In the wake of continuing New Year’s Eve concert cancellations, a lucky few gathered at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC to actually see a headlining band perform in the lead-up to the ball drop as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong took the stage on Thursday. The high-flying bird band staged the first show of its two-night Arena 54 NYE run, set to close tonight, December 31st at the ExploreAsheville.com Arena downtown.
“Scrambled” Greg Ormont kicked things off with an eerily optimistic “Feelin’ Fine”, that began fostering a sense of musical security, dulling the fears of the outside world if only for a few hours. The show rolled on with “Bad For You” as drummer Alex “Gator” Petropulos dominated the first frame, leading the band through a funk breakdown of the Pleasure track.
Greg made us all the queens inside his “Fortress” next, as Jeremy Schon—sporting a Dee Gees Hail Satin shirt in a telling sign of things to come for the disco-themed run—took the reigns on a short-but-sweet “Melting Lights” that wound about the instrumental “Twitch”. The primordial ooze of “Landing” came next, ultimately paired up with “Also Sprach Zarathrusta” for the first interstellar-themed cover of the run. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong then segued into the recently debuted “Donkey Hotel”, establishing another running mantra of showcasing the band’s newer compositions, to finish the first set.
The palm-muted echoed riff of “Porcupine” signaled the start of set two as Ben Carrey submerged the crowd deep in the low end. There is a sensation at shows of that “worth it” jam where all the traveling, money, time, and effort you put into making it to the show becomes completely worth it. Though living just around the block from the venue makes that journey slightly less arduous, that “worth it” jam nevertheless came during “Porcupine”.
Mr. Carrey held the floor for another recent composition, “Hit the Ground Runnin'”, where the bassist got to flex his vocal muscles. Shock and awe soon spread through the crowd as Jeremy began the enchanting introduction to “Horizon”, taking one of the band’s most coveted songs off the board before New Year’s Eve. Even this far into an already storied career, Pigeons still has the ability to shock longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Michael Jackson‘s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” came next as just the second cover of the evening for the first of two Arena 54-themed shows. The expansive jam that followed the Off The Wall track traveled through a variety of moods all the way to headbanging before ultimately returning to the disco magnificence. The instrumental “Avalanche” came next as PPPP displayed its inherent ability to transform whatever venue it inhabits into a hopping dance club. With time on the board for one more, Pigeons opted for the oldie-but-a-goodie “Upfunk” to wrap the second frame.
Returning to The Orange Peel one last time for 2021, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong performed “Day In Time”. This marked the fourth song of the evening debuted in 2021 as the band continued to show off its burgeoning catalog.
Check out full show video of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC. The band’s Arena 54 NYE run wraps tonight, December 31st, at the ExploreAsheville.com Arena. Stream the show for free via the band’s YouTube channel.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC – 12/30/21
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | The Orange Peel | Asheville, NC | 12/30/21
Set One: Feelin’ Fine, Bad For You, Fortress > Melting Lights > Twitch, Landing > Also Sprach Zarathusta (Eumir Deodato) > Donkey Hotel
Set Two: Porcupine, Hit the Ground Rinnin’ > Horizon, Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough (Michael Jackson) > Avalanche, Upfunk
Encore: Day In Time