Words and Photo by Patrick Lacey

Funk jam band Pigeons Playing Ping Pong kicked off their winter tour this week with a 2 night stand in Asbury Park, NJ. Originally booked and sold out at the Stone Pony, these shows were moved down the street to the much larger Paramount Theatre just a few days earlier. After playing to basically a half empty room on Thursday, word had gotten out to “the flock” that tickets were available at the door of the new venue. Plenty of people heading up from the band’s hometown of Baltimore to the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY for Saturday’s show must’ve decided to leave early and make a stop at the Jersey Shore along the way, because Friday night’s show had the venue much closer to capacity.

From the beginning, the band seemed to feed off the larger crowd. Opening with a sequence of ‘Porcupine>Penguins>Funkijam>Porcupine’, the band set the tone for a night that was filled with fun dance grooves and euphoric, guitar-driven peaks. Highlighting the first set was a cover of the Beatles’ ‘While My Guitar Genlty Weeps’ that had a techno-like jam to it, with teases of Chicago’s ’25 or 6 to 4′ which segued into the funky and rarely played ‘Couldn’t We All’ that brought the set to a close.

The second set would bring more fireworks, especially when the band started the fan favorite ‘Horizon’. Guitarist Jeremy Schon really did shine here, showing off his chops, and “Scrambled” Greg Ormont stirred the crowd into a frenzy as they sang along with the chorus, “Celebrate, Celebrate the people you love!” The set also was highlighted by a stellar version of ‘Lightning’, with Schon bringing the jam to a frenetic peak and leading the band into the set closing ‘Ocean Flows’, one of a few songs played tonight off of their latest album, Pizazz. You can tell the band has gotten very comfortable playing the new tunes live, and it showed particularly during the closing number.

A night filled with classic covers, crazy jams and a good time-dance party atmosphere is what has become expected of a Pigeons concert. And the band delivered exactly that in Asbury Park, two nights in a row. As the crowd exited into the salty night air on the boardwalk, you coould hear people buzzing about how these guys are only scratching the surface of their potential. After tonight, I don’t think I can argue with that.


Set 1: Porcupine > Penguins > Funkijam > Porcupine, Fade Fast, Fun in Funk, Fox and Toad, While My Guitar Gently Weeps>Couldn’t We All

Set 2: Walk Outside, Skipjack > Paint It Black > Skipjack, Horizon, Bad For You, Landing > Jam > Lightning, Ocean Flows

E. Whirled

TheWaster.com | Asbury Park