Please Eat Me
An Oral History of the Greasiest Punk Fest That Ever Was
Pizza Fest founders, club owners, and musicians share their cheesiest memories and high hopes for the end of Pizza Fest as we know it.
Brian Costello: Pizza Fest started at a time when it seemed like all these self-important dorks were taking over garage punk. Just standing there watching bands and stroking their chins instead of going out and having fun. A bunch of us kind of simultaneously decided that we'd had enough and just wanted to celebrate things like pizza and having a fucking great time.
Lacey Swain: The Coconut Coolouts had songs about pizza, partying, and other shit, and we were touring with Personal & the Pizzas. So right in the beginning of this pizza zeitgeist thing, someone from Chicago, who I think also had a few songs about pizza, set up this show and called it Pizza Fest—it was a real good time.
Rich Evans: Pizza Fest started because a bunch of middle-aged jerks decided it was cool to sing songs about pizza.
Brian C.: The first one was in Chicago. The Yolks, Coconut Coolouts, Johnny and the Limelites, Personal & the Pizzas, and Tyvek played. The problem was that the venue's restaurant "chef" was too froufrou to put pizza on the menu. I had to sneak in grocery-store pizzas in a drum case. By the end, I think I spent about $400 on pizza, and it still wasn't enough.
Ruben Mendez: The Chicago club was run by real douchebags. They cut Tyvek off after their third song. The following year, we decided that we'd do Pizza Fest in Seattle.
Lacey: We knew right away that it would be at the Funhouse, so when we had a plan, we went directly to Brian Foss. He was totally in.
Brian Foss: The first Seattle Pizza Fest was a damn pleasure.
Rich: My band Slippery Slopes played the first Seattle one. We filled a piñata with pizza sauce and tried to ruin everyone's good time. Someone threw our only set of car keys in the dumpster behind the Funhouse.
Karolyn Kukoski: Witch Gardens played last year. I immediately got rear-ended on the way to the Funhouse, which was officially the fourth car accident we've had on the way to a show. I got there 10 minutes before we played and had whiplash, but besides that, the Pizza Fest experience was awesome!
Shannon Shaw: Shannon and the Clams' first Pizza Fest didn't actually include very much pizza. I thought there would be dogs dressed up like pizzas, a pepperoni chorus in between bands, guitar strings replaced by string cheese... things like that. There were classy slices instead. And extremely great bands! I am so excited for this year! I think I will make pizza shoes.
Lacey: We had such a great time last year, we had Shannon Perry come over after-party style on the last night to give us Pizza Fest tattoos.
Shannon Perry: Ruben and Lacey convinced me to come to their house after the fest and tattoo people in their kitchen. I didn't know what I was doing, so a handful of people ended up with some gnarly tats. The best one for sure was Ruben's "REST IN PIZZA" gravestone.
Lacey: My worst Pizza Fest memory is Mean Jeans stealing our Ambien. It was either them or Personal & the Pizzas, but the Pizzas don't seem like Ambien partyers to me.
Pete Capponi: One year, I opened the back bathroom at the Funhouse and the toilet was overflowing, puke everywhere, even the walls! Rich Evans was just standing there going, "Look what happened!"
Ruben: We accidentally scheduled it on the same day as Seafair once. Streets were blocked and bands couldn't get to the Funhouse and those darn pirates were all up in everyone's business while we were trying to set up equipment.
Shannon P.: The pizza-eating contest is a weird vibe. The dudes get heated and serious about eating a pizza as fast as they can. It's definitely an American competition.
Karolyn: It was disgusting! This nasty Pizza King came out shirtless with a purple king's robe and crown. Travis Ritter was battling him, wearing skintight shiny lamé. Everyone was screaming and chanting. They looked like baby birds trying to swallow whole slices. It seriously looked like they were going to die!
Owen Straw: When they announced the pizza-eating contest, I knew I would win. I entered right away and commenced training, which consisted of eating more pizza than usual and not feeling guilty about it. I probably gained 12 pounds.
Travis Ritter: I have lost by a crust to Owen Straw—a water-stealing, crust-discarding weasel—two years in a row, and I'm only half his size. We were neck and neck until he took the last cup of water left in front of me, so I had to swallow down those final big bites dry. After the upset, when Owen was crowned, I saw pieces of crust and cheese bits below the bench where he stood. That's not winning.
Owen: Coming out victorious made it all worthwhile—and seeing the cheese-stained looks of shame on the losers' faces.
Karolyn: Watching people shove entire pizzas in their faces while listening to my favorite bands. It's the only thing like it in Seattle!
Ruben: The bands need to be fun, underexposed, and have a funny name. King Lollipop, the Biz, Girl Dracula, the Yolks, King Tuff, Coconut Coolouts, Wimps, Shannon and the Clams, Tacocat, Stickers, Maxines, Teenage Burritos, and Kepi Ghoulie to name a few. So we are doing great. I am looking forward to HEAD, and Ketamines! The White Wires are playing, and we are stoked on that, too.
Pete: Rock, punk, garage—it's really just about getting a rad mix of fun bands together. We've had Peach Kelli Pop, Rayon Beach, Dizzy Eyes, Slutever, LoVe TaN, Fungi Girls, Butts, Indian Wars, Cowabunga Babes. We only pick the choicest groups.
Shannon P.: My old band Butts played a couple years back, and I can't remember anything about it. Or maybe we didn't play it. But I'm pretty sure we did, and that it was really fun. Maybe that's why I can't remember it.
Ruben: If I have to pick one band that encompasses it all, it would have to be Personal & the Pizzas. They have pizza in their name and have played all of the fests. Even if the backup band has changed each year... different toppings, same crust.
Brian F.: I love Personal & the Pizzas. Having them play every year is always the highlight to me.
Brian C.: When Personal & the Pizzas stayed with us, they left hair-grease stains on the pillow. Oof, Madon!
Pete: Personal & the Pizzas played "Wooly Bully" for half an hour last year.
Ruben: Pizza is like sex, drugs, and rock and roll—even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. Yeah, I just said that. Pizza is for the people. It's for the youth. My dad hates pizza. My dad is nice, but he's not cool.
Brian F.: It's the top and the bottom of the food triangle. An open canvas for whatever you can imagine. Pizza is Zen. Pizza is thug.
Rich: What's so important about pizza? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Karolyn: Before I moved to Seattle, I had been vegan for three years and broke it for a pesto slice within a week of living here and never looked back.
Lacey: Pizza just is, like, perfect. Obviously, you know? But honestly, I'm done talking about it.
Brian F.: The Funhouse is closing after our last show on Halloween night, so no more Pizza Fests at the Funhouse. The building is getting torn down so they can build condos, since there's a total lack of new mixed-use buildings in Seattle and there are way too many 70-year-old bars that host punk rock shows.
Shannon C.: Is that true? Nobody tells me anything! Brian is the sweetest dude around. I hope he gets a golden castle in exchange for the Funhouse. Why would Pizza Fest ever end? It'll go on forever in our hearts.
Ruben: Four years is a pretty good run, but we have graduated from Pizza Fest. That and the Funhouse will be moving because some assholes want to build more ugly living spaces for salad-eating jerks. Oh, and because Pete tries to add extra Sunday "Hot Dog Roasts" to the bill because, off the record, he doesn't like pizza. That's really why Pizza Fest is ending.
Pete: Why is this the last one? I don't really know.
Lacey: It's time for some other town to host this shit. I really hope someone does. I'll totally go.
Ruben: Look for a Pizza Fest 2014 reunion boat cruise to Italy sponsored by Block Party, Prince, Pizza Hut, and Toyota.
Rich: This is the last one because these people have finally GROWN THE FUCK UP!
Brian C.: Wait, this is the last one?!
Brian Costello started Pizza Fest and plays in the Biz. Ruben Mendez, Pete Capponi, and Lacey Swain brought Pizza Fest to Seattle and play in Coconut Coolouts when they feel like it. Rich Evans founded Florida Is Dying Records and Total Punk Records and plays in Golden Pelicans. Brian Foss owns the Funhouse and should receive a golden castle in exchange for its upcoming demise. Karolyn Kukoski plays in Witch Gardens. Shannon Shaw puts the “Shannon” in Shannon and the Clams. Shannon Perry gives great tattoos and played in Butts. Owen Straw always wins the pizza-eating contest. Travis Ritter always almost wins the pizza-eating contest.