Last night, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong reminded us to never miss a Sunday show, especially when it’s an intimate, 200-person VIPPPP show at Denver’s Globe Hall following sold-out shows at the Ogden Theatre. PPPP isn’t new to the intimate Mile High City venue, having played a last-minute show in May 2017 after their Red Rocks show with moe. got postponed. This time was different.
Unlike Friday and Saturday night’s sold-out shows at the much-larger Ogden Theatre with lespecial and Yak Attack, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s Sunday evening engagement included a meet-and-greet mixer at the hole-in-the-wall, 100-year old venue nestled in North Denver. Nearly 200 VIPPPP Flockers arrived at 7 p.m. for an hour-long happy hour with Greg Ormont, Alex Petropulos, Ben Carrey, Jeremy Schon, and Manny Newman taking photos and catching up with the guys as they continue on their nationwide touring journey.
Starting up at 8:30 p.m., the band took to the smaller-than-usual stage feeling warm and fuzzy and jumped into the wavy tune, “Ocean Flows”. Carrey fashioned the top of his bass guitar neck with his porcupine puppet pet, and took the low end to even lower depths as he lead the group into “Condenser”.
The band cooked up some chicken parmesan next with “Landing”, and transitioned right into the slow, edgy “White Night”. The unfinished take led the bunch into a progressive jam which slipped into a cover of the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running”, Schon in full-fledged rock mode as Ormont led the ending of the song to a soulful vocal conclusion. Next, the band went into their funk instrumental, “Totally”. Ormont added “coo”s to the upbeat melody break before Carrey whipped out his slide whistle for a short intro into an extended jam on “Skipjack”.
The venue was radiating with unmatched energy from the VIPPPP fans as the band moved into the debut of a new original song, “Lowdown”. Schon started into the upbeat tune as Ormont sang the verses:
“This is the lowdown
Just want to keep it friendly
Cause I don’t want to fight
So try not to offend me
A basic throwdown
Don’t wanna get too gnarly
Cause I don’t wanna fight
So don’t enlist my army”
Schon and Carrey added backing vocals on the first take of the chorus over the light and bouncy melody, getting the Flock more excited for their announced forthcoming album, Presto, at the top of the decade. A funky “Whoopie” marked the ending of the first night’s set, giving fans one more chance to ruffle their tail feathers before setbreak.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong returned to the stage for set two primed and ready to get weird. Petropulos got things started by launching them into jam vehicle “Funk E Zekiel”, and Ormont indeed succeeded in getting weird with it, adding some flubbering improv vocals to the melody.
Lighting designer Manny Newman showed off the powers of his rig on “Fade Fast”, sending the venue off into the flashing sonic realms of space. A Flocker in the crowd provoked the band to make their best “water dripping” noise before they went into the looping instrumental, “Whirled”, before moving into “F.U.” Pigeons welcomed Envy Alo saxophonist Kevin Supina onstage for added jazzy grooves during “F.U.”, as Schon took the groovy song into the astral plains before hopping into the long-awaited return of “Indiglo”. Ormont took a fun spin on their usual lyrics, switching it up as a nod to the fan-sung “we’re on the toad again.”
“Pop Off” popped off next before the night’s grand finale arrived with a striking “Lightning” sequence. Ormont sang the first verse of “Lightning” before Schon cut up the melody with help from Petropulos who broke down the beat to smoothly strut into “Moonwalk”. “Zydeko” flowed in from there, and as if it couldn’t get any better, the psychedelic jam found its way back into “Lightning” giving Flockers an old-school Pigeons melody sequence to finish the special night.
After returning for their encore, the guys took requests from the intimate from the crowd. First, they landed on rarely played Brazilian Girls cover, “Pussy Pussy Pussy Marijuana”, marking the first performance of the comical song since the band’s 2018 4/20 celebration at Charleston Pour House in 2018. Being in Colorado, it was only fair to keep up the green-friendly vibe, and the guys ended with a smokey “Cliffs” to complete their three-night Denver run.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s lengthy fall tour continues on Wednesday, November 20th at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, AR. For a full list of tour dates, visit the band’s website.
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Globe Hall | Denver, CO | 11/17/2019
Set One: Ocean Flows, Condenser, Landing > White Night > Long Train Running, Totally, Skipjack, Lowdown, Whoopie
Set Two: Funk E Zekiel, Fade Fast, Whirled > F.U.%, Indiglo, Pop Off, Lightning > Moonwalk > Zydeko > Lightning
Encore: Pussy, Cliffs
% with Kevin Supina (Envy Alo)