_Photo by Raffaela Kenny-Cincotta_

Even though the weekend had some rain (and even more mud), the ninth annual Domefest returned to Bedford, Penn., with host band Pigeons Playing Ping Pong performing five sets over three days.

“We’ve given everything we have, and then you guys reflect it right back to us and it warms our hearts every single year,“ lead singer Greg Ormont told the sold-out crowd on Saturday night, adding that it was the biggest Domefest ever.

Looking back over the past three days, the band played a wide range of material, even digging into their back catalogue. Their single set offering on night one fit perfectly into the “Throw Back Thursday” theme, with long dormant tunes like “Where Are We Going” (last played 10/05/2011), “Candy” (5/09/2012) and “Dutchmaster” (last played 7/13/2011) making their first appearance in years. Night one was also the birthday of Domefest “Founding Father” and PPPP lead guitarist Jeremy Schon, who could be seen all weekend walking around the festival grounds helping out with logistics. The crowd sang him a spirited version of “Happy Birthday” at the opening of their Thursday night set.

After a particularly rainy day two, featuring sets by bands like Flux Capacitor and Broccoli Samurai, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong returned to the main stage with a lively, opening “Upfunk.” It quickly became apparent, however, that lead singer Ormont was shying away from the microphone. “Somewhere walking around the festival, I lost my voice,” he told the audience, sounding raspy. Thankfully, the band was able to adapt and thrive under these unforeseen circumstances, with drummer Alex Petropulos singing a version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and the horn section of West End Blend sitting in for the last five songs of set one.

The true Friday night highlight came with the band’s single-song set two; for over an hour, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong segued in and out of their song “Whirled.” (This marked the second time the band ever played a single song set, the first being on 4/15/18, when they played a 60+ minute “Funk E. Zekiel”). “Sometimes you gotta roll with the punches,” Ormont said afterwards with a grin.

On the festival’s final day, Ormont was scheduled to perform a solo “Scrambled Greg” set, and he did so without singing. Instead he held up signs, telling the audience “I’m Scrambled Greg, I’m saving my voice, so I’m just gonna jam.” He looped some guitar lines with pre-recorded drum patterns and also treated fans to a tap dance.

A few hours later, it was time for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s final set. When Ormont took the stage, fans held their breath, wondering if he had regained his voice. Thankfully, he did and the band performed favorites like “Melting Lights,” “Penguins” and “Henrietta.”

Set two kept the positive vibes coming with The Lion King’s “Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and a expansive “Walk Outside” jam containing the silly ode to fromage “Say Cheese.” Things got truly emotional, however, when the band performed “Dome People” (which was written about the festival) and later dipped into their crescendoing, feel-good number “Horizon.”

“This beautiful view I have is all of our happy place,” Ormont said looking out over the crowd before “Horizon” peaked. “If you ever wonder what our happy place is, it’s set five at Domefest looking at a sold out crowd of people taking care of each other. We’re not done, I just got to tell you how much we love you, we love the Flock. We’re just getting started with Domefest, we’re just getting started with Pigeons, and we just thank you for being yourselves and bringing your friends.”

After Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” PPPP closed with a sing-along of “Julia,” and the party continued on the B-stage with longtime Domefest late-night band The Fritz. Music continued well past sunrise, and as members of the band’s Flock pushed their cars out of the mud Sunday morning, and headed home, there was no doubt Domefest 9 was a rousing success.

Check out each night’s setlist below:

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
May 17, 2018
Domefest, Bedford, PA

Set I: Happy Birthday, Time To Ride, Havana > Spacejam > The Hop > F.U., Hakuna Matata > Burning Up My Time > Where Are We Going^, Fun In Funk, Sublime Medley& > Offshoot, Candy% > Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It > [email protected], Ocean Flows

Enc: Zydeko > Tale As Old As Time > Zydeko

Notes:
Theme: Throwback Thursday
^: Last time played 10/05/2011
&: Badfish, 54-46, Caress Me Down mashup
%: Last time played 5/09/2012
@: Last time played 7/13/2011 .

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Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
May 18, 2018
Domefest, Bedford, PA.

Set I: Upfunk, Too Long > Totally, Poseidon >King Kong > Purple Haze > King Kong, White Rabbit^ > Schwanthem& > Colors Of The Wind&> Schwanthem&, Fortress&, Doc&

Set II: Whirled%

Enc: Avalanche

Notes:
Theme: Flower Power Friday
^: Gator on vocals, last time played 3/06/2013
&: with West End Blend horns
%: 60+ minute version

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Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
May 19, 2018
Domefest, Bedford, PA

Set I: J-Town > Melting Lights > Shiny > Penguins > Funkijam > Skipjack, Henrietta, Porcupine, Couldn’t We All, Dawn A New Day

Set II: Funk E Zekiel^ > Drums > Just Can’t Wait To Be King, Walk Outside > Say Cheese > Walk Outside, Dome People > Su Casa > Horizon, White Night > Shine On You Crazy Diamond% > White Night, The Liquid

Enc: Julia > Super Mario > Julia

Notes:
Theme: Super Shiny Saturday
^ – Unfinished
% – First time played