REVIEW: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at Pabst Theater

I know what you’re thinking, what the hell is Pigeons Playing Ping Pong? Which is a fair question, but what these guys have in their silly name is offset by the sheer mad talent with their instruments. There is something about a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously that gives a comforting factor in what to expect. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong takes that thought flips it on its side and sets it on fire, in the best way possible. This jam band has been around for a decade and amassed quite a large following. It’s clear to see why if you’ve ever experienced a Pigeons show before. It’s a mixture of what you’ve come to expect from a jam show paired with the lighting experience of an EDM show. There isn’t a chance to catch your breath with the amount of energy that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brings to the stage, and the show on November 6th was no exception.

The Band

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is an American funk jam band from Baltimore, Maryland. The band has garnered a following as a result of their consistent touring, playing as many as two hundred shows a year. The band blends their funky rock sound with an absolute stellar light show akin to a large scale EDM DJ. The light engineer crafts a show that pairs strobe lights with epic drops.

The Experience

This is where Pigeons Play Ping Pong shows off their rock and roll prowess. Everything about this show blew whatever expectations I had out of the water. I saw this band a few years back and since then they have honed their skills since. This show in particular was a whole different experience than the previous show I saw. It was clear that this band is set to increase their on stage presence each time they return and I’m absolutely here for it. Jam bands have a tendency to bleed songs into one another which can take away from the experience at times but this was not that case. Each song held an individual jam that eventually came back to the original song in a complete cherry on the top way.

Early in the show, it was clear that the crowd was vibing with everything that Pigeons was putting out and the lead singer had already quelled any fears by stating there WILL be a second set. And with that announcement, it was clear that the show shifted gears into high gear and we were off! As the show was finishing up its first set the anticipation of what was coming next was setting in.

After everyone caught their breath we entered the second set which went exceptionally harder than the first half, which already set the bar high. It was here when the audience and their cocktail of mind altering substances took hold. The vibe of the show was a nonstop party and you could feel the building shake with each face melting solo. I want to highlight the skill of the bassist toting a 5 string bass that kept everyone moving. The mixture of every instrument being able to blend perfectly from one to another was a skill that Pigeons has perfected and made it look flawlessly easy. The show ended with a welcoming song about Wisconsin’s favorite thing, cheese. Minus feta cheese for whatever reason, I like feta. Haters.

The Verdict

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong continue to shatter expectations as they master their craft. Between the talent behind each of their instruments and their spectacular light show, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is not a show to miss. I’d love to see this show at an even bigger venue or even a festival where they have an even larger stage presence. Being at the Pabst was a perfect step up for them and left me wanting even more.

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