Written by Adam Newcomer
There are few days out of the year that I find myself having little to no trouble waking up. Many would say a birthday or Christmas day would rationalize this, but it is in fact New Years Eve that comes to mind, and this New Years Eve was no exception.
I woke early that morning knowing that in just a couple hours I would be on my way down to Richmond, Virginia to see a band that I have seemingly grown with throughout recent years, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. They would be ringing in the New Year with Richmond’s own, The Shack Band, and to stir it up a bit, the night’s theme would be dubbed “Alice in One-Hit-Wonderland.” To the surprise of many Baltimore-ians, Pigeons had moved their New Year’s party down to the Broadberry in Richmond after having had several previous NYE runs at Baltimore’s own The 8×10. Although the move was somewhat unexpected, this would prove to be a very special NYE show for the flock as it would be drummer Dan Scwartz’s last New Years with the band, and he would go on to play his last show just 3 nights later.
I arrived at the Broadberry a little later than planned, but I walked in just in time to hear The Shack Band tearing it up. Every time I see these guys they are getting better and better, and this show only continued that trend. Insanely high peaking jams and spot-on covers that included a chillingly good “Bittersweet Symphony” made for a fantastic opening set by The Shack Band. At this point I was fired up and ready to get down. Pigeons proceeded to come on stage and hit the ground running. The crowd was hooked immediately with a “Whoopie” opener that had the chant “Richmond do that funk!” being sung throughout. “Julia” was next and gave a slight breather to the crowd, but midnight was fast approaching. I was watching the clock get closer when notes of “2001: A Space Odyssey” started to shine through, and before I knew it The Shack Band was on stage with Pigeons bringing in the New Year with “2001.” Truly epic and personally, this was the highlight of the night. The first set would then be weaved with great jams and one-hit-wonders to truly establish the night’s theme. In between classic Pigeon’s songs like “Julia”, “Moonwalk”, and “Live It Up”, one-hit-wonders like “Butterfly” and “99 Red Balloons” found their way into the mix. The boys even threw a mash up of “Relax” and “Rapper’s Delight” into the first set. My only question was how the second set could get any more one-hit-wonder-filled… but it did.
Second set came out swinging with “Burning Up My Time”, and then all of the sudden, the one-hit-wonders came back in full force with Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” being thrown right in the middle of the jam. This led into a dose of Pigeon favorites with the beautiful “Horizon” and the fun, get-down “Landing” to follow up. “Landing” then led into a slew of one-hit-wonder favorites, “Landing> Groove is in the Heart> Blue> Drunk People> Lovefool> Drunk People” to be exact. “Spacejam> The Hop> F.U.” came around just in time to bring everyone back into funk-mode. Next up, The Spin Doctor’s “Two Princes” led into the closing jam of “Julia” to wrap up the second set, but the music would not stop. How do you end an epically awesome New Year’s show? With an epically awesome encore. The encore started off slow with the first song being “Closing Time”, but as the song came to a close, the energizing, space, trance intro of “Schwanthem” broke through the sound and brought the full-fledged dance party right back. To top off the night of one-hit-wonders, the boys threw “What is Love?” right in the middle of “Schwanthem” to fully complete the dance party. Ending the night on high energy is a must, and this encore did exactly that.
So another New Years Eve with my local favorites was complete and it left me with seemingly more energy after the show than I had when I arrived. New Years Eve might be one of the easiest days to wake up for me, but after a show like this, New Years Day is always the hardest.