September 7, 2018

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Rock The Haunt

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Pigeons Playing Ping Pong kicked off the month performing at The Haunt on Saturday. I arrived half an hour early to a crowd that nearly filled the venue to capacity. The mood was light and the venue was intimate. Concert-goers gathered around the bar, awaiting the night’s performance. As I pushed through the crowd, scouting out the area, it became quickly apparent that “The Flock,” the name of the band’s tour following, was ready to have a blast. One member of “The Flock,” referred to simply as Drew, drove down to Ithaca from Syracuse, described past concert experiences as “a category of their own,” stating that “the Pigeons never fail at bringing the crowd on a musical journey that they won’t want to end.” The chirping whistles along with the lyrics sung in falsetto made it clear that the Pigeons were in town.

The opening act was the band, “Goose.” They set the mood, performing covers of songs such as Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is.” Goose successfully engaged with concert-goer and enticed them the sing along and dance in unison. The rudiments of their music were diverse, with influences of funk, psychedelic rock, rock and roll, and reggae. After they got off stage, I was able to catch up with a band multi-instrumentalist, who described the crowd as “welcoming of fun and new music.” He explained to me that the night was a good opportunity to expose their music to a young, college audience.

The Pigeons took the stage without warning, jokingly hyping up the crowd while they tuned their instruments. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was loose and lackadaisical, just like the crowd that came to watch them. They took the stage behind dazzling lights, jumping to the rhythm of their own instrumentation. Regardless of the content and creative differences between the songs that night, the generally up-tempo nature invited dancers to get their grooves on.

One song that peaked my interest that night was “Porcupine,” off their 2017 album Pizzaz. The group’s chemistry on this California-inspired track was inspired. Guitarist and singer Greg Ormont delivered a skillful guitar solo that captured my imagination, reminding me of similarly great performances from bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Hypnotically shaking their frizzly hair, the band created a strongly visual experience, keeping my eyes open for some eccentric stunt. Another high energy song was the comical “Say Cheese.” The Pigeons jokingly rambled about cheese over smooth guitar and bass riffs. Halfway through the song, Ormont stopped the music, delivering a monologue about the futility of cheese in cuisine. It was rather goofy, and the crowd responded with sarcastic boos and whistled chirps.

Along with these commercially released songs, Pigeons debuted a new song “Snake Eyes,” which featured the same funky consistency of their album Pizzaz. The band described this song as a prelude to more new music to come, as they prepare for an upcoming national tour.

By the time the Pigeon experience was over, The Haunt was still very much alive. Fans stayed behind to mingle, making the best of what was still a young night. The performance fed into everyone’s pursuit of happiness and, for a moment, brought out the wild side of everyone. I will be looking forward to more inspired material from this young and imaginative band.

 

Michael Chang is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at mdc279@cornell.edu.