Twiddle & Pigeons at the Boulder Theatre — 8/12/2017
The line is down the street and we’re talking to other fans in that line.
“Pigeons just walked in the door with all their stuff,” the crew in front of us says. “Their flight was delayed.”
But my mom used my second ticket so waiting outside isn’t too bad. It’s nice to have your mom to wait with. And it’s a gorgeous night of clear black dotted with stars. And I’ve never seen this. It’s after 9 and I’m still waiting in line to get in. Doors were at 8.
Salisbury, Maryland, at the little Italian restaurant, Vinnie’s, that’s where the crew in front of us is from, well maybe not from the restaurant. The restaurant’s where Pigeons used to play all the time, ages ago. They reminisce on going to school with the group and being in those small shows of 12 people. Incredible isn’t it? I imagine being a fly on the wall there. I’ve experienced it myself as the intimate crew of a small local band. But ours fell apart as most do. We’ll see where their new bands go from here. But I’m watching this crew in front of me, 2 girls decked out in the costume of the night, hippies, pinecone necklaces and slouchy clothes, and then the guy with them, a broad guy, strong, with thick brown beard like a bear. He asks what I’m doing writing and so I tell them about my writing at shows and what all this pen and page are all about.
As we turn the corner of 14th street the light of the sold out Boulder Theatre sign shines in our faces and lights the blankets and tables of nick-knacks. It’s turned into Shakedown Street out here. I smile at one salesman and look at his pins and sashes and crystals. The group in front of us whose names I never caught ask for a picture in front of the sign and my mom snaps it for them.
And moments pass before we are swept through the whirlwind of the front doors. The atmosphere is frantic. The music deeper in the theatre is fast and loud. I wait in the lobby for my mom, watching beautiful girls and then my mom plows ahead through the packed crowd of a sold out show. That’s where I got it from. I have to race to catch up as she makes her way to the front. And now we’re here, watching Pigeons.
They’re making faces on stage. I’m dumbstruck by the energy. I’m dumbstruck by the loudness of the sound. It’s muddled. Like the rainbow splash of colors on the faces of their fans, dancing together. Heads bouncing together like vibrating water molecules from my view at the front of the 2nd tier. Arms up. Screams that could fill an amphitheater at least 3 times this size. This group is … this group holds an expanse of energy that feels about to explode. The energy it flows with the song and they make it fluid despite the quick set up and less than stellar sound. But their own rushed experience comes out in the music, seeping through like emotion tends to do.
My mom dances hard beside me, like women a 3rd her age. She must have been wild in her 20s. She points out a guy wearing a giant chain around his neck, “I like that guy’s necklace … or did he forget to lock up his bike?”
The guitarist with the fro, Greg Ormont, pretends to fly flapping his arm and guitar as wings. Cheers and whistles die down to a sweeter guitar ring and then drop into some danceable songs.
I look down on the floor and see our friends from line shouting the lyrics and grooving like good consistent fans and family do.
They must have a large posse too for groups of people seem to float through the curtain and past security to back stage. The fans are a mix of wooks and hats and pinecone pendants. And some pretty typical looking folks. You know the kind who wear their normal clothes a plane t-shirt, jeans, a baseball cap.
The bassist, Ben Carrey, barefoot and bunned, puts his leg up and grooves. And the crowd loses their mind singing, “I think I’m losing my mind.” I sing too, watching long hair fly, both on stage and in the crowd. A quick bass line muted but there if you know what to look for carries us and the guitar along.
And it’s hot.
And I think my mom is dancing better than the best of them. She keeps checking her Fitbit. It’s one way to get your exercise. The song cools down with the lights and my mom claps along as it goes spacey … bassey …stroby … and chatty. Almost electronic. Almost transy. We turn into jellyfish. Floating until they drop us off into an odd terrestrial surface … a Martian beach. I look up at the flashing of the sun and my mom pulls me out of it with the whip of her hair in her signature hair spinning move. She bunches it up like a pony tail on the top of her head and helicopters her long hair around. We all throw our arms up.
“Disco music. Talking heads,” I hear two guys say to each other as if they know. The next song does have that kinda feel. Getting us sweating. Because no one isn’t dancing. Who’s no one anyways?
I watch as Jeremy Schon’s fingers run races across the neck of his guitar. Until Mario drops in. A tropical Mario. A playful Mario who drops back in his drain pipe and back into their song. And in high pitched pigeon chirps they peck out the lyrics.
“She liked the sand between her toes,” ”Juliet,” ”Julia?”
”The time lines all off it’s become Pigeons with a Twiddle after party,” says one of the guys behind me.
“I’m running naked through the jungle,” sings Ormont filling the space. Tripping us out by dropping us into some honky tonk. And back to quick ragey fast eccstaticism. I’m not sure that’s a word but I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced transitions like this either.
October 6th … They tell us they’ll be back … Twiddle after this song and then some “Twidgeon.” A feel good jammy song with some bass slapping, “Waitng for my chance to shine.” The band of 4 feels like one of us. Friends, people you know. With songs that bring you back to some of those magic moments in your life. The feel good moments, the one’s with perfect lighting. This is one. We jump with them. Stop and drop into more feel good trancy wompy jams that make you pause and wonder where you are. At all these show you’ve been to. The spacey chaos that gets your mind churning wondering what this place really is. Who these people all around you really are. And it trips into one of those moments where everyone is here together as one, a group, a crowd, a tribe, a mass of energy. And the song grows faster with the lights and rocks us. All together. Music herself is making an appearance here. Playing for us.
All hands go up as we cheer our appreciation for showing us the sound …
Set Brake seems long. We fill up on water. But finally they walk on stage to cheers. 4 guys. Keys, guitar, bass, drums. The sound is more refined. Crisp. Rockin’. Blue and purple lights reach out over their heads, over ours. Zdenek still wears that same striped hat biting his lip. And we move to the music smoothly like old lovers. Their band is calm, relaxed, like this is what they do and they didn’t have to race to get here. The bass rocks us, vibrates our hearts and our minds get lost in Mihali’s guitar. Dropping into the chimes of Ryan’s keys …
It’s smooth, cool, relaxed, eases the tension in your shoulders. They all smile cooly, relaxed … falling into the sound together.
They play around for a minute before falling down a cliff into the song. Quick … Lights on the ceiling twist and twirl along with the guy’s head below me and the arms of the guy to my right.
Some gangster ass bass playing, poppy and shit, it feels good to hear him slap that bass. Fuck! I mean if you’ve never seen that. We scream as he goes psycho on it, all of them dropping into a fast tempo’d crescendo, into a waterfall of chords and keys and drum beats. That was good. I make eyes with several amazed people. The lights go mystic rainbow as they take us there, building a road of song for us to follow on. I can’t dance. I just have to stop and watch. What a gangster ass band.
Mihali sings … and tells us a tale with only the voice of his guitar, taking us on a journey to a view of this is it, that feeling of “Ah!” I’m here. Moving forward and this is your life, turned cartoon land with lights and dancing and hippies and a bass line like stepping stones. Where are they taking us? Only wherever their hearts and the music of tonight feel like they should. Someone holds up a cabbage in the crowd shaking it and rocking it and Mihali breaks a string.
Together they drop down into mellow darkness as the other three continue to play and he switches guitars. Throbbing dark forests with lights that help put you there. But the music although dark is still our guide and we give our trust to it fully as if we know it will slay any demons we encounter. Until we return back on the road. Moving quickly … grooving out of the forest together all of us.
With all that’s going on it’s amazing we all stay together. And he plays that guitar like it’s his soul mate without pause together dropping into slow poppy raging. “Twist it up and, and twist it down.”
Kyle comes on handing them guitars. “Lets hear it for Kyle.” We cheer. Next a feel good story. Simple good music and lyrics you can learn.
Smoke rises from the crowd and we watch with smiles.
Again the ballad feels epic as if we are going on our own musical quest with adventure and peril and love. It reminds me of some other Twiddle show I attended. I wrote there too and I got to speak to Zdenek and he wrote this in my book:
I notice a wammy bar on his bass. I’ve not seen that before … except for maybe by Thundercat.
Mahali and the crowd sing together, “Lightening” And as I type this at home the band sings the same song to me on Pandora. Trippy!
“Buy all their music,” I tell myself as the crowd goes wild singing and dancing hard to familiar sounds they connect with. “Oh yes I’m scared to be on my own …” “I got a second chance to do what’s right.” And that bass continues to give us that groove line. The keys singing to us now.
I look back at the balcony all out of their seats arms up and dancing with us. We love this band.
My mom doesn’t like Mihali’s singing but I ask if she’s ever seen Phish. “Have you heard Trey sing? I hate it! But look how many people love it. I love this.”
And then the song goes to the carnival. They take us for a ride. Down, dark and smooth until the guitar speaks again to us over it, coming up for a breath together, diving back up, swimming in shallow waters …
You see they love each other, hours of practice, and traveling, and making it together. And they’re here now together with us.
Brook Jordan on drums wears a hat that reads, “Human Being,” and together with the bass and the guitar and the keys they communicate into each others ears never stopping the sound. The guitar he makes it scream and us too. Faster and faster and faster back into rockin’ jams like there used to be at concerts in the 60s and 70s and 80s before they all got too old to really rip it out. I look up from my page to Mihali’s hat off and his hear tousled.
The lights go dark and the cymbals and bass create a bowl like space that we roll up and down the sides of like marbles.
Rolling around inside his mind, “step inside my mind,” and the crowd sings and rages like I haven’t seen in ages.
And we toss and turn inside the space they build for us. “Step into my mind.” People dance all the way to the back row and my mom points out a guy in the front row wearing a look alike to Zdenek’s hat, just as Ryan’s keys sing some funky clips.
I stop and think and stare and watch and groove and realize that this is one of my favorite shows. A Twiddle show. I love a Twiddle show. And of the hundreds of shows I’ve been to, Twiddle never disappoints, other than when I start to think of all the times I didn’t see the, that I didn’t see them take down Red Rocks.
I watch them make faces to each other as if something didn’t go quite right but no one would hear what they didn’t. My page flashes from greens to reds and purples and the strobes try to catch up with the sound.
Everyone is engrossed. Everyone is here now for this. Deeply in the moment. Here at Boulder Theatre on the stage right, big hair thrashes to the song …. Rage and rap. Water. Rage about our water…
And then I notice the small cardboard cutout of a man through the rage and chaos of the scene. Who is this cut out? We take a photo as brake begins.
It’s Christopher Walken. Huh.
And we filter out the doors into the night and the smoke and Shakedown Street giving each other high 5’s and waving good bye to the Bear from line.
(Pictures Courtesy of My Mom)
(This is a sample of my work recording live shows in pen and ink. Keep an eye out for me at shows and festivals across Colorado, and please come say hi. This is also posted on Steemit by me)
Thanks for reading.