Fanatic would only begin to describe the enthusiasm with which devotees of Jam Band community staples Goose and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brought to Los Angels’ historic Troubadour for the second and final night of their weekend residency. The line stretched the full block and around the corner an hour before Goose was set to take the stage. The mood for the evening was set there as fans took the opportunity to spark up the first joints of the evening, permitting the streets of LA with the aroma we have all come to know and love.
The pride of the Norwalk, CT, Goose, started the night off with a bang. With a calm demeanor properly fitting a man who can gracefully pull off the act of wearing sunglasses indoors, bassist Trevor Bass held a stoic presence as he took center stage throughout the performance. Words are not always needed for a great jam band to tell a story, but Goose took the audience on an emotional journey that took scales and cords to a level all of their own. Setting the mood for the funk influence of the next act, the band took a break from their extended instrumental bonanza and covered Ash’s 2001 hit “Burn Baby Burn,” which got the audience dancing and then some. A red light shining over the stage complemented the lyrics and sentiment of the piece. Unsurprisingly the cover took on a life of its own as the momentum grew, complemented by strobe lights a plenty.
Invoking the history of the Troubador’s tradition of fostering emerging artists and giving talent a platform, the band left the audience with a question before they left the stage. “We only have time for one more song, but just out of curiosity who saw Goose for the first time this weekend?” Prompting an enthusiastic applause from the audience. The band left the crowd like a newly made friend as they ended their set with a nine-minute song to end their set.
After a generous intermission, headliners Pigeons Playing Ping Pong took the stage. Wasting no time, they quickly high fived audience members in the front row, thanked Goose for their set, and jumped right into their opening jam “Too Long.” Nods and minimal gestures between frontman Greg Ormont and his bandmates turned the simple song into a proper jam sesh as the band took the long route home finding the end to the song.
Their next song, “Something For Ya”, turned the ol’ funkometer all the way up to 11, putting to rest all notions that this would be a set skipping on their greatest hits. Their music would not be the only appealing element of their set. The band’s message stayed on message in every way. Down to their clothing style, they kept it quirky and interesting. From drummer Alex Petropulos’ hometown Angels jersey or Ormont’s wildly appropriate penguin-themed pajama bottoms, they titillated the senses with every opportunity.
The band reached into their seemingly never-ending toolbox of talents and flexed their bilingual muscles as they performed their Spanish piece “Yo Soy Fiesta.” Fully committing to the theme, Ormont’s performance was punctuated by his enthusiastic Salsa dancing and a break in the song to project an elongated “gooooooal.” Committed to their craft and reversing of the genre and culture they were representing, their set was not limited to just the hits as they hardly let the energy die down, filling the interludes between many of their songs with improvisation.
Olden took a minute to reflect on the history of the venue, and as we all know, historic venues often prompt historic performances. In a Pigeons Playing Ping Pong first, he proceeded to invite Australian singer and guitarist Angus Leslie of Sex on Toast onstage to accompany them for their next piece. Quick to try to win the crowd over with the man behind the guitar, he joked with the audience stating, “I’d like to thank my mother and father for having sex with each other.” They then proceeded to cover Leslie’s hit song “Oh Loretta” with an enthusiasm that would rival the original.
In true jam band fashion, the first hour was only the beginning. After closing out their first half with “Dawn a New Day,” the band returned to play a second set that was every bit as exciting as the first and then some. While the first of the two sets focused on the hits, the second focused on the jams. After almost a half-hour of intermission, the crowd barely thinned out in preparation for their second act that entertained as well as anyone could have imagined. Truly, the night ended the way it began, with an instrumentally motivated set that controlled its own narrative.
Shortly into the set, Ormont told the crowd “We’re going to do something we don’t normally do, we’re going to take a request from the audience” while the majority of the audience called out random songs, Ormont ignored them all and called on one fan in particular. 11-year-old Jonah, who had flown out from Florida to see this show with his family, requested they play “Havana.” Surprised, Ormont replied, “Havana? Alright!” Then prompted an instrumental flow that would inform the rest of the night.
The fun was far from over. As a stream of green and blue light flooded from the back of the stage, the band gave a passionate cover of the theme from Ghostbusters, leading to a half-hour jam rooted in the song’s theme. A fitting homage to for a show taking place in West Hollywood.
The last chunk of the set was an amalgamation of everything that made this band what it is. Songs leading into extemporization and extemporization leading into songs. By the end even the most seasoned fans couldn’t have been entirely sure what was really going on. Their encore brought much-needed closure to the chaos of their closing number, finishing with “Distant Times” they concluded a night of music that had begun almost five hours prior, leaving the house knowing that no matter how you did the math, everyone got more than their money’s worth from this show.