Pigeons playing ping pong successfully took off on Friday at ExploreAsheville.com Arena for the group Arena 54 New Year’s Eve final. The funky Baltimore-raised quartet delivered an ensemble of otherworldly-themed disco dance music with help from Keller williams, Here come the mummies, and Funk you.
Coming warm from the opening night of the nearby Thursday race Orange peel, Pigeons began the show with an appropriate âdistant timeâ. The group’s COVID anthem was on the nose as PPPP marked one of the few major concerts to take place across the country due to the omicron variant. The rise of the new variety was visible in the expansive dance space found on the arena floor. Well, more room for the rest of us.
In both niches came another episode of relevance with âToo Longâ. Even for those of us who had seen the show the night before, I still felt like it had been “too long.” the Pizazz The runway also marked the first appearance of Here Come the Mummies, which would add their funkified horns throughout the evening. Then came the first of many, many times of the evening with Bee gees‘the essential of the dance “You should dance”.
The disco-themed show took an unexpected psychedelic turn as an intro to Pink floydâShine On You Crazy Diamondâ echoed around the arena. Those with their jaws still open were even more shocked when PPPP performed a 180 in Elton johnâRocket Man,â a bold move given the lack of a keyboardist on stage, but the bet turned out to be worth the risk.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong hit “King Kong” studio oompf as HCTM added horns to the track as it did on the 2020s Presto. “Funk E. Zekiel” set up a cover train which spawned cover trains, weaving through Vicki sue robinson“Turn the beat”, Earth, Air and Fire‘Boogie Wonderland’, the recently released original ‘Let The Boogie Out’, and finally Jamiroquai‘s “Cosmic Girl”.
There is a tendency for the rigid schedule of a New Year’s performance to infringe on a group’s improvisational tendencies. This goes double when there is a theme that requires the incorporation of a multitude of covers. Something in the true spirit of jam groups is lost when the group is forced to stick to a strict time limit and setlist. However, what New Year’s themed shows lack in depth of improvisation, they make up for with sheer pageantry.
That being said, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has always found sound spaces to explore on one of its most proven vehicles, âOcean Flowsâ. Ardent Jeremy Schon the leads began to crawl slower and slower as the rhythm section of the drummer Alex “Gator” Petropulos and bassist Ben carrey built a reggae rebound. The island beats eventually manifested as The police“Walking On The Moon” gave way to a cover of “Ocean Flows” to close the first set.
With about 15 minutes before the ball fell, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong returned to the stage uninvited for a âPoseidonâ who had the room to breathe before an avalanche of covers and stage antics ensued. follows. The honor of the last PPPP song of 2021 went to âBurning Up My Time,â which became the traditional âAuld Lange Syneâ at the stroke of midnight.
After midnight all bets were off for any hope of a “normal” Pigeons show (whatever it is). With the stage occupied by the band, Here Come the Mummies on brass, Funk You members on percussion, Keller Williams and a cavalcade of a dozen alien disco dancers – and, at one point, Gumby – the covers began. to rain.
The new year has started well with Carl Douglas‘”Kung Fu Fighting” before People of the village‘s “Macho Man” and Parliament‘s “Unfunky UFO”. This spawned what was called on the band’s written setlists as ‘That’s The Mashup’, anchored around KC & The Sunshine Band‘s “This is how it is (I like it)”, while addressing Rick james‘”Give It To Me Baby” and “Shake Your Booty” by KC.
The frantic pace at which Pigeons ran through the songs was downright dizzying. Trying to tell the setlist requires a frame-by-frame review worthy of Zapruder’s only film. Instead of breaking down every cover, tease, quote, or nod that alludes to the theme, here are some highlights.
Keller Williams returned to the stage for PPPP’s usual sit-in song, “Lightning,” where he engaged in a mouth-and-horn duel with “Scrambled” Greg Ormont. With the multitude of musicians on stage and Pigeons’ electric funk style, there wasn’t much sonic room for the barefoot acoustic shaman. Always an improviser, Keller found other ways to make his presence known, whether vocally or generally on stage, we’ll talk about that later.
“Lightning” did a quick run Elegant‘s “The Freak” before retaliation that ultimately sent all of the guests, except Keller, to pack their bags. A semblance of normalcy ensued with “Julia”, an improvisational moment of the evening that turned out to be a remarkable jam with little competition.
Between “Julia” came Gave the summer‘s “I Feel Love” before a funky version of the X files theme and a few other originals with “The Hop” and “FU”, the latter seeing all the strength of Here Come the Mummies horns return on stage. Classier ensued with âGood Timesâ before a bizarre moment which saw Spongebob Squarepants creep onto the stage only to remove his mask revealing a robot, who then removed that mask to reveal Keller wearing an N95 mask, only for the ” remove and recite The beginning of Sugar Hil Gang“Rapper’s Delight” before a “FU” cover.
Anyone who came dressed as a police officer, construction worker, Native American chief, or just dressed in any leather was lucky with the Village People’s “YMCA” which would serve as the final cover of the evening. With all the madness in the rearview mirror it was time for some good old fashioned original pigeons with the instrumental “Schwanthem” stomper to complete the second set marathon.
As the clock approached 1:30 a.m., Pigeons launched a quick âDocâ that ended a long and enchanting evening, sending the crowds to face the New Year.
Watch Full Video of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Arena 54 NYE show in Asheville, NC below. The group returns to the road on January 14 for a two-night tour of The Fillmore Philadelphia. For tickets and a full list of tour dates, click here.
Ping Pong Pigeons – ExploreAshville.com Arena – Asheville, NC – 12/31/21
Setlist: Pigeons playing ping-pong | ExploreAsheville.com Arena | Asheville, North Carolina | 12/31/21
Set One: Distant Times> Too Long *> You Should Be Dancing ^ *> Too Long *> Shine On You Crazy Diamond â> Rocket Man ^> Distant Times, King Kong *, Funk E Zekiel * #> Turn The Beat Around ^ * #> Boogie Wonderland ^ * # â> Funk E Zekiel * #, Let The Boogie Out *> Let’s Groove * ^â> Cosmic Girl * ^ $> Let The Boogie Out, Ocean Flows> Walking On The Moon ^> Ocean Flows
Second series: Poseidon, burning my time &> Auld Lang Syne +> Starman ^ + => Auld Lang Syne +> Kung Fu Fighting + * #!%> Macho Man ^ + * #!%> Kung Fu Fighting + * #!%> Unfunky UFO ^ + *%, That’s The Mashup ^ * +> Lightning *%> Le Freak *%> Lightning *%, Julia> I Feel Love ^%> Julia, X-Files +> The Hop> FU * +> Good Times ^ * +> Rapper’s Delight ^ * +%> Good Times * +> FU * +> YMCA ^ * +> Schwanthem
Again: Doc *
* with the horns of the mummies
^ First time played
# with Will Foster & Palmer Owens (Funk You) on percussion
$ with Move On Up ^ and Let’s Groove tease
& with the third stone of the sun tease; Countdown to NYE
+ with extraterrestrial invasion; The midnight feat. Keller Williams as an alien overlord; The feat of good times. alien soul train
! with Horned Gnarly G & Josh Spilliards (Funk You)
% with Keller Williams; The feat of lightning. battle of trumpets to mouth
It’s like that, Shake Shake Shake, Give It To Me Baby, Ring My Bell, Boogie Nights mashup