Pigeons Playing Ping Pong rounded out their West Coast run over the first weekend in October, including return shows to both San Francisco and Santa Cruz, Saturday, October 6, and Monday, October 8. After three nights in SoCal, including a two-night run at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, PPPP wrap their California run on Wednesday night in Arcata.
Check out this video of the band debuting their cover of “New Light”, the latest single from John Mayer, in the Teragram Ballroom:
[Video: Must Have Media]
After two sold-out shows within eight months of each other at The Independent in San Francisco in 2017, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong have quickly risen rank as a favorite act to catch in the Bay Area. The upgrade to The Regency afforded the band three times as many seats available, serving as an unofficial late-night to the city’s free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco showed up for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. Adding to the crowd’s intense energy were two surprise sit-ins by a few hometown heroes from Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) and Hot Buttered Rum in set one and two, respectively.
The first set opened with a trio of P4 favorites. “Upfunk”, “Something For Ya”, and “Porcupine” before inviting out the first guest of the evening, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz from ALO. Lebo joined the stage for over fifteen minutes and two songs. After getting loose with the P4 original “Julia”, the band quickly transitioned into a familiar melody as lead singer Greg Ormont began singing the ALO original, “Living in a Plastic Bubble.”
Lebo and P4 lead guitarist Jeremy Schon traded licks back and forth throughout the following jam section. An island-hopping whirlwind of energy between the guitarists even brought bassist Ben Carey into the middle of the stage before wrapping up “Julia”.
Watch officially released pro-shot footage of the whole song here:
[Video: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong]
As if the entire show was going exactly to plan, the band next launched into “Whirled” before popping into “Poseidon”. The first set ended with “Funk in Funk” around 11:45 pm. Prior to the show, fans speculated on whether it would be a two-set show or not, but halfway through the set Ormont confirmed there will indeed be a second set.
By 12:10, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong were back on stage with a tie-dye costume change. It couldn’t have been more obvious that this next set was going to get explorative. It began with “Walk Outside” before “Melting Lights” turned into “The Liquid.” The light design for these opening segments was of superb quality and absolutely added to the power of the band.
“The Liquid” filled the cup of the Regency Ballroom until it was “Overrun” with gratitude and joy. “Overrun” is a brand new song, debuted only days before and during the two night run in Los Angeles. Watch an officially released pro-shot cut of the song here:
[Video: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong]
Following the new track, the band launched into Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”, a track that they also played during their SF debut in 2017. This wasn’t a typical “Psycho Killer”. Before the song was finished, the band eventually segued into “Say Cheese,” an original love song to cheese from Ormont’s side project, Scrambled Greg. By the time they finished “Psycho Killer”, Ormont was cheesing up the lyrics.
As the crowd and band took a moment to breathe, Hot Buttered Rum’s singer/guitarist Nat Keefe strolled out on stage. Earlier in the day, Hot Buttered Rum headlined a craft beer and bluegrass music festival in Felton, CA, and Keefe still had the energy to haul himself to the second set of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong to sit in on the track, “Fortress”.
The lights got dark, and once again Schon and the guest guitarist traded licks. Keefe also made sure to interact with drummer Alex Petropulos as well as Carey and Ormont, grooving with all of the parts of the song and diving deep into the moment. Once Keefe exited, the band ended the set with the track “Couldn’t We All”. With a standout two set performance like they had just delivered, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong had one more card up their sleeve. After releasing the debut video from the band’s DisNYE New Year’s Eve show encore, they returned with the same segment: “Zydeko” > “Tale As Old As Time” > Zydeko”. Yes, as in the from The Beauty and The Beast.
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Regency Ballroom | San Francisco, CA | 10/6/2018
Set One: Upfunk, Somethin’ For Ya, Porcupine, Julia1 > Plastic Bubble1,2 > Julia1, Whirled, Poseidon, Fun In Funk
Set Two: Walk Outside, Melting Lights > The Liquid, Overrun, Psycho Killer3 > Say Cheese4, Fortress5, Couldn’t We All
Encore: Zydeko > Tale as old as time > Zydeko
Notes: 1 – featuring Dan LEBO Lebowitz of ALO; 2 – cover debut, ALO; 3 – cover, Talking Heads; 4 – cover, Scrambled Greg; 5 – featuring Nat Keefe of Hot Buttered Rum
The band took one day off on Sunday to enjoy Hardly Strictly Bluegrass before heading to Santa Cruz for a single set extravaganza on Monday in the main room at The Catalyst Club. In October of 2017, a full year prior, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong performed in the front room, The Catalyst Atrium, and sold out the intimate venue with force. This time around, they did not fill out the main room (it was a Monday night) but the room was far from empty.
The show kicked off with “Too Long” and “Burning Up My Time” before segueing into the jubilant original “Horizon” about the band going to see Lotus play. “Fade Fast” gave way to the standout of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”, an ultimate highlight from the show. Following the Pink Floyd cover, the band busted into “King Kong”. Eventually, everyone sat back and let Petropulos drive for a thrilling drums segment before finishing the tune. A triple segue struck some of the strangest and most explorative sounds of the evening as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong flew through a “Sunny Day” > “The Hop” > “F.U.” combination, ending the set with “Dawn A New Day”. Last year in San Francisco, the band debuted “Dawn A New Day” during the release party for their fourth studio effort, Pizazz.
For the encore, P4 didn’t let Santa Cruz go without squeezing every last drop of funk out of the crowd. They opened with a “Skipjack” > “Paint It Black” > “Skipjack” sandwich before unleashing a tidal wave of energy within “Ocean Flows” to cap the evening.
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | The Catalyst | Santa Cruz, CA | 10/8/2018
Set: Too Long, Burning Up My Time > Horizon, Fade Fast, Pigs1, King Kong > drums > King Kong, Sunny Day > The Hop > F.U., Dawn a New Day
Encore: Skipjack > Paint It Black2 > Skipjack, Ocean Flows
Notes: 1 – cover, Pink Floyd; 2 – cover, The Rolling Stones