Pigeons Playing Ping Pong returns to Northampton

By Emily Johnson

(Filip Zalewski/Flickr)

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong will return for their semi-annual stop in Northampton at the Pearl Street Nightclub on Wednesday night, April 19.

The electro-funk group announced their spring tour in January with 18 shows throughout the United States, including stops at festivals like Electric Forest and Levitate Music Festival. The group will headline Domefest, their own festival hosted at Fort Royale Farm in Bedford, Pennsylvania, on the weekend of May 18.

The Baltimore-based band continues to return to the Pioneer Valley with two shows each year in Northampton, one of the many college towns on their extensive tour list.

In the fall of 2014, the quartet performed at Iron Horse Music Hall to a modest crowd of nearly 50 people. Within two years, the band, expanding their college-aged following called “the Flock,” opened for Dopapod at a packed Halloween show at Pearl Street.

Both Dopapod and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong are familiar to the college music scene. Both bands grew out of the DIY scenes of college dorms and basements. The members of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong met in the dorms at the University of Maryland and started their band in 2009.

Their current tour follows the release of “Pleasure,” their 11-track album released last April. Their three albums, which include 2010’s “Funk-EP” and 2014’s “Psychology,” are all self-released.

The band is made up of four members including lead vocals and guitarist Greg Ormont, vocals and guitarist Jeremy Schon, vocals and bassist Ben Carrey and drummer Alex Petropulos.

The band is known for their consistent touring, which has allowed their fan base to grow, and their high-energy performances, which often turn new listeners into immediate fans.

All maintain smiley expressions while playing, and Ormont, who often dons pajama pants, is undoubtedly the most excited person in the venue at any of their performances.

In a 2016 “Huffington Post” interview, Ormont was asked to describe the band’s performances by answering the question: “If two celebrities had a baby and it equaled your sound, who would it be and why?”

“I guess I’d say Jack Black and David Byrne [because] we’re all up in your melted face. The runners-up would be: Method Man and John Quincy Adams, Alex Trebek and Yao Ming, or Herbie Hancock and Alf,” he answered.

The band is known for their instrumentals but they can also be praised for their playful lyrics, which perfectly capture their infectious energy.

In the song “F.U.” Ormont sings, “Got to keep it old school, got to keep it strong. Got to keep on groovin’ ’til my money’s all gone…Cuz all I wanna do is F.U.N.K.” Like their other songs, “F.U.” drifts almost dreamily into a chorus in which Ormont repeats “F.U.N.K.”

Their song “Melting Lights” includes the lines, “I don’t ever wanna go to sleep, I just wanna keep on groovin’… While all you slackers are in bed, I’m still kickin’ by sunrise.”

Other songs include “Live It Up,” “Sunny Day,” “Live Life” and “Walk Outside.” It seems you can guess what you would be getting at this kind of show. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is about staying up all night and dancing.

So for those non-slackers who don’t plan to head to bed early on Wednesday night and want to join the band for some mid-week excitement, the performance starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $19 in advance or $17 cash only at the show.

Emily Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @EmilyAnneJohn.