Punks Play at Pizza Place

Zoe Jensen


I had never seen that many leather jackets in a pizza place at once. There was a four-bill lineup punk show at South Whitney Pizza last month, and I didn't know how they'd be able to pack thrashing bands into a space hardly able to seat an elementary school soccer team. Nonetheless, studded jackets and billowing mullets brushed against servers shepherding hot slices through the packed Hartford dive bar on a chilly February night. This is the CT scene at its finest: real estate vultures want to eat up our venues? Fuck y'all, we will mosh next to the cheese fries. We will stand on booths to catch Killer Kin's set. We will pack the parking lots to taste freedom, music, and sweat. Capitalism may have a death grip on culture, but we will gasp our sweet breaths 'til the end.

This was a special show for many reasons. Not only was it the largest punk lineup at the restaurant, but this particular dive was the regular post-show stop for people after visiting The Whitney House, a punk DIY venue that used to be across the street. From 2008 to about 2018, the house was home to crust punks, many of whom came out six years post-Whitney House to thrash and play at South Whitney Pizza. Before screaming into the mic, the singer of Chem-Trails versed poetically about The Whitney House, then shouted out his daughter who was in the audience.

Allie Tracz, the lead singer of FAFA and second up that night, was also a part of the Whitney House. "This show is monumental to a lot of people here. You have old heads that are showing up out of the woodwork." The last time there was a homecoming like this was at a reunion show for the CT 90's band Piss, whose band logo she had tattooed on her leg. "It was like a high school reunion. Everyone was there who passed out on your couch, peed on your couch." A resurgence in the punk scene is critical to people like her. "Punk has literally and figuratively saved my life multiple times."

Killer Kin was the headliner, with their glam-punk screaming, table jumping, audience charming, guitar thrashing classics for people who would all kill for the kin. Singer Mattie Lee said this was one of the weirder places he’s played, “But nothing’s as strange as the Crunch House, even though that’s kind of normal.”

The Minor Inconveniences' Zach Fontanez organized the show. "My friend Chloe from the Cumrats was working at South Whitney Pizza as a bartender, and one day, she posted an Instagram story about an altercation. Somebody ripped the jukebox off the wall and threw something through the window. So, as a joke, I said, 'Next punk show at South Whitney Pizza?' She said the owner had actually been looking to book shows, and now we're here.

Once you walked into South Whitney Pizza, a counter was ready to take orders for pizza and Indian food, with the “stage” against the far wall, backdropped by a TV asking you to move the mouse. A small room to the right housed the bar, fit with a pool table, high tops, and a jukebox now fastened tightly to the wall.

The crowd packed into every inch we could, along with a mosh pit made up of everyone from seasoned thrashers to younger punks. Stragglers who came in just to order a slice were wide-eyed at the scene. The owners would pop out from the counter once in a while to fold their arms and smile at the joy they helped create and nourish.

After the show, everyone seemed to laugh at what we had all communally experienced. An epic punk show, fitted in a pizza place with all the accouterments one gets with basement venues, albeit not too X-rated for the family friendly establishment. It proved that the CT scene not only makes due with what we got, but thrives in it. Plus, pizza goes great with punk.