair of pizza socks and started to chant my name, which the whole audience took up and, I believe, I was lifted up and crowd-surfed. Not too long after that, I got iced with a 22 of Smirnoff while I tried to count money to pay out the bands. That was less fun but just as memorable.
My most vivid memory was the first day of year one, standing behind everyone and taking in a packed room full of close friends and soon-to-be close friends, dancing, cheering, and having fun. I can’t forget feeling wonderful that everyone was there together. That’s probably the one that’ll stick with me longest.
As an expert in pizza-related matters, what’s your pick for the best pizza in Brooklyn?
Hard to say. Vinnie’s makes all manner of amazing slices, as does Williamsburg Pizza. In my corner of the world, Gino’s on Myrtle tastes like pizza I grew up with on Long Island, while Ganni’s is open till 5am so that might make them the best? Archie’s in Bushwick and Evil Olive are go-tos. More importantly, who cares who’s best? Why not eat em all?
What do you top your pizza with?
A cheese slice is usually my go-to and you add a little oregano and parm and things are feeling good. If I’m feeling saucy (100 percent pun intended), I go for a hunkin’ grandma slice. Anything with fresh mozzarella and big chunks of tomato is high religion in my book.
Most importantly – what is the proper definition for the term “pizzafisting”?
1. The third Pizzafest.
2. A crazy party with a room full of awesome people willing to indoctrinate you into a secret society of awesomeness.
1. To throw your hands up, slice stuffed in mitt, screaming before you scarf the sucker down.
Pizzafest/Pizzafist goes down June 23-25 at three locations in Bushwick/East Williamsburg; get advance tix here. The pizza at the shows isn’t free but it won’t be sold on a markup either, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to chow down.
Lea Faminiano likes her pizza topped with ziti; find out more about what she likes on Twitter.