Once a band that started out as fun a way to pass the time, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has evolved into a full-time project for the group of modern-day pranksters from Baltimore. Known equally for their goofy onstage antics, infectious smiles and impressive improvisational jams, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong are on a mission to bring an unforgettably fun live performance from coast to coast. We sat down with lead singer Greg Ormont before the band’s stop at Boulder Theater on October 18 and 19 to discuss their humble beginnings, cult-like fan base and Ormont’s attraction to Colorado.
303 Magazine: There’s clearly a strong element of fun and a playful demeanor during the live performances, was that something that happened naturally or something you curated over time?
Greg Ormont: Well, we started this project for fun. We started in college and it was just to pass the time and goof off together and write songs that we thought were fun, and it really developed into a career I’m happy to say. That element of fun is something we never lost. It’s something that happened naturally and now we’re just kind of leaning into it a bit more. And you know, what better thing to lean into — because fun sure is fun.
303: I would say your fans agree. Why do you think you guys attracted such a devoted group of followers, affectionately known as “The Flock?”
GO: We’re very fortunate to have the fan base that we have. On the West Coast we currently have some fans that are touring with us every single night — starting in Arkansas and Texas — and now we’re in California. That type of following, when the same people are going to every show, it really inspires us to put on a unique performance every single night. Which is really great. I think that fun is contagious, and we really try to put on a fun show. Smiling is contagious in life, if you smile at someone crossing the street they will smile back, so if you can amplify that on stage, I have the opportunity to smile at a few thousand people at once. If they take the bait and start smiling, that contagious kind of atmosphere is probably what led to The Flock’s rabid nature, because like I said, fun sure is fun, and it’s a good thing to chase. The more you’re smiling, the more you want to have other people smile.
303: Are you able to carry the same positive vibe both on and off stage?
GO: We love each other, we’re a family. It’s just gone from friends to brothers and with that comes fun, comes argument, comes [an] appreciation for each other. It comes with flexibility for the different types of people we are and accepting each other for who we are. It takes time, but it really is a family vibe. We pour ourselves into our music, our touring, our strategy, and I personally make it a point to pour myself into my personal life just as much.
303: That’s no easy feat when you’re constantly on the road. I know you guys have spent a lot of time across the country, but what is your opinion of Denver?
GO: We love a lot of the same things that have attracted everyone else to the state, it’s obviously very liberal, and there’s just like an embedded hippie culture there. I remember my first time going to Colorado — I described it as a festival. [Denver] felt like a music festival, the crowds were so open to checking out new music. The people I come in contact with like spreading their horizons in every sense of the word and they are just very welcoming and open. As an up-and-coming band, not everyone is going to know your music, but Colorado, even if they didn’t know our music, they get our vibe and they just went balls to the wall with it. There’s no hesitation to get down and dance and be weird and be fun and be funky and roll with the punches out there. I love Colorado — it’s probably my favorite state.
303: We’re glad to hear you feel the same way about Colorado — we’re looking forward to your two-night run Boulder. Do you have any surprises up your sleeve for that weekend?
GO: We have tons of surprises in store, but we can’t share any of it because they wouldn’t be surprises! We love multi-night runs, it gives us a nice opportunity to let our hair down, so to speak, and really air it out. It gives us twice as much time to pack the punches, plan surprises and keep it unique. It’s a fun challenge to keep both shows interesting and keep the fans on their toes. We like to put on a different experience every single night. We appreciate Colorado so much because it was the furthest west we had ever been when we first starting touring, and they really supported us right off the bat, so we want to give back to that community with some crazy concert experiences. Come out to Boulder, put on your party hat (literally — let’s all wear party hats) and flip that venue upside down.
Make sure to catch Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at their two-night run at Boulder Theater, October 18 and 19.