Pigeons Playing Ping Pong returned to Brooklyn Bowl Philadelphia on Saturday night for the second half of its two-night stand at the Pennsylvania venue. The Baltimore-based psychedelic funk outfit treated fans to a variety of newer tunes, older fan favorites, and even a sit-in from Star Kitchen keyboardist Rob Marscher.
Before Pigeons took the stage it was the New Jersey-bred quintet Dogs In A Pile that handled opening duties after ElephantProof announced the cancellation of its January dates earlier this month. The 75-minute set showcased the young group’s relentless two-pronged attack from guitarists Jimmy Law and Brian Murray. Four-part harmonies and sensational keys work from Jeremy Kaplan sat atop a reliably solid rhythm section helmed by Joe Babick (drums) and Sam Lucid (bass) as Dogs In A Pile worked through originals like “Rinky Dink Rag” and “Craig & Pat”, as well as some well-timed covers like Stevie Wonder‘s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and The Champs‘ “Tequila”.
As bowling balls continued to knock down pins on the dozen or so lanes, Pigeons took the stage and opened with a buoyant “Fox and Toad”. A more traditional opener, “Time To Ride”, fell in the two-hole and shifted the evening into high gear. Greg Ormont (guitar/vocals) brought a twinkle to our eye with his quirky vocals on this unfinished T2R, which surprised the room by eventually slipping into “Penguins”. Guitarist Jeremy Schon guided “Penguins” off the icy estuary and into the sprawling sea of “Funkijam”, an instrumental often paired with its antarctic seabird brethren. The tsunami of jams kept flowing with “Totally”, a track from the band’s debut Funk E P album that Pigeons only plays a few times a year at most.
Shielded from the bitter cold of a Philly winter night, the sold-out crowd danced away as Pigeons worked through “Move Like That” and “Weightless”, two tracks debuted in 2020. “Fun in Funk”, which usually arrives as a quick, sub-five-minute crowd-pleaser, contained a healthy jam still feeling the effects of the zero-gravity “Weightless”. Driven by a headstrong Ben Carrey bassline, [(Fun)k] found a home in Pink Floyd‘s “Young Lust”, originally debuted on October 29th during Pigeons’ Daft Side of the Moon Halloween run. Ormont then welcomed Philly local and Star Kitchen keyboardist Rob Marscher to the stage for the tenth frame of the first game.
With a synthesizer set up between Ormont and Schon, the now-five-piece collective launched into “Snake Eyes”, for an atypical sit-in. Dark and experimental, Marscher helped elevate this track into metagalactic space after Ormont delivered the opening verse and chorus. Exploring the void above, Schon and Marscher linked line after line while Alex “Gator” Petropulos righted the ship with his dynamic work behind the kit, eventually guiding the band back to the confines of “Snake Eyes” and sending the crowd off into set break.
Showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, the funky four-piece opened with “Skinner”, an instrumental the band initially debuted during its Thursday night second set at The Peach Music Festival (7/1). For the second time in as many sets Pigeons placed a traditional opener in the two-hole, strutting into “Walk Outside” before “My Own Way”—another recently-debuted cut that the group first performed during its two-night run at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY.
A brisk walk turned into an all-out sprint as PPPP worked through the meat of set two, descending into a massive “Kiwi” that probed new territory and yielded one of the night’s highlight jams. Hundreds of feet cut the proverbial rug of the Brooklyn Bowl Philly floor before Schon and company stunned the room by tying up a loose end from set one and finished “Time To Ride”.
This roaring applause break would be the last of the frame as “Undivided” seamlessly joined up with “Schwanthem”, a lengthy instrumental that lifted the room with its endless disco vibes. A detour to Haddaway‘s “What Is Love” had the audience singing along before Pigeons capped its fourth set of the weekend with a return to “Schwanthem”. Cheers lasted through the encore break and compelled the quartet to return for an engaging take on “High As Five”. With opened hands “above our foreheads”, Pigeons sent fans home with no shortage of smiles despite the biting cold that awaited outside.
Check out a gallery of photos and a detailed setlist from the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Brooklyn Bowl Philadelphia closer below. The band will continue its 2022 winter tour on February 10th at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI before circling the U.S. with TAUK and Karina Rykman through March. Head to Pigeons’ website for tickets and a full list of tour dates.
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Brooklyn Bowl Philadelphia | Philadelphia, PA | 1/15/22
Set One: Fox And Toad, Time To Ride* > Penguins > Funkijam > Totally, Move Like That > Weightless > Fun In Funk > Young Lust (Pink Floyd) > Fun In Funk, Snake Eyes^
Set Two: Skinner, Walk Outside, My Own Way, Kiwi* > Time To Ride, Undivided > Schwanthem > What Is Love (Haddaway) > Schwanthem
Encore: High As Five
^ w/ Rob Marscher (Star Kitchen) on keys
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