REVIEW: Twiddle and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at Turner Hall Ballroom
“I’m lost and I can’t seem to find my way home.” That’s definitely how I thought this show was going to go. A display of Twiddle’s most famous leading in Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. What occurred this past Friday was anything but routine. I have seen plenty of back to back shows, but I’ve never seen a show like this before in my life. The two bands played off each other in spectacular fashion. When I say spectacular I mean this was truly something to witness. While the music may have been more on the eclectic side, it made up for in insane visuals and a constant jamming sound that most bands would be envious of.
Twiddle in its most basic of explanations is a fairly recently formed jam band from Vermont. Elaborating on that they are a collective of extremely talented musicians that can turn one song and turn it into a 20-minute collaborative jam session that melds a mixture of funk, soul, metal, and pure rock. These guys know exactly how to keep people moving throughout an entire song. Although they have released a few albums they are renowned for their beyond epic live shows, and epic they are.
Twiddle has this ability to come out and sweep you off your feet. Being a show virgin to this band I came in expecting the songs that I knew and the fans to go crazy. Much to my surprise, I was damn wrong. This band does something completely different for their live shows that I wasn’t expecting, they avoid their popular songs.
In this particular case, they were the openers for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong so I feel that maybe It’s different for every show. In this case, it was pure jams over hits, which if you are really into jam band music is a godsend. You just want to feel where the music takes you. I, however, am a bit more structured with how I view my music. I like a coherent setlist. Now that isn’t to say what Twiddle did was bad or not show worthy, it was quite the opposite. I lost myself to the music and found myself entranced by where the next riff was going to take me. That doesn’t mean I felt a little jaded that they only played two of their main songs.
It was a sight to see for sure, but in the end, I was left wanting. Which a good band should make you do, but this was a sold out show in Turner, I wanted more. I wanted to hear those already 9-minute songs become 15-minute songs. Maybe I’m not a die-hard jam band enthusiast and should appreciate what I saw more, because Twiddle really was amazing. They had a fantastic light show to accompany their sonic passion and it was a great entry into what Pigeons Playing Ping Pong had next.
Would I go see Twiddle again? Absolutely. Would I like to see them as a headliner, definitely so. It could just be that I’m not in the jam band scene enough to truly appreciate what they put on for the crowd, but I wanted hits. I wanted to hear the crowd singing along with the band, I wanted that weird kid with the finger gloves to stop rolling all around the floor. What I wanted was a studio session and I don’t think that’s what they do. It’s something that I made peace with afterward and I need to expect that the next time I see them.
So if you love jam bands, I’m sure you’re already cursing my name. If you are looking for a good show, go see Twiddle, just know what you are going to get yourself into.
After Twiddle I decided I needed to be front and center for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. A full immersion would make me feel exactly the way the band intended. The band takes the stage, drummer dressed in a Kyrie Irving jersey, right before the Bucks are to play game one against the Celtics?!? Oooo baby what is you thinking! The crowd is booing HARD. I’m already worried. Thankfully, he rips it off only to show a Giannis jersey setting the crowd into an expected frenzy of bliss. A little bait and switch to get the crowd going? I’m into it.
Much like Twiddle, PPPP (Pigeons Playing Ping Pong) is known for touring, playing up to 200 shows a year. Although they have a few records out, this Maryland group is known for their improvisation and diversified sound that could only be experienced first hand. Focusing more on their funk based roots, this jam band has clearly taken their cues from funk legend George Clinton. Be weird, be great and never apologize.
Since PPPP was the headliner I immediately noticed a bit more polish in their sound and performance. Not to detract from their openers, but it was clear they were the main attraction that night. From their stage presence to their all-around crowd interaction PPPP was there to send a message. There could be a million other places we could be, but we chose to be there with them and they seemed grateful. It was clear they were having an absolute blast on stage. Keeping with the same eclectic jam band vibe that Twiddle put out, PPPP was all over the place with their songs, playing covers, deeper cuts and a few recognizable songs all throughout the show.
Although I didn’t feel that their light show was nearly as memorable as Twiddle was, it was still enjoyable to see all the things they culmination of lights they brought to the stage. The finale definitely was highlighted when the frontman to Twiddle joined them for a truly epic guitar showdown.
PPPP clearly knows how to shred a funk show and have a good time. I would absolutely see them again and can’t wait till when I do. Keeping in the same vein as their opener, I think I need to mitigate my expectations better to suit what I hear through my headphones. Altogether, I would say the two bands are synced in harmonious sound that should be witnessed first hand. Just come prepared to be there for the music and not the hits. But if you love yourself a jam band you’ll feel right at home!