The time honored jam band tradition of covering other bands as a "Halloween costume" was unequivocally alive and well this past Halloween weekend. The highly creative quartet Pigeons Playing Ping Pong dressed up as the Who Fighters at College Street Music Hall in New Haven, CT on October 29, 2022. They mashed up songs from the 70's rock legends The Who and the 90's alternative rock band the Foo Fighters while wearing clever matching jumpsuits for the occasion. This Baltimore, MD based band is also in the midst of their 15-Year Anniversary tour, which is certainly a notable accomplishment. The Funky Dawgz Brass Band, the high energy New Orleans funk squad from Connecticut, provided support.
The chilly fall weather did not stop the great people of New Haven from wearing costumes without jackets, as the streets were teeming with all kinds of fun imagination. Many of these folks made their way into College Street Music Hall early for the high energy opening act from the Constitution State, The Funky Dawgz. This incredibly talented brass band covered songs from genres such as hip hop, funk and pop, as well as their own originals, with a New Orleans flare. From Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" to Stevie Wonder's "I Wish," this band might as well be in the business of getting crowds hyped up. The raucous dance party heated up early, and those with jackets were starting to wonder why they brought one.
The floor and balcony filled out as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong took the stage for their first set. The band donned matching brown jumpsuits, made by Rachel of Arclectic, as well as aviator sunglasses as they appeared to roaring applause. The music kicked off with a vibrant "Henrietta," from their album Pizazz, which built into a layered jam early, let by guitarist Jeremy Schon. The band quickly shifted gears by a factor of The Who, and delivered the first cover of the night, "Won't Get Fooled Again." Guitarist Greg Ormont slammed the vocals as the crowd joined in on the well known lyrics. "Smile and grin at the change all around, Pick up my guitar and play." And play they did. The quartet transitioned into a raging funk jam that featured a high energy drum solo by drummer Alex Petropulos, before jettisoning back into "Won't Get Fooled Again."
Newer tune "Skinner" followed, and seamlessly transitioned into the first Foo Fighter's song of the night, "Best Of You." The lyrics were cleverly changed to the "Best of Who." The band returned to "Skinner," before playing another Pizazz tune, "Posideon." The audience joined Ormont with the lyrics once again. Both Schon and Ormont jammed together harmoniously as the music flowed into another Who classic, "Pinball Wizard." Petropulos drove the charge as the band sailed into "Ocean Flows," which completed the Pizazz set one trifecta. Bassist Ben Carrey stood out during this mind melting funk jam.
The set was not over quite yet, with "Donkey Hotel" up next. Carrey picked up and wore a conductor hat that was thrown from the crowd. The band jammed into dark territory, and the stage lights got black and spooky, before launching into "Borris The Spider" by The Who. This included a large spider that was passed through the crowd, and of course, plenty of spider web that stretched the floor. Schon's stellar guitar work brought the set home as the band transitioned into the Foo Fighers' "All My Life," and closed out the first set with a bang.
The band returned for round two, starting with "Su Casa" from the release Perspectives. This led euphoniously into the Foo Fighter's "My Hero," which was last played at Dome Fest in May 2022. The crowd joined in for a fun sing along during this well known tune. Petropulos exhibited his strong skills on drums as the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong segued back into "Su Casa."
The band welcomed their first guest for the evening, nineteen year old guitarist Brandon "Taz" Neiderauer for a fiery version of The Who's "Eminence Front." Neiderauer showcased his exemplary guitar skills during a solo that Pete Townsend would be proud of. Both Schon and Neiderauer channeled the energy into the aisle of funk, as they played off one another. The song hit a vibrant apex before finishing off "Poseidon" from set two.
Petropulos took a moment to wish his mom a happy 60th birthday, and the eclectic squad played the "Fun in Funk" card. A tasty funk jam ensued that set up a sweet dive into "The Seeker," another smoking song by The Who, and then back into "Fun in Funk." "Sir Real" followed, with Schon deep in the pocket. Another perfectly executed transition ushered the band into the last song of the evening by the Foo Fighters, "Everlong." This blazing hot set wrapped up with "The Town."
The show was not over quite yet, as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong returned with three members of the Funky Dawgz to accompany them with their quintessential funky tune, "F.U.," which included a riff from the Who's "5:15." The musicians hoisted the energy higher, as the music unfurled into "You Should Be Dancing" by the Bee Gees. The Funky Dawgz executed the timeless disco melody perfectly. This high spirited evening closed out with brief jaunt back into "F.U."
This show was unquestionably Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at their best, and could not have been more fun. This convivial bird band is back on stage December 2nd and 3rd with a two night stand at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Va. A number of dates on the east coast follow, culminating with a sure to be legendary new years run in Pittsburgh, Pa. Fly on over to their tour page for more details.
Henrietta, Won’t Get Fooled Again* > Drums > Won’t Get Fooled Again, Skinner > Best Of You*^ > Skinner, Poseidon” > Pinball Wizard+ > Ocean Flows, Donkey Hotel” > Boris The Spider*~ > All My Life*
Su Casa > My Hero > Su Casa, Eminence Front*$ > Poseidon$, Fun In Funk > The Seeker* > Fun In Funk, Sir Real > Everlong* > The Town
F.U.%= > You Should Be Dancing% > F.U.%
“The Who Fighters” Halloween Night 2
* First time played
^ w/ “Best of Who” lyrics
+ First time playing full song
~ Spiderwebs and giant spider on the crowd
$ Brandon Niederauer on guitar
% The Funky Dawgz on horns
= 5:15 riff*