Pigeons Put the F.U. in Fun & Funk Over Sold Out Brooklyn Bowl Run May 8, 2018 13:14
Words by Kenny Cunningham: Live & Listen
Photos by John R. Wisdom Photography
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is one of the hottest up-and-coming acts in the jam scene, and this weekend at Brooklyn Bowl proved why. Not many bands are capable of filling up the Bowl for one night, nonetheless three, especially when considering that they were up against Jazz Fest, which annually brings many New Yorkers down to NoLa. But the Pigeons had their flock out in full force, packing out the Brooklyn venue and keeping the full house grooving all weekend.Their astronomical rise through the scene has been a joy to watch, and it makes total sense; musically, they bring the heat and provide what their crowd is there for—funky, danceable bass lines, power drumming, soaring peaks. Performance-wise, they are top-notch, with a lighting design that matches the enthusiasm of the band onstage, and they just look like they’re having so much damn fun!
This weekend showcased all of those reasons that Pigeons are experiencing this meteoric ascent, from their choreographed playing and superb lighting design to their high energy stage presence to the dancey funky fun they bring. Beginning Thursday night, it was apparent that the crowd was ready to get down. And the Pigeons didn’t disappoint! They opened the first night with “Whoopie,” with rhythm guitarist “Scrambled” Greg Ormont, lead guitarist Jeremy Schon, and bassist Ben Carrey engaged in a choreographed head-nod dance move. And the fun continued straight from there until the encore on Saturday night.
The band played 6 sets without repeats and many fun covers, including “Hava Nagila” (a fun Pigeons staple), “Hyrule Castle” (the theme song from classic Nintendo video game “Zelda”), “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (from The Lion King), the Star Wars “Cantina Song” and “Imperial March,” the Beatles’ “Get Back,” The Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll,” “Tequila,” Michael Jackson’s “Pretty Young Thing,” and The Who’s “Pinball Wizard.” And they of course broke out some of their most popular hits, like “F U,” “Fun In Funk,” “Julia,” “Poseideon,” “Horizon,” and “Melting Lights.” Each set was fun, funky, spacey, raging, and different. The energy inside Brooklyn Bowl was off the charts, and the crowd was dancing and having as much fun as the band!
Brooklyn Bowl plays host to many great bands, nights, and shows, and these three soldout PPPP shows should stand near the top of performances there. When Pigeons wrapped up on Saturday night with “Zydeko,” the crowd was not ready for the fun to end! And the way Pigeons are going, it doesn’t have to! They can be seen next at Domefest, their curated festival in Bedford, PA, from 5/17-5/19, as well as at Summer Camp Music Festival (Chillicothe, IL 5/25-5/27), Great South Bay Music Festival (Patchogue, NY 6/14), Peach Music Festival (Scranton, PA 7/19), LOCKN’ (Arrington, VA 8/25), and many other great events throughout the summer.
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - Brooklyn Bowl - 05.03.18
Set One: Whoopie, Somethin’ For Ya > Havana > Spacejam > The Hop > F.U., Fortress, Porcupine, Hava Nagila > Schwanthem
Set Two: Too Long > Upfunk > Hyrule > Upfunk > Drums > Upfunk, Dawn A New Day, Kiwi > I Just Can’t Wait To Be King, Burning Up My Time > Condenser > Su Casa > Condenser, Doc
Encore: Sail On
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - Brooklyn Bowl - 05.04.18
Set 1: Fun In Funk, Live It Up, Penguins > Funkijam > Time To Ride > Cantina Song > Time To Ride, Bad For You, Fox And Toad, Get Back*
Set 2: Totally, Sunny Day, Horizon > Offshoot, Walk Outside, White Night > Imperial March > White Night, Ocean Flows
Encore: King Kong
Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - Brooklyn Bowl - 05.05.18
Set 1: Pop Off, Poseidon, Drunk People, Landing > Jam > Rock and Roll > Funk E Zekiel, Julia
Set 2: J-Town > Melting Lights > Jam* > Fade Fast, High As Five > P.Y.T. > Pinball Wizard > High As Five, The Liquid, Henrietta, Skipjack
Notes: * w/ Tequila tease
Watch Pigeons Playing Ping Pong close out the three-night run with "Zydeko" here:
Joe Russo's Almost Dead: An Experience Like No Other March 16, 2017 10:39
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
After having a few days to rest, travel, and recover, it only seems right to sit down and reflect on the unforgettable experience I had this past weekend. Joe Russo's Almost Dead played its first ever show at Brooklyn Bowl on January 26th, 2013 for what was thought to be a one-time-only special occasion. The show was born as a result of "The Freaks List," an NYC-based email list which would throw an annual event at Brooklyn Bowl. For the 2013 event, The Freaks requested that Joe Russo, Marco Benevento, Dave Dreiwitz, and Scott Metzger switch things up from their regular existing Led Zeppelin tribute (Bustle In Your Hedgegrow) and instead perform the music of the Grateful Dead. Russo would then recruit renowned guitarist Tom Hamilton to complete the five-piece lineup.
Once this month's JRAD Brooklyn Bowl residency was announced, I decided that there was no excuse not to travel to New York for the first weekend. After attending LOCKN' Festival last August and catching my first two JRAD sets, seeing them again has been a top priority. Thursday night marked the band's 100th show, and walking into that venue for the first time is a feeling that I'll never forget. I'm going to do my best to run through each night's setlist and provide some select video footage, but as many already know, these guys throw in more teases, reprises, and flat out curve balls than anyone you'll find.
Those familiar with "Beat It On Down The Line" know those first five beats that kick off the song. In honor of the band's 100th show, BIODTL opened up the show with 100 beats before busting into the Dead classic. The set continued with fiery takes on "Bertha," Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" and "Help On The Way" > "Slipknot." While the Dead would normally segue into "Franklin's Tower," JRAD is no ordinary Dead tribute. An extended "Throwing Stones" jam had me convinced that was where we were headed, until "New Minglewood Blues" busted into full effect. The always beautiful "Ramble On Rose" would follow, providing a nice sing-a-long, which is always good for the soul. The first set ultimately closed with the band's first ever live original, "Keeping It Simple." If you can find a band of this magnitude that debuts its first original at its 100th show, I would love to hear about it.
Watch JRAD perform its first ever live original "Keeping It Simple" here:
The second set kicked off with one of my all time favorites, "The Music Never Stopped." This was just one of the many times that guitarist Scott Metzger truly shined. While each band member had countless moments throughout the weekend, it blows my mind how well Metzger emulates Bobby (Weir). From the style of play to overall demeanor/vocals, he has truly mastered his role in the band. A lengthy jam on Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone From The Sun" and "Music Never Stopped Reprise" provided for some truly wild improvisation, and just when I was thinking we were headed for a "Wharf Rat," Hamilton led a perfect transition into "Row Jimmy," which ultimately flowed into "Crazy Fingers." Metzger shined yet again throughout "Estimated Prophet," and the "Jack Straw" > "Morning Dew" which closed out the show was simply perfect. It never ceases to amaze me how thorough the Dead's catalog is. That, coupled with JRAD's creative spin, makes every night feel like a "greatest hits" set.
Those who have attended multi-night runs with one of their favorite bands know the level of excitement upon arriving at the venue each night. Walking back into Brooklyn Bowl for night two was exciting, to say the least, and there was much anticipation for what was to come. Hamilton led the band through a rocking "Don't Ease Me In" to open things up, before a cover of "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)" had us all dancing and singing along. I couldn't help but feel like this was an appropriate nod to International Woman's Day, but who knows. A lengthy jam ultimately led into "China Cat Sunflower," and while the Dead would normally move straight into "I Know You Rider," JRAD went with "Feel Like A Stranger." After a brief moment to regroup, the band fired into "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleoo," which had an especially sentimental aspect for me. Something about the lines, "Hello baby, I'm gone, goodbye. Farewell to you old southern skies, I'm on my way" really hits home. While JRAD doesn't follow all of the Dead's traditional pairings, a perfect take on "Lost Sailor" > "Saint Of Circumstance" closed out the first set in epic fashion. The lengthy "Terrapin" jam during "Saint of Circumstance" left even more anticipation for set two.
Watch a clip from "Saint of Circumstance" here:
The rocking vibe picked right back up as "Greatest Story Ever Told" started off the second set, and what seemed to be a transition into "Black Throated Wind" eventually led into the band's first cover of Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" since April of 2015. This one flowed beautifully into a "Music Never Stopped Reprise," which was yet another JRAD debut. Hamilton slowed the pace a bit as he led the way through "Candyman," before all five band members chimed in for a flawless, upbeat take on "Uncle John's Band." The debuts continued with a "Stella Blue" jam, and the "He's Gone" that followed threw me for a major loop as they teased the theme song from the Netflix hit series "Stranger Things." You could hear "The Wheel" coming from a mile away, and it certainly didn't disappoint. After a lengthy tease of "St. Stephen," the band worked through the always soothing "So Many Roads," just before "Sugar Magnolia/Sunshine Daydream" just about lit the place on fire and closed out the set. The encore started in classic Dead form with "Ripple," which was followed by the first "U.S. Blues" since JRAD's first show in January of 2013. You can imagine the crowd reaction when those opening notes hit.
Watch a clip from "Sunshine Daydream" here:
While the idea of a three-night run was once intimidating, it's damn near impossible to pass up the opportunity these days. While there are a million other things one could get into while visiting New York City, my friends and I had unfinished business at the Bowl. This was no easy ticket to find either. The lowest price on the secondary market was right at $200 including fees, and you just knew that it was a special night. This set started off with more serious exploration before dropping into a "Cassidy" > "Let It Grow Jam" > "Born Cross Eyed Jam." It's moments like this where this band truly transcends the "tribute" aspect. These extended teases, jams, whatever you want to call them...they will keep any Dead fan engaged and paying attention to every note. The anticipation built throughout this level of improvisation is what separates this band from just about any other, for me personally.
Before we get too off track, "Tennessee Jed" was up next, and Tom Hamilton and Marco Benevento had a hell of a lot of fun with it. Benevento's lengthy solo even contained a nice rendition of "chop sticks" that had the entire room laughing. Metzger then busted out "Chuckles," an original from the WOLF! catalog, which made for yet another JRAD debut. Finding a way to work in The Champs' "Tequila" is never a bad idea, and why not work it back into a "Chuckles Reprise"? Next, came a great cover of Johnny Cash's "Big River," and the "Box of Rain" that followed couldn't have been placed any more perfectly. One of Jerry Garcia's finest, "Althea," was played to perfection, and the "Throwing Stones" that I was waiting for all weekend closed the set with a bang, to say the least. No matter where you stand in the political spectrum, this one is as powerful as ever considering our current climate.
Watch JRAD perform "Throwing Stones" here:
The weekend's final set started off smokin' hot with "Deal" > "Good Lovin'," and it's absolutely worth noting that "Good Lovin'" contained a lengthy jam on Olivia Newton-John & John Travlota's "Summer Nights" from the 1978 hit film Grease. A "Good Lovin' Reprise" then transitioned to Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" (another JRAD debut). "Cumberland Blues" made for some great late night foot stomping and even featured another "Slipknot" tease, before Hamilton absolutely ripped into "Terrapin Station." Midway through this masterpiece came a jam on "The Other One," and the remaining layers of the "Terrapin Suite" were as much as we could have asked for. Fingers were crossed for a "One More Saturday Night" encore, and while nearly nothing is predictable about this band, I couldn't have been more pleased to get that one right.
Those who made it this far through this article have most likely experienced JRAD in some shape or fashion. Having grown up listening to the Grateful Dead, and taking a special interest in the Benevento/Russo Duo in high school, this band had my attention with its inception nearly four years ago. Ever since catching the late night sets at LOCKN' 2016, I haven't been able to stop listening to these guys. They absolutely stole that weekend for me personally, and that takes nothing away from the performances from Phish, My Morning Jacket, Phil & Friends, and others. Last weekend at Brooklyn Bowl only reaffirmed that Joe Russo's Almost Dead is one of the most electrifying, creative bands of our time. They take the music of the Dead, add their own creative touch, and legitimately take things to another level. This experience with this band in its home venue was one that I'll never forget. And if you're still reading, keep a close eye on those future tour dates and make JRAD a top priority.
Watch JRAD perform "Good Lovin'" here:
Setlists via Joe Russo's Almost Dead Official Facebook Page
Setlist: Joe Russo's Almost Dead - Brooklyn Bowl - 03.09.17
Set One: BIODTL @, Bertha #, Mama Tried -> Help On The Way -> Slipknot! -> Throwin’ Stones Jam $ -> New Minglewood Blues %, Ramble On Rose, Keeping It Simple ^
Set Two: Music Never Stopped & -> Third Stone From The Sun Jam * -> Music Never Stopped Reprise + > Row Jimmy @@ -> Crazy Fingers -> Estimated Prophet -> Jack Straw -> Morning Dew
@ – 100 Beat – Beat It On Down The Line
# – With a “Shortnin’ Bread” (James Whitcomb Riley) tease (MB)
$ – First Time Played By Almost Dead
% – With Throwin’ Stones Teases / Jams (Band)
^ – Almost Dead Original, Written by JR & TH, First Time Played
& – With an “Ode to Billy Joe” (Bobbie Gentry) Tease (SM)
* – Jimi Hendrix original, First Time Played By Almost Dead
+ – Not played by Almost Dead since Suwannee Hulaween, 10.29.15, a gap of 49 shows
@@ – Proceeded by a significant Wharf Rat Tease / Jam – may become a separate track based on length. Also with a Throwin’ Stones Tease
Setlist: Joe Russo's Almost Dead - Brooklyn Bowl - 03.10.17
Set One: Don't Ease Me In, Women Are Smarter -> China Cat Sunflower -> Feel Like A Stranger @, Mississippi Half Step -> Lost Sailor -> Saint Of Circumstance #
Set Two: Greatest Story Ever Told $ -> Moby Dick % -> Music Never Stopped Reprise Reprise ^ -> Greatest Story Ever Told Reprise &, Candyman -> Uncle Johns Band -> Stella Blue Jam * -> He’s Gone + -> The Wheel @@ -> St. Stephen Jam -> So Many Roads ##, Sugar Magnolia/Sunshine Daydream
Encore: Ripple $$ (TH) > US Blues %%
- @ – With an “Apache” (Jerry Lordan) Tease (MB)
- # – With a Terrapin Jam (may become a separate track), Ruben & Cherise Teases (TH) & an “Eleanor Rigby” (The Beatles) Tease (TH)
- $ – With a Black Throated Wind Jam (may become a separate track)
- % – Unfinished (no drum solo). Led Zeppelin Cover, not played since 2015-04-22 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN, a gap of 79 shows
- ^ – First Time Played by Almost Dead, included lyrics
- & – Not played since 2015-02-17 State Theater, Portland, ME, a gap of 84 shows
- * – First Time Played by Almost Dead, included a short He’s Gone Jam
- + – With a “Stranger Things” (Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein from the band Survive) tease (MB). Yes, the Netflix series Stranger Things.
- @@ – With “The Simpsons Theme” (Danny Elfman) teases (SM & DD) & Terrapin Teases (TH & MB)
- $$ – Not played since 2015-12-31 The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA, a gap of 42 shows
- %% – Not played since 2013-01-26 Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, a gap of 100 shows. Dave broke a string on the Alembic & played his Gibson SG
Setlist: Joe Russo's Almost Dead - Brooklyn Bowl - 03.11.17
Set One: Jam @ -> Cassidy # -> Let It Grow Jam ->
Born Cross Eyed Jam $ -> Tennessee Jed % -> Jam %% -> Chuckles ^ -> Tequila & -> Chuckles Reprise ^ -> Big River > Box Of Rain, Althea (TH) * > Throwing Stones (SM)
Set Two: Deal > Good Lovin + -> Summer Nights Jam @@ -> Good Lovin’ Reprise -> Heartbreaker Jam ## -> Cumberland Blues $$ -> Terrapin Station -> The Other One Jam -> Terrapin Suite ^^
Encore: One More Saturday Night (SM)
@ – With a China>Rider Transition Jam Tease (TH)
# – Unfinished
$ – With “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (Bob Dylan) Teases (Band)
% – With a Spoonful Tease (SM) & a lengthy Marco Solo that included “Chopsticks” that could become its own track
%% – With “Big River” teases
^ – WOLF!! Original, First Time Played By Almost Dead
& – The Champs Original, First Time Played By Almost Dead
* – With a “So What” (Miles Davis) Tease (SM) & a full band “All of my Love” (Led Zeppelin) Jam that could become its own track
+ – With a back & forth between Marco & Scott that teased numerous jazz standards including “St. Thomas” (Sonny Rollins) & “Four” (Miles Davis)
@@ – Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta / Grease Soundtrack Original, (AKA Summer Lovin’ – written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey). First Time Played By Almost Dead
## – Led Zeppelin Original, First Time Played By Almost Dead
$$ – With a “Heartbreaker” (Led Zeppelin) Tease (DD) & a Slipknot! Jam (Band)
Joe Russo's Almost Dead Offers HD Webcasts Of Brooklyn Bowl Residency March 9, 2017 09:55
Photo by Keith Griner: Phierce Photo
Just under four years ago, Joe Russo's Almost Dead made its debut at the famed Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, New York. This weekend, the band begins the first of two three-night runs, with tonight's show marking the 100th show for the Grateful Dead-inspired super group. The usual lineup for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead features drummer Joe Russo, guitarists Scott Metzger and Tom Hamilton, keyboardist Marco Benevento and bassist Dave Dreiwitz. This usual lineup will perform this first weekend's shows (March 9 – 11), while next weekend Dead & Company bassist Oteil Burbridge will sub for Dreiwitz, when Almost Dead returns to Brooklyn Bowl March 16 – 18.
Fortunately for Dead Head nation, JRAD has partnered with nugs.tv to offer full HD webcasts for all six performances. For all of the specific details and various packages, make sure to head over to the nugs.tv official website. If you're not yet familiar with JRAD, make sure to check out their scorching take on "Scarlet Begonias" > "Fire On The Mountain" from Brooklyn Bowl on October 5th, 2015 below. We strongly recommend watching all the way through, in order to catch the absolutely outrageous solo from Benevento.
Watch JRAD perform "Scarlet Begonias" > "Fire On The Mountain" here:
McLovins Discuss New Album, Life After School, Playing with Perpetual Groove October 2, 2015 10:49
It's no secret that we are big fans of McLovins. We were lucky enough to learn about these guys when they blew up the internet at age 15. Since that time in 2009, the band has released two EP's and four full length albums, while touring the country and balancing their education simultaneously. On Monday, October 5th, the band will release their 5th studio album, McLovins. We caught up with the guys last night while they traveled to Columbus, Ohio for tonight's show at Scarlet & Grey Cafe to all of the latest scoop.
McLovins: Jake Huffman, Jason Ott, Justin Berger, Atticus Kelly
Interview by Jordan Kirkland - Live & Listen
After six years of playing and touring while balancing academics, school is finally out of the way. How excited are you guys to focus strictly on the music?
Justin: It's basically like a whole new life. We're ready to make this work. It's everything that we want to do, so all of our focus is being put into touring, the album, the music... everything that involves the live show.
Atticus: Plus we get to hit the markets that we weren't able to hit when people were in school. For example, a market like Syracuse, that has a big college population that wouldn't be there while we were playing. So it really opens things up a bit.
Jake: Definitely. We're all about this being a marathon and not a sprint. We're all in this for the long haul. We have a legit five year plan for this thing, and we're all super excited just to get out and do this.
The new self-titled album drops on Monday, October 5th. Every new release is big for any band, but this one seems like it could be a real turning point for the band. Tell me about the preparation and recording process this go-round.
Jake: This time was much different than anything we've every tackled musically. The way we wrote these songs; the structure and the form of these songs was very calculated. There are a lot of drafts, versions, and demos that we did. A lot of the time we would write out the song, then jam it out, listen to it, and critique it. We'd then go back to the drawing board, and sometimes change the entire song and rebuild from the ground up. You can definitely tell when you listen to the record that it's a departure from what we've done before. It's a more mature step into the future for us musically.
Atticus: It's certainly calculated, but I think we went to great lengths to make sure that it still sounded organic, and didn't sound calculated. We had a lot of help from our producer, Bill Sherman, who is just about as qualified as they come to do anything musically, so that really helped. It was also the first time that we really had a true producer on an album. It used to be, especially in the early days, that we would go in and play live. We might do a few overdubs and whatnot, but this time we went in and so much of the feedback came from Bill. Just in that process, we really learned how to take notes from a producer and how to change the music. Ultimately, I think it made the songs a lot tighter and more easily accessible to people.
Jake: It's funny, you know? It's a much different album than the "jam band" that we have created, in the sense that the length of the songs are a lot shorter. I like to think that we took the part of the jam band that is very versatile and genre standing, and we made a very eclectic album. All the tracks are very different. It ranges from like country, to hard rock, to some funk. I think we did a pretty great job of making it a very well rounded album, but we kept the integrity of the songwriting, which I think is a little bit different than what some jam bands are going for right now. We're very excited for everyone to hear it.
Next Friday, the band returns to Brooklyn Bowl, one of the country's premier intimate venues. This time things are a little different. You're supporting Perpetual Groove on their highly anticipated reunion tour. How did this combo come together?
Justin: Well we're lucky that Jake has a nice personal connection with Brock (Butler), and they've shared a good bit of music and lyrics recently. And then their keyboardist, Matt McDonald, is actually a fan of one of my high school bands, somehow. I have no idea how that happened. There's quite a few small connections that helped these shows come together and help this relationship build.
Jake: I used to listen to Perpetual Groove when I first got my driver's license. I'd blast their music with the windows down. It's pretty incredible that now we're about to share the stage with them. I feel like it's such a good fit for us to open up for them. We're all super excited about it. It's gonna be a crazy night. We're actually doing two shows with them. We'll be with them in Denver in December. These are definitely two of the most anticipated shows in the history of our band.
I'm sure each tour has its theme with certain music that gets played in the van. Who seems to be in the lead so far on this tour?
Atticus: Normally, I'd say it would be me, but with this most recent run we had a bigger trailer, which opened up some extra room in the van. So I of course claimed the most comfortable seat, far away from the radio. So that didn't end up working out. But speaking of musical themes, we have closed every show on this run so far with
"Ophelia" by The Band, which has been interesting. We keep getting it more and more correct. Maybe someday we'll get it perfect.
Jake: As far as music played in the band, I think it's been different everytime we've jumped in there. Sometimes, it's been a little country. Sometime's its hip hop. Sometimes its...Twiddle (laughs). It has no rhyme or reason. That's for sure.
Listen to "Talk About It" and "Gold In The World" by McLovins
2016 will clearly be a big year for you guys. First full year out of school, as well as supporting an album which will still be very fresh. What kind of goals does the band have for the new year?
Jake: We're definitely going to try and get our show count upwards up 150, maybe 200 shows. I don't know if we'll actually make that mark, but that's the mindset we have going in. We're gonna play, play,play.
Atticus: Road warriors status!
Jake: We're gonna really tour this album out and really get our sound out there. We're gonna try to go into this with no strings attached and make as big of a splash as possible. Hopefully, people can feel the ripples in the water.
Jason: Definitely want to get more people out to our shows. I think we're gonna be focusing on that more. I don't mean that in a bad way, but we're trying to hit some new markets, take chances. Ultimately, keep coming to those markets and try to see real growth in 2016.
Atticus: I think that will really start to happen when we push the album and start embracing the sound of the new album, which we're actively doing. I think that the buzz will buzz itself.
We're exicted to bring McLovins back to Alabama in this Fall. They'll play the Blueberry Jam Sessions on November 22nd, along with The Revivalists, Earphunk, and Maradeen, They will also play Funksgiving on November 22nd, along with Robert Randolph & The Family Band and BYOG.