Spiderwebs hung from the ceiling, smoke machines fogged the stage, and orange and black lights set the scene as ghosts, ghouls, Tinkerbells, Abraham Lincolns and Scooby Doos filed into 9:30 Club Friday.

A tie-dyed tapestry was placed behind the drummers’ territory, and a pigeon covering a Grateful Dead lightning bolt stuck to a makeshift Zeppelin hung at the corner of the stage.

This was not your typical Halloween dance party.

Not a head nor foot could resist banging or tapping, and not one audience member could forgo dancing during Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s Dead Zeppelin set, sponsored by All Good.

The multitude of Pigeons’ fans—often referred to as “The Flock”—present in the venue were already energized in anticipation long before the start of the set, dancing and swaying to the resonating sounds left behind from openers Litz and Psycho Killers. Timeless Halloween classics like Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” amongst others got the crowd into the Halloween mood.

Bassist of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and UMD alum, Ben Carrey, during their performance at 9:30 club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Bassist of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and UMD alum, Ben Carrey, during their performance at 9:30 club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

As band members and University of Maryland alums Greg Ormont, Jeremy Schon, Ben Carrey and Alex Petropulos entered the stage sporting matching skeleton shirts amongst other costume attire before a sold-out crowd, the audience erupted with cheers, screams and the raising of ping pong paddles, bringing an obviously giddy grin to Ormont’s lips.

The group promised both new song debuts in addition to the incorporation of the iconic rock sounds of Led Zeppelin and Grateful Dead (thus the title of the event, Dead Zeppelin) with Pigeons’ own notorious electric funk, ska sound found in their original tracks.

Needless to say, this anticipated mashup was something listeners had never heard before.

Pigeons’ guitarist, Schon, shredded to a new tune that evening, channeling his inner Jimmy Page with his phenomenal renditions of the iconic riffs from No Quarter and Black Dog, while also seamlessly incorporating the vibe of the Grateful Dead as well as Pigeons with resonating wah and tremolo effects.

One of the highlights of the night was the group’s upbeat twist on the Zeppelin classic, Kashmir. As the song began with the epic drum and guitar fill, it soon progressed to feature the thick bass lines, choppy guitar riffs and deep vocals that make up the electric funk, jam sound that Pigeons fans know and love.  

The Pigeons’ rendition of the classic song evoked a cheering, head banging admiration from the audience and amplified the venue’s energy just before they playedoriginal tracks “Melting Lights” and the ever so catchy “Horizon” from their second album Psychology.

Ormont’s and Schon’s combined stage presence vaguely resembled that of Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page during the 1970s while bassist Ben Carry, decked out with aviators and a fake afro, resembled Grateful Dead icon Jerry Garcia. The audience’s positive, energetic reaction and excitement—and chanting of ‘BC’ in reference to Carry—reflected that of the same era.

Bassist of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and UMD alum, Ben Carrey, during their performance at 9:30 club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
The Baltimore native band Psycho Killers backstage before their performance at 9:30 club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Audience members enjoyed another blast from the past with the second show opener and Talking Heads tribute band Psycho Killers, representing a type of music just as classic as lead singer Jon Wood’s Gibson SG being played.

Fans energetically sung along to Talking Head’s hits such as “Houses in Motion,” “Once in a Lifetime,” and the timeless favorite “Burning Down the House” but ironically not “Psycho Killer,” the chart topper from the band’s Talking Heads: 77 album as well as the origin of the group’s name.

Vocalist and guitarist Jackie Morgia led the energetic vibe of the crowd with her dancing, singing and tambourine as the swirling noises of synth, keyboard, bass, bongos, percussion and distortion filled the venue with the sounds of dance-filled vivacity.

Jackie Morgia, lead singer of Psycho Killers. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Jackie Morgia, lead singer of Psycho Killers.
(Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Dr. Lou, father of Pigeons’ Schon and iconic figure among fans, joined the Psycho Killers during “Wild, Wild, Life” halfway through the set, amplifying the excruciating suspense for everyone’s favorite alliteration funk band.

Leading the event as the first of two show openers was the funk, reggae, up-and-coming jam group, Litz, comprised of Gaithersburg, MD natives Austin Litz, Logan Litz, Mike Litz, Justin Robb, Nick Thrasher and Will S, each sporting various Halloween attire fit for the occasion.

Robb’s eccentric and immensely impressive playing kick-started the energetic dance party vibe as Austin’s gravelly yet entrancing vocals encouraged more dancing from the audience.

Austin showed off his talents in more ways than one, including both Jethro Tull-esque flute solos and powerful saxophone melodies all before ripping off his costume before an entertained crowd.

Just as fans were engrossed in their air-guitars and air-saxophones, Litz finished the premier set with a spooky rendition of Screamin’ Jay Hawkin’s 1956 “I Put A Spell On You,” a Halloween necessity, setting the tone for the rest of the night.

Featured Photo Credit: Lead singer of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and UMD alum, Greg Ormont, during their performance at 9:30 Club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Jordan Stovka is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at jstovka@icloud.com.

One response to “Review: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Evoke Headbanging Admiration”

  1. […] In most cases, I’ve seen pop/alternative bands in the renowned venue, but I’ve also been in attendance for folk singer-songwriter performances, hip-hop rock mashups, Americana-inspired rock, Talking Heads cover bands and Halloween funk shows. […]

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