The energy at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Connecticut was palpable last Thursday as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong took to the stage. The band is notorious for their long, high energy, exciting sets.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is comprised of Greg Ormont on lead vocals and guitar, Jeremy Schon on guitar and vocals, Ben Carrey on bass and vocals, and Alex Petropulos on drums. The band’s lighting director, Manny Newman, does a superb job of adding a visually striking component to the shows. The lights often synced up to the music, or took on a life of its own.

Ormont also provides a fascinating visual component to the shows. With his untamed hair, big blue eyes, and a smile that never leaves his face, the audience were unable to look away, his happiness seemingly radiating off him. His playful attitude jived well with the upbeat persona of the songs and of the passion of the whole band.

Although its members are from all over, the band met and formed in Baltimore, Maryland. The odd and unique name originally comes from an experiment in which psychologist B.F. Skinner actually taught pigeons to play ping pong. The band has spent the last couple of weeks touring the east coast, making stops in places such as Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Boston.

Unlike other bands who have the same setlist on a nightly basis, you never know exactly what you’re going to get with a Pigeons Playing Ping Pong show. The band tours constantly, sometimes playing upwards of 200 shows in a year. These tour numbers include opener and headling performances, as well as music festivals such as Lock’n, Electric Forest and Disc Jam. The band even has their own festival, Domefast, which they have hosted and played at every year since their inception in 2009.

All of the members of the band are particularly apt at what they do. Schon and Carrey had guitar and bass solo’s to show off their immense talent, but the band as a whole seemed to really work well together. At times, they would even dance in synchronicity.

The setlist was derived from songs across their four releases: “Funk EP” (2010), “Psychology” (2014), “Pleasure” (2016) and “Pizzaz” (2017), all of which were self released. Their newest album, “Pizzaz,” was released only a few months ago, in late October. It was a slight change in sound for the band, but fits in well with their discography and includes some very catchy new tunes that fans have loved.  

Song highlights included “Burning Up My Time,” “Penguins” and “Horizon.” In the middle of the ever-catchy “Julia,” the band seamlessly segued into the theme song from Rugrats, and back into “Julia.” They also played “Fox and Toad” off their newest release, which was fitting at a venue called Toad’s Place. After the show they were humbled and excited to meet fans, speaking with them as though they were close friends.

Kicking off the night was New Jersey-based electronic music producer Flamingosis. Flamingosis set the tone for the night with his funky set that got the crowd grooving. His songs, including the incredibly likeable “Finesse (Hey Baby),” combine sounds of disco, trip-hop and funk.

If it can be said that fans in the audience liked Flamingosis, which they did, then they went absolutely insane over Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. Never once did the crowd stop dancing and cheering. The energy in the room was lively and excited, everyone was ready to party. The band’s music takes the listeners along for a ride, through lows and through peaks. They would build tension and release it, and when they did, the audience could really feel it. The band gave this show everything they had.

At the end of the show, Greg stated that this wasn’t a job; they loved what they do and that they love to do it every night. Everyone in the audience that night could tell this was true.

Recommended tunes: “Horizon,” “Poseidon,” “F.U.,” “Stay” & “Burning Up My Time.”

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