Pigeons Playing Ping Pong launched into its 2022 winter tour on Friday night at Brooklyn Bowl Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA. The Baltimore, MD-based quartet treated its Northeast fans to a night of rare covers, newer originals, and one very special four-year bust out.
Following an opening set from Harrisburg, PA jam-rock quintet YAM YAM, Pigeons strutted to the stage and opened with “Henrietta”, a song that loosely references Dwight Schrute‘s porcupine in The Office. Truly showcasing the band’s penchant for high-energy psychedelic funk, “Henrietta” took off for a healthy jam with Jeremy Schon (guitar/backing vocals) at the helm. During the dark instrumental “Offshoot” that followed, frontman Greg Ormont showed off his rhythm guitar skills, creating vast sonic landscapes with a combination of delay, reverb, and wah.
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A newer, unreleased cut, “Steal The Shade”, came next. Bright and upbeat, “Steal The Shade” marked the latest evolution of Pigeons’ sound with the noted inclusion of four-part vocal harmonies. An elongated “Somethin’ For Ya” followed the energetic instrumental “Skipjack”—or as bassist Ben Carrey likes to call it, “Skipjack Battles Zebulon For Domination/Control Of Zebland”—serving as the platform for a new outro jam section that eventually made its way to a cover of Daft Punk‘s “Something About Us”. Initially debuted on December 31st, 2013 at Baltimore’s 8×10 as a mashup with “Dick in a Box”, Pigeons last performed this Daft Punk cut during the group’s Daft Side of The Moon Halloween show at The Anthem in Washington, D.C. (10/29).
The first frame wasn’t done just yet, however. After a blissful “Porcupine”, Schon picked the opening lines to “Whoopie”, a funk-infused mostly-instrumental jam that saves room only for the song’s titular refrain, “whoopie to the funk.” This expansive improv section, driven by Alex “Gator” Petropulos‘ drums and pulsating basslines from Carrey, displayed the chemistry between PPPP and its longtime lighting director, Manny “The Human Lumen” Newman. After painting Pigeons’ shows for the last six-plus years, the adept LD was locked in and triggered the perfect light to match each and every note and tempo change.
Ormont cracked open the second set with one of the oldest tracks in his songbook, “Indiglo”, proclaiming, “we’re on the road again.” Even though live recordings date back as far as 2010, “Indiglo” only recently got the studio treatment. Back on October 22nd Pigeons released the cut as a standalone single featuring ALO‘s Zach Gill on keys. The band didn’t linger here long though, as a stygian, shadowy “Sunny Day” fell into the two-hole. Midway through came a segue to yet another seldomly-played cover, Filter‘s “Take A Picture” [debuted on 5/21/21 at Domefest: Party In The Pods], before returning to “Sunny Day” and slipping into the Pleasure cut, “Fade Fast”.
“The Liquid” then nearly took the roof off Brooklyn Bowl Philly, packing a whole show’s worth of energy into a firey, sub-five-minute excursion. As the room took a few seconds to catch its breath, Carrey made his way across the stage where he engaged in some antics with Schon, besting the guitarist in a quick game of rock, papers, scissors. Before much of the crowd knew what hit them, PPPP was amid its first telling of “On The Rise” since December 29th, 2017 where the band last played the track for its Midwestern fans at Cleveland, OH’s Beachland Ballroom.
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Ormont really torched the building as he led the band into Jimi Hendrix‘s “Fire”, before returning to “On The Rise” and capping the set with a fan-favorite, “Horizon”. With time for one more, Ormont, Carrey, Schon, and Petropulos encored with “Drunk People”, a party-starter that prepped the Brooklyn Bowl for the shenanigans that will ensue on night two.
Check out a setlist and gallery of photos from Jordan August below. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong will return to Brooklyn Bowl Philadelphia tonight, January 15th, for its second and final show. Head to the band’s website for tickets and additional tour information.
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Brooklyn Bowl Philadelphia | Philadelphia, PA | 1/14/20
Set One: Henrietta > Offshoot, Steal The Shade, Skipjack, Somethin’ For Ya* > Something About Us^ > Porcupine, Whoopie
Set Two: Indiglo > Sunny Day > Take A Picture > Sunny Day, Fade Fast, The Liquid, On The Rise > Fire > On The Rise, Horizon
Encore: Drunk People
* w/ New outro jam
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