Pizza Party is back!  The Syracuse-based band is home from a semester abroad in London and played a killer show at the Spark Contemporary Art Space.  Could this mark the start of British Invasion part two?

The show started off with The Wisconaut, a musical project created by Andrew Idarraga, a freshman in the Bandier Program.  He recruited his buds Gavin Blasier, Scott Sweitzer, and Terrin Munawet to back him up for the night, but Idarraga did all of the songwriting.  He says he wrote the songs when he was missing home at school, but it’s ultimately helped him find a home here at SU.  Their energetic indie rocks jams got the crowd warmed up for Pizza Party.

Pizza Party is also closely linked with the Bandier Program as all four guys are juniors in the program.  They opened their set with their original song “Lucy,” which features some sweet melodic call and response lines between Will Taggart’s lead guitar and Jesse Katzenstein’s alto saxophone. They also showcased a couple new sweet originals: “Can’t Wait, Give It A Minute,” and “The Fire.” They premiered another original “Lies! You Told Me” last spring, but performing it live this weekend elicited an insane response from the crowd when the song transitioned from the slower ballad section into the up-tempo section.  Almost everyone in the middle of the floor was moshing and dancing along.

The band knows how to pick classic covers, and knows how to do them well. When they broke into The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” everyone in the audience was singing along. Same with their cover of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out.”  During the iconic instrumental break in “Take Me Out,” one couldn’t help but jump in time.  They know how to engage the audience and concerts that are participatory are incredibly more enjoyable.   Will Taggart took over lead vocals on Mac DeMarco’s “Salad Days.” Such a cool song and even cooler to hear his rendition.  Oh, and the band also covered Kanye.  Will Skalmoski took a shift from clean rock vocals and rapped “New Slaves.”  The crowd went wild over that.

Aside from being more cultured from their international experience, the band is much tighter than before.  It’s clear they’ve spent a lot of time refining their individual skills and their collaborative skills as a band. Skalmoski killed it on lead vocals throughout the night with perfect intonation.  Drummer Eric Zidar nailed his fills and kept the energy grooving throughout the night.  Taggart unsurprisingly tore it up on electric guitar with wicked solos.  And Katzenstein broadened the band’s sound with his stellar sax playing.  The band demonstrated their versatility as Will, Will, and Jesse rotated between guitars and bass throughout the set.

Something about this show inspired a new kind of energy that’s not usually characteristic of a show at Spark.  Almost every song became a mosh song, and no one had their feet still at any point during the show.  The awesome vibes in part stemmed from the fact that the guys definitely weren’t afraid to branch out and have fun.  They each took opportunities to hop up on the wooden boxes in front of the performance space and jam out.  They’re much more comfortable on stage and confident in their repertoire.

Pizza Party kicked off the semester right and certainly has a bright future ahead.

  • Katie Canete

    Photo Credit: Gabby Jones! Thank you!