Pigeons Playing Ping Pong: 2/1/2019

I was recently at a party at my friend Ilene’s house, and she asked me if I was familiar with this band. I told her I had never heard of them, and she told me they were really good, and that her and her husband had gotten some comp VIP passes and that they could get me one if I was interested. Far be it from me to turn down an opportunity to see a show for free. So they secured me a freebie and I listened to some of their stuff to familiarize myself with their music.

How to describe them? They are definitely a jam band, but they have a bit of a funk sound too. Their stuff is upbeat and danceable. I figured it would be a good time, and when I saw that the show was sold out, I suspected it would be pretty high-energy too.

I met Ilene and her husband Jonathan outside the venue. They got us the VIP wristbands, which allowed us to sit in the reserved section on the side of the stage. Not that it was really reserved. It was still pretty much open season for the freaks who chose to wedge themselves in there.

The opening act was a band called The Fritz. They are local, but very good. I had remembered a friend telling me about them. They were better than your average opener.

PPPP came on around 10ish, and they were pumped. Definitely feeding off the energy from the audience. And they played a looooooong time—finishing up about 1:00 am. Two solid sets and an encore. I was definitely feeling tired toward the end, but forced myself to stay until the end, which is a testament to how good they were.

In between sets, I ran into my friend Andy. I had not seen him in years, so it was a nice surprise. He had come into town specifically to see the band and was planning to see them the following night in Raleigh. I didn’t realize that following Pigeons was a thing, but I guess it is.

After the show, as I exited the venue to walk to my car, I was surprised to find people selling balloons full of nitrous oxide. Nitrous?! People still do that shit? I suppose some things never change in the jam-band scene. It made me think of a quote from the Netflix show, “Big Mouth”: “They’re jam bands. They’re the tools of Big Nitrous.”

Anyway, here’s the setlist, followed by a few pictures I snapped at the show. Rock on!

Set 1

  • Melting Lights >
  • Whirled
  • Penguins >
  • Funkijam >
  • Funk E. Zekiel
  • Fortress
  • Yo Soy Fiesta
  • J-Town
  • Poseidon >
  • Jessica >
  • Poseidon

Set 2

  • Live Life / Upfunk
  • Snake Eyes
  • Horizon >
  • I Wanna Be Like You >
  • Bare Necessities >
  • I Wanna Be Like You >
  • Horizon
  • Drunk People
  • Walk Outside
  • Ocean Flows

Encore:

  • Doc

 

The Fritz

 

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

 

PPPP w/ Jamar Woods from Fritz on keys
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Def Leppard and Ratt: 5/20/1983

I had seen Def Leppard open for Ozzy on the Blizzard of Ozz tour, which was cool. But “Pyromania” was the band’s mega-album, so this was a tour worth seeing.

My girlfriend at the time really wanted to go to the show, and I was totally down for it, especially for $10. I thought “Pyromania” was a great album, even though I could tell the band was going down the commercial pathway. And I was right, and to date, this would be my last time seeing them live.

I had no recollection of the opening act, but according to what I found online, Ratt was the opener. Hah! I went most of my life thinking I had avoided seeing Ratt in concert. I suppose it’s another band I can now check off the list.

Def Leppard definitely rocked. This show was a long time ago, so many of the details are gone, but I remember parts of it vividly, including the kick-ass version of Creedence’s “Travelin’ Band.” Glad I got to see them at their peak. Rock on!!

Setlist:

  • Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)
  • Rock Brigade
  • High & Dry (Saturday Night)
  • Another Hit and Run
  • Billy’s Got a Gun
  • Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)
  • Foolin’
  • Photograph
  • Rock of Ages
  • Bringin’ on the Heartbreak
  • Switch 625
  • Guitar Solo
  • Let It Go
  • Guitar Solo
  • Wasted
  • Stagefright
  • Travelin’ Band

Alice Cooper: 12/31/1998

What better way to rock in the New Year than with Alice Cooper, right? But wait – it gets even better. So the ticket says Row 2, which I have to say, I was pretty psyched about. But when my friend Jim and I arrived at the show, lo and behold, Row 2 was actually front row! So even though we were off on the side, we were still deep in the madness and mayhem, and we were graced by Alice’s presence when he slunk over to our side of the stage.

The theme of this show was kind of a psycho-circus motif. There were demented clowns providing Alice with his various implements of destruction, and just grinning menacingly like something out of a Stephen King novel.

There were some nice surprises in this show, notably “Public Animal #9,” a classic from the School’s Out album, and “Unfinished Sweet,” where the clowns shoved Alice into an Egyptian sarcophagus and skewered him with swords. Also, Alice made a nod to Elvis, one of his influences, by playing “Jailhouse Rock” for an encore, decked out in a sequined jacket and some fly shades.

There were so many high points at this show, it was basically just one long high point. From the first chords of “Hello Hooray” until the last note of “Under My Wheels,” it was all Killer and no filler.

Here’s the full setlist. Rock on!

Setlistlowns

  • Hello Hooray
  • Sideshow
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Public Animal #9
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • I’m Eighteen
  • From the Inside
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Steven
  • Halo of Flies
  • Nothing’s Free
  • Cleansed by Fire
  • Poison
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Unfinished Sweet
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Under My Wheels

Rodrigo y Gabriela: 3/15/2010

If you have not listened to this acoustic guitar duo, you need to. They are nothing short of amazing. As a guitarist, when I heard they were coming to town, I was psyched and immediately bought tickets. I went with my friend Joe and we got to the Orange Peel early enough to stake out a good spot.

They important thing about being a successful duo is that your playing really needs to complement your partner’s, and vice versa. Rodrigo and Gabriela do just that. Gabriela’s percussive rhythm is like a heartbeat that allows Rodrigo to spiral off into intricate Latin-influenced guitar solos. I left the show both awe-struck and inspired.

On the way out, Joe picked up a copy of the group’s current cd, “11:11.” He later gave it to me as a gift. I have to say, I listened to it extensively. Such a great album!

Sorry I could not find the setlist for this show online, but as a consolation, here is a YouTube video to check out and get a sense of this group’s amazing musicianship. Enjoy!

Rodrigo y Gabriela – ‘Tamacun’

Rush: 6/8/2011

I had seen Rush several times prior to this show, but my wife had never seen them so we decided to go and check them out. What was cool about this tour, dubbed the Time Machine Tour, was that they were performing the “Moving Pictures” album in its entirety. I had seen Rush on the “Moving Pictures” tour, but they did not play the entire album, so I was pretty psyched about seeing it performed.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the ticket says Comp, with a cost of $0.00. No, we did not get freebies. We had bought the cheapest seats way in the back corner near the last row. But when we got there, they upgraded us to better seats. I suppose they figured it was easier to close the section and move everyone in that area in with the rest of the rock and roll mass. Fine with me. I had no complaint there.

The band opened with “The Spirit of Radio,” and it was just an audio and visual treat for the rest of the night. They played two solid sets (second set included all of Moving Pictures), and a rockin’ encore. By the time the last note of “Working Man” faded to silence, I was totally rocked out.

This would be my last time seeing Rush. Unless they decided to come back out of retirement (something bands NEVER do), I don’t think I will have another opportunity to see them again. Here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • The Spirit of Radio
  • Time Stand Still
  • Presto
  • Stick It Out
  • Workin’ Them Angels
  • Leave That Thing Alone
  • Faithless
  • BU2B
  • Freewill
  • Marathon
  • Subdivisions

Set 2 (Moving Pictures):

  • Tom Sawyer
  • Red Barchetta
  • YYZ
  • Limelight
  • The Camera Eye
  • Witch Hunt
  • Vital Signs
  • Caravan
  • Closer to the Heart
  • 2112 Part I: Overture
  • 2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
  • Far Cry

Encore:

  • La Villa Strangiato
  • Working Man

Warren Haynes 30th Anniversary Christmas Jam – Second Night: 12/8/2018

The second night of the Christmas Jam was faced with a winter storm, which dumped significant snow on Asheville. Because of the expected difficulties, those who did not feel comfortable venturing out were given the option to stream the show from home. Since I live only about a mile from the venue, I of course went and brought a warm jacket so I could walk home afterwards.

I went with my friend Seth, and we grabbed some barbecue before heading over to the show. When we got there, I was elated to see throngs of scalpers desperately trying to sell off their tickets for below face value in a lame attempt to recoup some of their money. It makes me happy to see scalpers suffering and losing money. I have no sympathy for those vampires who feed off others.

Anyway, the second night boasted a stellar lineup of headline acts:

  • Joe Bonamassa
  • Jim James
  • Dave Grohl and Friends
  • Eric Church
  • Gov’t Mule

In addition, there were also the guest musicians who graced the stage on the first night of the Jam.

The show began with a collaboration of guest musicians jamming and warming up the crowd. That was followed by Joe Bonamassa, who I was probably the most excited to see. As a guitarist, I was eager to see the blues great perform live. He did not disappoint. After he played, all I could think was that I would hate to be a musician having to follow that guitarist. But, the rest of the show was right up there in caliber.

Sadly, my friend Seth left right after Bonamassa’s set. Snow was already piling up and he was concerned about not being able to make it home. Thankfully, I had other friends who were there, and I made the rounds, sitting with various friends throughout the evening.

There were many high points that night, but probably the best for me was when Gov’t Mule kicked off their set with Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” segueing into Hendrix’s “Machine Gun,” then back into “Rockin’ in the Free World,” with Dave Grohl playing guitar with them. UNBELIEVABLE! Here is a video recording on YouTube for those who are interested.

Not long after that, I decided to cut out a little early and start walking home. It was already past 1:00 am, and I knew it would be a cold trudge through the deep snow. But actually, it was kind of nice, in the surreal early morning darkness. Here is a picture I snapped on the walk home.

Here are the setlists from the headline acts. Hope you all have a rockin’ New Year, and may 2019 bring you lots of live music!

Setlists:

Joe Bonamassa:

  • Beck’s Bolero >
  • Rice Pudding
  • Spanish Boots
  • SWLABR
  • I Can’t Quit You Baby
  • How Many More Times

Jim James:

  • Just a Fool
  • Throwback
  • All Over the World
  • Here in Spirit
  • Over and Over
  • Better Get Together While Still Got Time
  • No Secrets
  • A New Life >
  • State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)

Dave Grohl:

  • Play
  • Times Like These (with Warren Haynes)
  • Everlong

Eric Church:

  • Desperate Man
  • Record Year
  • Carolina
  • Smoke a Little Smoke
  • Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More (with Warren Haynes)
  • Atlantic City (with Warren Haynes)
  • Diddy Wah Diddy (with Warren Haynes)
  • The Weight (with Warren Haynes)

Gov’t Mule:

  • Rockin’ in the Free World (with Dave Grohl) >
  • Machine Gun  (with Dave Grohl) (instrumental) >
  • Rockin’ in the Free World (with Dave Grohl)
  • Thorazine Shuffle
  • Revolution Come, Revolution Go
  • Million Miles From Yesterday
  • Dreams and Songs
  • Red Baron
  • Mule

Warren Haynes 30th Anniversary Christmas Jam – First Night: 12/7/2018

The Christmas Jam has become a holiday tradition for me. Every year since I moved to Asheville, NC, I have attended the Jam, and it is always great. This year, Warren held the Jam over two nights, which was consistent with the 20th and 25th. I, of course, planned on going both nights.

Ticket purchasing has become a challenge, even in the small city of Asheville. Scalpers and bots scoop up tickets and resell them through TicketMaster and scalper sites like Stub Hub, making it tough for fans to acquire tickets. For that reason, I went down early in the morning to the box office and was first in line. This proved advantageous, since the box office opened the window 5 minutes prior to when TicketMaster opened the online sales. I got reserved seats for both nights, and then found to my dismay that many of my friends who tried to buy online got shut out, all reserved seats gone in less than 2 minutes. The bots strike again! Now for my quick PSA—Scalpers are scum. No matter how much you want to see a show, don’t ever buy from a “verified reseller” for more than face value. As long as you do, these bottom feeders will continue to ruin music for all of us.

OK, stepping down from the soapbox and getting on with the show.

First night I went with my wife and daughter. The lineup was pretty solid. The headliners included:

  • Dark Side of the Mule
  • Grace Potter
  • Mike Gordon
  • Jamey Johnson
  • Marco Benevento

In addition, there were a bunch of guest musicians, including: Audley Freed, Jen Gunderman, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jimmy Vivino, Kevn Kinney, Mike Barnes, Robert Kearns, Ron Holloway, and Tyler Ramsey. There were others who were not announced. Sorry, but don’t remember them all.

The show went on until after 2:00 am, and I think this was the first time my wife made it to the very end. While the entire show was great, Dark Side of the Mule was by far the highlight. Gov’t Mule performed a long Pink Floyd set, complete with lasers and an incredible light show. It was a great way to end a marathon night of music.

The only negative about this night was Jamey Johnson. He was good, and I liked the music he played, but he was painfully loud. Now I am not one to shy away from loud music, so if I consider a band to be too loud, they are probably too loud. He obviously missed the memo that when playing country music, you do not need to turn the amps up to 11. Leave that setting for Spinal Tap.

I could not find all the setlists, but I found a few. I will add others if I find them. Also, I’m including a few pictures that I snapped. And for those who are interested, here is a video of Dark Side of the Mule, with the full on lasers.

Rock on, and check back soon for my post on the second night.

Setlists:

Marco Benevento

  • The Story Of Fred Short (Intro) >
  • Seven Twenty Two >
  • Walking With Tyrone
  • Live A Certain Life
  • Stay In Line
  • I Can’t See The Light >
  • Follow The Arrow
  • Band Introductions/Banter
  • Greenpoint
  • Pepper

Mike Gordon

  • Say Something
  • Whirlwind
  • Peel
  • Victim > Sweet Emotion
  • Pendulum
  • Wild and Blue
  • Do You Still Drink About Me
  • Crazy Sometimes

Grace Potter

  • Gold Dust Woman (w Warren Haynes and Jim James)
  • Medicine
  • Empty Heart
  • Not Fade Away > Stars
  • The Lion the Beast the Beat
  • Paris (Ooh La La)
  • I Shall Be Released

Dark Side of the Mule:

  • Pigs on the Wing 2
  • Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
  • Have a Cigar
  • Breathe
  • On the Run
  • Time
  • Breathe (Reprise)
  • The Great Gig in the Sky
  • Money
  • Us and Them
  • (with Jim James on lead vocals)
  • Any Colour You Like
  • Welcome to the Machine
  • One of These Days
  • Fearless
  • Echoes, Part 1
  • Comfortably Numb

Encore:

  • Wish You Were Here

 

Warren kicking off the show

 

Mike Gordon
Grace Potter
Dark Side of the Mule