"We pour every ounce of ourselves into every note when we perform live,” says Pigeons Playing Ping Pong singer/guitarist Greg Ormont. “When we’re recording in the studio, we try to maintain that euphoria while finding a way to pack it into a tight, focused vessel. Each song becomes like a spring-loaded can of worms: there’s all this energy boxed up in a neat little package, and then when you come see us live, the cap comes off and the contents fly out in every direction like fireworks.”
It’s a whimsically apt metaphor for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a band whose very existence is rooted in the unyielding quest for joy and positive energy. Blending infectious funk grooves, psychedelic jams, and experimental electronics, the Baltimore four-piece’s new album, ‘Pizazz,’ is a buoyant, blissful reminder of just how much fun music can be. Eschewing the traditional funk band lineup that typically includes keyboards, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong constructs effervescent soundscapes with just two guitars, bass, and drums, crafting their music with a sophisticated ear for both open space and dense layering.
While ‘Pizazz’ is, in many ways, a familiar continuation of the journey that’s earned the band its rapidly expanding and rabidly devoted following (known as The Flock), it also marks the beginning of a new chapter for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The album’s eleven tracks are the group’s first recorded with new drummer Alex Petropulos, whose airtight grooves and explosive power push the band’s sound to new heights.
“We’ve had some of these songs in our live catalog for a while,” says Ormont, “but playing them with Alex has breathed new life into everything. His style and energy have revealed nooks and crannies that we didn’t even realize existed in the tracks. All music boils down to having a good drummer, especially in our dance-oriented jam world, and we’ve got the best drummer I’ve ever heard right now.”
It’s a bold claim, but Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has the live show to back it up. Glide Magazine called them “a band that melts faces and pulls no punches,” while C-Ville Weekly praised the growing “cult around [their] high-energy music, goofy stage antics, and all around good vibes,” and JamBase raved that guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Schon is “destined to become one of our generation’s finest guitarists.” Since the group’s inception nearly a decade ago at the University of Maryland (where the band’s name came to Ormont and Schon during a moment of transcendence in Psych 100), they’ve built up a reputation as one of the most engaging and life-affirming acts on the road, maintaining a relentless tour schedule that has them performing up to 200 shows a year and hitting festivals from coast to coast. The band even founded their own gathering, Domefest, which recently celebrated its eighth year and attracted nearly 2,000 members of The Flock for an immersive weekend of love, music, and community.