Over the weekend, the funk-jammers of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong were in the Northeast, finishing out a four-night run that took the Baltimore-based band to Providence, Rhode Island, and Burlington, Vermont, ahead of a two-night stand at Portland, Maine’s Port City Music Hall. After a standout and sold-out first show at Port City Music Hall on Saturday night, Pigeons returned to the yet-again sold-out Portland venue and proved the age-old adage, “Never Miss A Sunday Show”, on Sunday night.

Coming off a fiery show the previous night and without any opening support, Pigeons blew through their first set, opening up the show first with two well-segued songs off 2016’s Pleasure, “Burning Up My Time” and “Pop Off”. After Psychology favorite “Melting Lights” and a take on “Offshoot”, the band launched into a high-octane string of songs to close out set one. Early fan-favorite “Stay” was used to house a standout cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”, followed by takes on “Kiwi” and “Fortress”. Ending the first set with a bang, Pigeons offered up a rendition of “Doc”, off the group’s most recent studio album, Pizazz.

However, the pinnacle of Pigeons’ Sunday performance was their historic second set, which saw the band lay out an hourlong, single-song set built around the band’s early classic, “Funk E. Zekiel”. With a focus on extending and pushing the limits of the jam, throughout their out-of-left-field jam, the band built off “Funk E. Zekiel”, eventually segueing the tune to jam on the triumphant theme song from Chariots of Fire.

Thankfully, the entire mind-blowing performance from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is now available on nugs.net. Head here to listen to the extended, one-song second set. You can also check out a full gallery of Sunday night’s performance below, courtesy of Vic Brazen.

Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Port City Music Hall | Portland, ME | 4/15/2018 
Set One: Burning Up My Time > Pop Off, Melting Lights > Offshoot, Stay > Come As You Are* > Stay > Kiwi > Fortress, Doc
Set Two: Funk E Zekiel +
Encore: Somethin’ For Ya > Havana > Fun In Funk
Notes: * Nirvana cover | + 63 minute version, with Chariots of Fire tease

Already, word of Pigeon’s Sunday performance has begun circulating on social media and message forums, given the fact that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s one-song second set was unprecedented. However, while Sunday’s second set might have been a deviation from the group’s norms, the set falls in line with a long history of jam bands testing their limits of how far they can stretch a jam. Realistically, for decades, young and energetic jam bands have been challenging themselves to stretch single-song performances for as long as they can.

For example, during Phish’s 1997 Fall Tour, the group laid out a 59+ minute “Runaway Jim” at the Worcester Centrum Centre on November 29th. This legendary “Runaway Jim” marks the longest jam Phish has ever played from a specific song—excluding solely jam-oriented performances like the late-night disco set at The Great Went, the Tower Jam at IT, Ball Square Jam at Super Ball IX, or the Drive-In set at Magnaball.

In terms of one-song sets, Benevento/Russo Duo featuring Mike Gordon previously executed a one-song first set in 2005 during a performance at The Georgia Theatre on April 27th, 2005. Ringing in at 54-minutes, the trio built off the tune “Foam”, offering up a plethora of well-worked teases as the jam unfolded.

These examples are just prominent ones that stand out, though a number of other jam bands have taken on the challenge to push themselves to jam songs for long periods of time. The Disco Biscuits “Movie Jams” from fall 2001 saw the band improvising their own scores for various movies, making for some unique and lengthy improvisations. Slightly before that fall run, in 1999, for the Biscuits’ famed Akira New Years Eve jam, the group improvised a set for an hour and 45 minutes.

Even more recently, with slightly newer bands, the challenge to stretch improvisations has continued to draw certain artists in. One of Pigeons’ contemporaries, Spafford, has gained fame for frequently stretching songs to their limit, with multiple instances of one or two song sets under their belt. Going back a little further, Dopapod has previously released a 56-minute cover of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”, and Reed Mathis & Electric Beethoven have released a live re-imagining of the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 titled “In Memory Of A Great Man” that rings in at 50-minutes.

So, let’s remember that while it might be fun to immediately compare artists, historically, taking on this challenge has inherently been a hallmark of a successful and dynamic group in its own right, with a long line of past artists similarly pushing themselves to take their improvisational abilities to their limits. Regardless, we’re super psyched to see Pigeons enter this new territory in their career, which will inevitably be talked about for years to come, and to see how they continue to push themselves to grow and evolve. Cheers Pigeons, and mad respect!