Baltimore-based funk machines Pigeons Playing Ping Pong captivated the Varsity Theater on Saturday night. Touring like there is no tomorrow, the Pigeons are on the road to Red Rocks, and will be at legendary amphitheater on May 2nd. After that they are pretty much all over the USA for the rest of the summer. They played to a sold-out house of dedicated Twin Cities jam fans Saturday night.
Pigeons came on stage to a thunderous roar from the “Flock”, as their fans are affectionately known. Guitarist/singer Greg Ormont immediately revealed a beaming smile at the adulation. The quartet opened with “Porcupine” off the Pizzazz album and the crowd started moving and grooving like a single Dead dancer. Loose, grooving funk jams enveloped the packed room. These guys really do put the fun in funk.
Guitarist Jeremy Shon layers notes like shades of color on an abstract painting. Warm pastels transform to saturated primaries and exploded off the fretboard. The real funk foundation of the band is laid down by expertly by drummer Alex Petropulos and bassist Ben Carrey. They kicked the energy level into the stratosphere.
The fifth member of the band, who wasn’t on stage, was lighting designer Manny Newman. The light show integrated seamlessly with the music. At times it appeared that the music had form and was washing over the theater in multi-hued waves. Extract faces could be seen among the melting vibrant blush of luminance.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong are ascending the ladder of improvisational musicianship, and it won’t be long before these boys are mentioned with the great jam bands of the land.
Setlist: Porcupine – Julia – Bad For You – The Liquid – Drunk People – Doc – Upfunk – Sunny Day > The Hop > F. U.
Encore: Ocean Flows