Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Bring Psychedelic Funk to GR

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

If you are looking for a good time, look no further than The Intersection on Wednesday, Feb. 28. That’s when Pigeons Playing Ping Pong plans to raise the energy level in Grand Rapids with its unique take on funk music.

The four-piece jam band consists of members Greg Ormont (vocals and guitar), Jeremy Schon (guitar and vocals), Ben Carrey (bass and vocals), and Alex Petropulos (drums).

You may have noticed there is no keyboardist listed in that lineup. “It’s just two guitars, drums and bass. We do have a drum pad that we do very light sweeps and samples, but very rarely,” Ormont said.

The other thing that sets the band apart is its commitment to putting on high-energy performances that leave audiences smiling.

“Our biggest thing is energy and performing with everything we can muster at every single show,” Ormont said. “We’ve said before shows, no matter what size the club is, let’s play it like its Madison Square Garden, and keep that mentality of performing like it’s the last performance of your life.”

The band members hope ear-to-ear smiles will be reflected back from the audience as well, building “that energy together.”

“That is our biggest thing, our personality on stage,” Ormont said.

He said the band’s stage presence draws inspiration from great rockers like David Byrne, Freddy Mercury or Mick Jagger. “I’m a fan of the way Dave Grohl performs,” he added.

“We are trying to be zany and animated. I like confidence on stage.”

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has been playing together for nearly 10-years, having first started jamming together on the University of Maryland campus in 2009.

The band released its first full-length album titled “Funk E P” in 2010, its second full-length album titled “Psychology” in 2014, and its third full-length album, “Pleasure” in 2016.

A lineup change in 2015, with the addition of Petropulos, led to a bit of a change in the band’s sound on its most recent album, “Pizazz,” released in October 2017, and brought a new level of drive to the endeavor.

“The biggest thing Alex has brought to the table is drive, and that includes not only the way he plays, which is forceful and confident and tight as a drum, he also works so hard on his craft at home,” Ormont said.

“He really just practices really hard. Whenever we are in a group setting he is always giving it 110 percent and his chops are noticeable and it makes us all want to practice hard and play better and give it our all, which is nice to have band members inspiring each other to be better.”

The Grand Rapids stop is only the second on the band’s latest tour, but it’s not the first time the band’s visited Grand Rapids. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong opened for Lotus at The Intersection most recently and played The Stache previously as well. Ormont said it will be fun to be the headliner this time around.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is touring with Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers. “They have a ton of stage energy and they wear costumes,” Ormont said. “One of their horn players sat in with us at Electric Forest and surged the stage with energy.”

The band plans to tour throughout the spring and is looking forward to playing several festivals in the summer, including its own festival, Domefest.

“Domefest is our pride and joy,” Ormont said.

The music and camping festival is being held this year at Fort Royale Farm in Bedford, Pennsylvania on May 17-19. It is in its ninth year and has grown to approximately 2,000 attendees.

Ormont said like its growing festival, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong hopes to grow incrementally. “We just want to sustain and grow. We don’t want to jump too far up the ladder and miss a step and fall,” he said.

He also said the band’s goal is to keep having fun. “As long as we are having fun we are happy,” he said.

*Photo courtesy of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong