$20 Day of Show
$30 Limited Early Bird 2-Night Pass - SOLD OUT
$34 2 Night Pass
“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.
“It’s really important that our live show puts out as much energy as possible and promotes lightheartedness and positivity,” says Schon. “All that matters in the moment at a concert is what’s going on onstage and in the room around you, and we try to put on a show where people can really lose themselves in those moments and use our music as an outlet to feel good.”
The band chased those same ideals when they headed into producer Steve Wright’s WrightWay Studios in Baltimore to record ‘Pizazz,’ the follow-up to their 2016 fan-favorite ‘Pleasure.’ Tracking live on the floor, the foursome channeled all the rapture of their live shows into tight, crisp packages. Songs that may unfold onstage over the course of 20 minutes were reimagined for the studio, where they’d need to reach the same frenzied, emotional heights, in less than half that time.
“I think this album really shows attention to detail when it comes to choosing our moments and the way we’ve been able to make parts more concise without losing their natural feel,” says Ormont. “Having a strong drummer is a big part of that. Alex is able to convey so much feeling and bring us to those peaks and valleys really quickly and efficiently when we need him to.”
‘Pizazz’ opens up with the bouncing, carefree “Fun In Funk,” which finds the band proclaiming, “We put the fun in funk” over wah-wah guitars and an infectious rhythm section driven both by Petropulos’s drums and Ben Carrey’s fat, slinky bass lines.
“Funk is very fun, upbeat, happy music to begin with,” says Ormont. “It’s our mission to put that fun into everything we do."
It’s a mission that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was born for. The visceral sense of joy in their music acts as a sort of glue here, binding the band’s wildly versatile sounds into a cohesive and distinctive whole on the album. On “Somethin For Ya,” they channel 70’s disco and pair it with a wicked prog-rock solo, while tracks like “Offshoot” and “Too Long” embrace the group’s darker, more bass-and-electronics-influenced dance side. “Poseidon” and frequent show-closer “Ocean Flows,” on the other hand, showcase Pigeons’ bright, sparkling, melodic soul, as ‘Pizazz’ rises and falls with the same inimitable mix of precision and frenzy that defines the band’s one-of-a-kind live show.
Each Pigeon is a virtuosic musician and improviser in his own right, and the band’s songs are frequently born out of impromptu grooves and riffs. The swirling, trippy “Porcupine,” which clocks in at nearly eight minutes in all its jamming glory, taps into the uninhibited, open-ended nature of the band’s rehearsal sessions, while the driving “Henrietta” grew out of one of Schon’s soundcheck guitar loops. The island vibes of “Fox and Toad” are pure stream of consciousness written in the car after band practice, and “Doc” is a gritty, horn-fueled sing-along inspired by a Baltimore legend.
“There’s a homeless man named Doc who would always spend his time outside of the 8x10 club in Federal Hill, where we learned to push our limits as a band,” says Ormont. “Doc always supported us. Even though he was sleeping under a bridge, he’d always ask you how you were doing. We really wanted to commemorate his toughness and positivity.”
It’s difficult to think of a more fitting match for a band like Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, who radiate positivity wherever they go. Whether it’s Doc or The Flock, the band wants to elevate each and every member of their audience to the kind of blissful place that only the most ecstatic live music can take you. It’s a place filled with beauty and light, joy and power, love and community, all delivered with a heaping dose of pizazz.
In June of 2017 Midnight North is slated to release their third studio album: Under the Lights. On this full length record, Midnight North left it all on the court. Recorded by David Simon-Baker (Los Lobos, ALO, Jackie Greene, Mother Hips) at the Greene Room and Allegiant Studios, Under the Lights features their 11 best new tunes. Expect flares of country on tracks like “The Highway Song” and “Greene County”, tinges of soul on the likes of “Back To California”, but mostly good solid rock and roll. With strong melodies and stronger harmonies, for this band it comes down to one thing: the song.
Immediately after their last studio release, 2015’s Scarlet Skies, Midnight North - fronted by lead songwriters Elliott Peck & Grahame Lesh with lush Hammond B3 organ, lead guitar, and harmony work from Alex Jordan and stomping bass lines from Connor O’Sullivan - began touring the country in earnest, visiting the East Coast and the Midwest for the first time in Summer 2015. The band wrote the majority of Under the Lights in the following months, and the lyrical road themes - the initial excitement, the longing for home, and the inherent need to keep moving - shine through.
“Under the Lights is the perfect title for this collection of songs,” said O’Sullivan. “These songs and lyrics are about being a band of musicians on the road away from home. Songs literally performed and tested under the lights at countless venues across the US.”
Last year, while work in the studio continued, the band’s stream of amazing live shows and festival appearances sped by as the band jammed with heavyweights like Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Tom Hamilton, Mihali Savoulidis, and more. Hitting the road night after night and building their fan base has proved a lot of fun and every time they come back to a city the venues and crowds get bigger while the songs get tighter. “On the road you have an opportunity to dig into what the band is capable of and learn where your limits as a group are and aren’t,” said Jordan. “It was a wonderful opportunity to capture a sound on this album that is identifiably our own.”
In addition to all the touring, Midnight North is on year five of holding down Sunday nights at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, CA. To celebrate the occasion, they released a free live album, Live at Terrapin Crossroads in 2016, where Relix Magazine took a shine to “the group’s powerful three-part harmonies.” Performing weekly for a hometown crowd allows a chance to continuously test new material. “I feel like I’ll come to the band with this raw idea and watch it totally come to life,” said Peck.
2017 will continue the growth for Midnight North, as the exciting release of Under the Lights helps point the way for more and more fans to discover the band. “These songs tell our story, at least up to this point,” said Lesh. “Our job is to sing you these stories as honestly as we can and transport you into our world for an hour or two.”
Thu Dec 27 2018 9:00 PM
(Doors 8:00 PM)
$20 Day of Show
$30 Limited Early Bird 2-Night Pass - SOLD OUT
$34 2 Night Pass