Pigeons and Friends Flock to Asheville for a Space Disco

All images by Sasha Savinov of gratefulgypsies.com

Happy New Year, SCampers! Camp Counselor Sasha here finally back on Earth after ringing in the New Year at a space disco. It was an out-of-this-world party to say the very least and I’m here to tell you all about it!

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong once again flocked south for the winter to celebrate NYE in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. They brought some friends along with other Summer Camp artists Keller Williams, Funk You, and Here Come the Mummies. Here’s what went down in the Land of the Sky over the course of their 2-night run.

Night One at the Orange Peel

Just as they did on their last NYE run in 2019, Pigeons kicked things off on the 30th at the Orange Peel. This downtown Asheville venue only fits about 1,000 people, making for a more intimate show before the big blowout at the arena.

We were actually supposed to be in Atlanta from the 28th-31st to see a night of Widespread Panic followed by two with STS9. When those shows got rescheduled, we worried the same would happen with the Pigeons run. They decided to go on with the shows, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Personally, I was excited to end the year with some more live music. My wife and I spend a lot of time in Asheville, and it was great having a NYE run minus flights and hotels. We decided to hit the show on the 30th when our trip down to Atlanta was nixed, and boy are we glad we did!

Prior to the show, a bunch of Flockers were hanging out at the Wicked Weed brewery next door to the venue. We popped in to say hi to some friends, grab a few brews, and cheer on my Spartans in the Peach Bowl. The boys in green & white ended up pulling it off as well, only adding to the fun of the night.

After getting my credentials and our wristbands, we made our way into the show. It was our first time seeing Pigeons since they rang in 2020 here in Asheville, which feels like a lifetime ago. We were all smiles under our masks when the band hit the stage around 9.

“Feelin’ Fine” was a solid choice to get the festivities started, as that definitely summed up the vibe in the room. Guitarist and singer “Scrambled” Greg Ormont was clearly stoked to be back on stage as he sang this feel-good tune to a room full of shiny, happy Flockers.

I love the song “Melting Lights” and was happy to get that in the first set as well. This one featured a nice segue into “Twitch” that had the whole room grooving. Guitarist Jeremy Schon reminded us all that we should be dancing with his infectious licks and badass Dee Gees t-shirt.

The theme for the weekend was Arena 54 – an arena show that was a mix of Area 51 and Studio 54. Bassist Ben Carrey was definitely jazzed up for the space disco theme. As someone who also loves dressing up for the occasion, I appreciate his many wardrobe changes throughout the evening. He even rocked the same sequined rainbow pants that I bought just for NYE. Game recognize game!

 

We didn’t even have to wait for NYE to get launched into outer space, as the band busted out a cover of “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” more commonly known as “2001.” We’re used to seeing a certain group from Vermont play this one, but had never seen the P4 guys tackle it before.

They absolutely crushed it and really set the tone for the run with the dance party that it turned into. It melted into the P4 original “Donkey Hotel” to bring the first stanza to a close.

After running around snapping pictures during the first set, I worked up quite a thirst. Thankfully heady local beers are still only $7 here – one of the many things I love about seeing shows in Asheville.

The band came back on and pricked our collective fingers with a set-opening “Porcupine.” There would be no time to recover from this wound, as we all “Hit the Ground Runnin'” before exploring new a new “Horizon” together.

This is definitely one of the quintessential Pigeons songs and a personal favorite of mine. Looking around the crowd, it was clear that most people shared the sentiment. It was great getting to celebrate with the people we love at the end of this crazy year.

 

If you thought we’d get a breather after that, you were horribly mistaken. It’s a good thing I laced up my dancing shoes because a massive cover of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” followed. The Orange Peel was actually a disco back in the day, and it turned into one again on this particular night.

After a run through “Avalanche,” the second set concluded with a tasty “Upfunk” sandwich. Drummer Alex “Gator” Petropulos provided the meat of this funktastic sammy with a huge drum solo in the middle.

“A Day in Time” popped up in the encore slot to send us all off into the foggy Asheville evening, ending a solid 2-set show on a high note. Here’s the setlist from the band’s Facebook page:

December 30, 2021 @ The Orange Peel (Asheville, NC)

I: Feelin’ Fine, Bad For You, Fortress, Melting Lights > Twitch, Landing > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Donkey Hotel

II: Porcupine, Hit The Ground Runnin’ > Horizon > Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough > Avalanche, Upfunk > Drums > Upfunk

E: Day In Time

NYE Space Disco

We spent the last day of the year mostly lounging around the house. With three bands and a 7-hour show on tap for the night, we had to save all the energy we could.

We packed up our costumes for the evening’s festivities and headed to a friend’s place to pre-game a bit. Lucky for us, our buddy offered to be our DD for the night so we could rage. Thanks, Jesse!

While I’m always down to dress up, I was definitely a bit concerned that this show was going to get canceled (as so many other NYE shows did). As such, we waited until the absolute last minute to put together our outfits for the space disco. I think we did a pretty awesome job…

I’m not always one to rush to a show for the opener, especially when there are two. I’ll definitely make an exception when it’s a band as good as Funk You kicking things off, though!

My old college buddy Jake is their tour manager and it’s been a blast getting to hang with them a bunch this year, including at SCamp. Be sure to check out my interview with the band in their RV in case you missed it.

They were nice enough to hook us up with backstage access for the show. Thanks a bunch, dudes! We got there right on time to see them hit the stage promptly at 7. I was happy to see so many people decided to show up early to check them out. Don’t sleep on Funk You if they come to your town!

It was a solid opening set that featued a guest appearance by none other than Keller Williams. He joined the band for a take on the Grateful Dead’s “West LA Fadeaway” which was a nice treat.

The one-man band was up next with a solo set. He had his usual setup with multiple guitars and pedals for a loop-tastic set. I’m a Keller fan for sure, but having seen him a ton of times I volunteered to help the Funk You guys out by working their merch table.

It was actually pretty fun getting to chat with people who stopped by to grab a shirt or poster. Plus, it was the least I could do for them after they got us in the show. I still managed to catch a bit of Keller’s set from our perch up in the balcony and it was solid as per usual.

There were also a bunch of live artists in action, including our Asheville friend Spero Art. It’s always fun watching live painters at work getting moved by the music, and even cooler when it’s one of your friends!

They didn’t have the upper level open for this show, but the floor started to fill in as the Pigeons hour approached. People went all out with the space disco theme and there were some pretty amazing costumes out there. Props to the band for coming up with such a fun idea for a NYE show!

P4 finally hit the stage at 10, wearing some pretty rad matching outfits for the occasion. I’m not even going to try to do a play-by-play of this setlist, as it was absolutely insane with all the teases, mash-ups, and guest appearances.

What I will say is that this was a freaking party from the get-go and it went all the way until 1:30! The horns from Here Come the Mummies joined the party early on for a “Too Long” that had a cover of the Bee Gees “You Should Be Dancing” in the middle.

The first set also had a tease of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” that segued into a disco version of “Rocket Man.” That was tons of fun and the party just kept rolling from there.

My personal highlight of the first frame was a cover of Jamiroquai’s “Cosmic Girl” back into the Pigeons original “Let the Boogie Out.” And that’s precisely what we did!

A massive run through “Ocean Flows” featured “Walking On the Moon” by the Police in the middle to close out the 80-minute set. During the final setbreak of the year, we hung out in the green room drinking Wicked Weed IPAs and taking goofy photos.

 

With the clock approaching midnight, we all got ready to bid farewell to 2021. Pigeons wasted no time and immediately brought the heat to the last set of the year with “Poseidon.” This song is so much fun to see live as they always jam it out, and this night was no different.

“Burning Up My Time” got the nod as the last song of the year. The scent in the arena told me that it wasn’t just time people were burning as we headed into the New Year. The traditional “Auld Lang Syne” mashed up with Bowie’s “Starman” welcomed in 2022, featuring a full-blown alien invasion led by Keller.

The Mummies came back on stage and Funk You‘s percussion section also joined the fun. With all the alien dancers, there were probably 20 people on stage for the midnight shenanigans. It was so ridiculous and such a fun way to kick off 2022.

At this point in the night, we were locked in and fully immersed in the vibes of the space disco. “Kung Fu Fighting” had a little “Macho Man” thrown in for good measure, which set the stage for the forthcoming “That’s the Mashup” – a run through several disco hits that had the whole arena putting on their boogie shoes.

I definitely felt the love during the “Julia”/”I Feel Love” portion of the set. People are always hating that song but I freaking love it. Perhaps the highlight of the set, though, was the massive cover of the theme to the X-Files that followed. The truth is out there, and it’s that Pigeons threw the best party in the galaxy this NYE!

When the space dust finally settled on all the mashups, the band busted into “Schwanthem” to close the set in rowdy fashion. After a quick encore break, the marathon show came to a close with “Doc,” once again featuring the Mummies on horns.

Wow, just wow. I’m glad I didn’t even try keeping a setlist for this one! Here’s the official one from the band’s FB page:

December 31, 2021 @ ExploreAsheville.com Arena (Asheville, NC)

Set 1 (10-11:20pm): Distant Times > Too Long* > You Should Be Dancing^* > Too Long* > Shine On You Crazy Diamond” > Rocket Man^ > Distant Times, King Kong*, Funk E Zekiel*# > Turn The Beat Around^*# > Boogie Wonderland^*#” > Funk E Zekiel*#, Let The Boogie Out* > Let’s Groove*^” > Cosmic Girl*^$ > Let The Boogie Out*, Ocean Flows > Walking On The Moon^ > Ocean Flows

Set 2 (11:40pm-1:30am): Poseidon, Burning Up My Time& > Auld Lang Syne+ > Starman^+= > Auld Lang Syne+ > Kung Fu Fighting+*#!% > Macho Man^+*#!% > Kung Fu Fighting+*#!% > Unfunky UFO^+*%, That’s The Mashup^*\+ > Lightning*% > Le Freak*% > Lightning*%, Julia > I Feel Love^% > Julia, X-Files+ > The Hop > F.U.*+ > Good Times^*+ > Rapper’s Delight^*+% > Good Times*+ > F.U.*+ > Y.M.C.A.^*+ > Schwanthem

E: Doc*

Notes:
* w/ Here Come the Mummies horns
^ First time played
” Intro only
# w/ Will Foster & Palmer Owens (Funk You) on percussion
$ w/ Move On Up^ and Let’s Groove teases
& w/ Third Stone From The Sun tease; Countdown to NYE
+ w/ Alien invasion; Midnight feat. Keller Williams as alien overlord; Good Times feat. alien soul train
= Instrumental
! w/ Gnarly G & Josh Spilliards (Funk You) on horns
% w/ Keller Williams; Lightning feat. mouth trumpet battle
\ That’s The Way, Shake Shake Shake, Give It To Me Baby, Ring My Bell, Boogie Nights mashup

While most people scurried out of the arena, we hung out for a bit while the crew tore everything down. Serious props to everyone who worked so hard to put this show on. You guys are the real rock stars!

Speaking of rock stars, I even got to hang out with Ben from Pigeons for a bit. He’s a super cool guy and it was fun chatting music with him. We thanked him for two incredible New Year’s Eve runs here in Asheville and expressed our support for this becoming a tradition.

It was a great NYE run and yet another reminder of why I love Summer Camp so much. I discovered Pigeons Playing Ping Pong there back in 2018 and they quickly became one of my favorite bands. I’m now a proud card-carrying member of the Flock and always have a blast at their shows.

Until next time, SCampers – keep on flocking in the free world!

Camp Counselor Sasha

P.S. In case you missed it, Pigeons put the entire NYE show up on their YouTube channel: