Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Concert Review

9:30 Club | July 3, 2014

w/ Cabinet & B Side Shuffle

930 Club 07.03.14 ©JeffMyersPhotos 80

By: Andrew McConnell

Edited by: Randall Harris

Last Thursday was a magical night of music at the 9:30 Club in celebration of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s CD Release Party. With the top-notch production and lighting in play, the artists got to focus on the only thing they should have to focus on, the music, and it certainly showed. Flockers from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s home of Baltimore took the city by storm, joining the DC flock.

Kicking off the night was none other than B Side Shuffle, an emerging group of funk-rock all-stars from the DC area that formed less than two years ago. They first graced the 9:30 Club stage this past April, sharing the bill with The Revivalists and Moon Taxi. They opened with a stream of solid originals, “Gauntlet”, “Polywobble”, “Summer Song”, and then invited out some very special guests for “Omajimawoma.” This track has become somewhat of an anthem for the group, so it only seemed fitting to invite Danny Davis (trumpet) and Mario D’Ambrosio (tenor sax) of Yellow Dubmarine on stage to sit in. Immediately after that, the surprising cover of the set was a stellar rendition of Paul Simon’s “Call Me Al.” The set continued on in solid form, including a drum solo into “El Diablo” and “Control Room,” a brand new song with a soaring guitar outro that really got the crowd going.

This was my first time catching Cabinet, a unique sounding bluegrass-jam-rock outfit whose sound is hard to pinpoint, and I mean that in the best way possible. In an age of recycled ideas, Cabinet offers something fresh for listeners. They are armed with an arsenal of instruments to draw upon, spanning from mandolin to electric guitar to fiddle. This electrified folk-meets-rock with a spin of a modern era is a sound that will blow your mind, quite frankly. They even moved through some laid-back, backbeat reggae passages during the night. Whether it is an electric guitar solo or a shreddin’ fiddle, the bottom line is this band offers something a much needed departure from the norm. It should go without saying that Ron Holloway is one of the best saxophonists around. He’s played with a laundry list of legends, from Dizzy Gillespie to the Allman Brothers; he’s done it all. His ability to shine onstage with an act of any genre plays an integral role in why he is so highly acclaimed. This was no exception when he joined Cabinet on-stage.

With two outstanding acts already blowing the roof off the 9:30 Club, it was still early in the night as fans awaited the highly anticipated set from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. In celebration of their newest album, Psychology, flockers rejoiced in the momentous occasion. The band has been steadily garnering a large following in the Mid-Atlantic region and the US as a whole. They are touring very extensively and it shows in their seamless timing and fluidity in their playing throughout the set. The group opened with the funky “Time To Ride” to get the vibe going, which featured a solid exploratory jam, particularly from Schon on lead guitar. One surprise of the set was a new original, “Poseidon,” which featured Mario D’Ambrosio on sax. I did not expect to hear a song so new that it wasn’t even on the new album, very nice surprise indeed.

The set really caught fire with “The Hop>F.U.>I Got You>Julia>Psycho Killer>Julia Upfunk”. To begin, “I Got You” featured D’ambrosio as well as Danny Davis on trumpet, which really rounded out the sound. It is safe to say the first track off the new album, “F.U.,” has become somewhat of an anthem for the group as it encapsulates all things flocky. My mind was blown with the “Psycho Killer,” a classic staple of the NYC punk era that the Talking Heads played such an integral role in pushing. The song is really simple, so much to the point that oddly enough it can pose a challenge, but Carrey and Schwartz clearly held the bottom end dance grooves heavily. However, the band wasn’t done exceeding expectation as they launched into a “Yankee Doodle/Reba” mashup that was met with eruptive applause from the crowd. To close out the night they rocked one of the best tracks off Psychology, “Melting Lights.”

Overall, the event turned out to be an incredible live music experience at one of the best venues in town. It is truly refreshing to see the Mid-Atlantic music scene thriving. What a way to ring in the 4thof July. See you Flockers next time!


Jeff Myers Photography

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