Concert Review: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at The Local: How I Became Part of ‘The Flock’

Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 9:00 am

By Bailey Faulkner

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong perform at The Local in Boone on March 2, 2016. Photo by Tim Hubert.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong perform at The Local in Boone on March 2, 2016. Photo by Tim Hubert.

When I told my friends that I wanted to go to The Local to see a band called Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, most asked, “What kind of name is that?” I had to explain that PPPP was an awesomely groovy funk group that I really wanted to see live for the first time. But a few of my friends who had already seen the band perform knew what I was about to find out later that night — that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is arguably the most talented and entertaining musical experience you could imagine.

The band’s studio recordings already had me hooked. I couldn’t stop thinking about the out-of-this-world guitar solo in “F.U.” from the group’s 2014 release, Psychology. Based on the recordings alone, I understood that each member’s musicianship is through the roof. Having never seen the group perform live, I didn’t know that PPPP would exceed the extremely high expectations I already had. Now I know better.

The Show

When I walked up to the door at The Local on March 2, I already saw a large and energetic crowd that was obviously ready for a funky night. From the first note that I heard the band play, my mind — along with my friends’ and fellow concertgoers’ minds — was totally blown. I instantly regretted that I hadn’t been a longtime fan of the band.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong perform at The Local in Boone on March 2, 2016. Photo by Tim Hubert.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong perform at The Local in Boone on March 2, 2016. Photo by Tim Hubert.

Once the music started, there wasn’t a soul in The Local that didn’t feel the groove. Knowing I needed to be as close to the funk as possible, I was able to dance my way to the very front of the crowd. Once I was front and center, I was able to fully take in the experience.

Throughout the night, I kept losing myself in the music. As I danced and looked around the venue, I would catch myself being totally mesmerized by one member at a time. The band truly has an ability that sets amazing bands apart from “good” bands: each member puts on a show of his own while simultaneously meshing with the others to make the tightest, most groovy sound that any band could ever dream of achieving.

Because I play guitar myself, my attention usually goes immediately to a band’s lead guitarist. However, the first thing that really blew me away was the tightness of the drums and bass working together. Alex Petropulos (percussion) and Ben Carrey (bass, vocals) excel at making each song’s backbone an irresistibly dance-inducing musical phenomenon. I can honestly say that I have never been as impressed with a rhythm section as I was with the Pigeons. Petropulos’ incredible drum fills and Carrey’s effortless bass slapping is something I will never forget.

Like the rhythm section, Greg Ormont (guitar, lead vocals) and Jeremy Schon (lead guitar, vocals) were undeniable funk phenoms. As expected, Schon continuously showed that he is a musical freak of nature, playing some of the most interesting and tasteful leads and solos that I have ever seen. Coming as no surprise, Ormont performed with 110 percent of the swagger and spirit of a true funk frontman. The two guitarists even played some of the coolest harmonies that I have ever heard in funk music.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong perform at The Local in Boone on March 2, 2016. Photo by Tim Hubert.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong perform at The Local in Boone on March 2, 2016. Photo by Tim Hubert.

I really enjoyed “Julia” from Psychology. Ending their first set with the beachy reggae jam was perfect, leaving me craving the next set. During the break, I got the chance to talk to the band’s manager, Dave DiCianni, and check out the band’s merchandise. The merch was cool and Dave was even cooler!

The band really got the crowd fired up with their version of “Ghostbusters.” The funky tune had everyone dancing even harder than they had been all night. It was definitely one of the most interesting and well-played covers I have seen in a long time.

One of the most memorable moments of the night was when the band played a new song, Henrietta. Although it was only the second time that the band had performed it live, it seemed like they had been playing it their entire lives. The changes in dynamics and the song’s feel perfectly capture what PPPP is all about. I’m sure the song will become a fan favorite.

After finishing the second set, the band came back to the stage to play an encore, ending the show having given the entire audience a night to remember.

Once the group left the stage for good, I understood why the band has such a diehard fanbase appropriately called “The Flock.” I know I’ll be flocking to wherever the band’s next show in the Carolinas will be!

If you’ve never heard of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and I haven’t won you over with my experience, check out the band’s music or, even better, catch the group live as soon as you can.If you have a set of ears, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to become PPPP’s next fan!

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