Last week, I caught a concert in Solana Beach by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a funk jam band hailing from Baltimore. One of my friends, a Deadhead who attends several concerts a month, recommended it to me as “the best in-concert experience” he has ever had; this is a guy who spent an entire week listening to Phish in Madison Square Garden. It seemed like high praise, especially from him, so I had to check them out. I gathered a couple other music lovers who were also unfamiliar with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and we headed over to the venue, Belly Up: an excellent music venue packed with great ambience, killer acoustics, and enthusiastic listeners.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong created the perfect vibe for a small venue concert. Though it seemed that most of the audience was new to their music, their energy and presentation carried through the entire crowd. They had unrivaled on-stage presence, engaging more and more with each song. It felt like they were part of the audience themselves, responding to its every dance move.

The audience was universally letting loose, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong continued for two hours without so much as a pause. Their set was perfectly flowing, never monotonous, and always had you guessing the next song while keeping you completely in the loop. The guitarists and the bassist had great chemistry, exchanging riffs as if they were talking to each other. The drum solo was the highlight of the night, coming in between two wonderfully melodic pieces, and stole the show suddenly and superbly.

All in all, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was definitely one of my best concert experiences. There were no crazy antics on the part of the artists, no bells or whistles; just pure musical excellence with incredibly engaging performers. They do over 200 shows a year, and if they end up in your area, I would highly recommend seeing them. Until then, find them on Spotify and Bandcamp– while you’re at it, definitely check out their 2014 album, Psychology.


Written by Avaneesh Narla

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