Saturday, October 29, 2011

Concert Review: Widespread Panic, October 8-9 2011

Alpharetta-10/8/11-Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

On the weekend of October 8th, Widespread Panic played what was thought to possibly be their last show in the Atlanta-area before they take their highly-publicized hiatus everyone has been talking about for the past year or so. It has been some time since I have seen the boys play, and being the parking lot and seeing the fans mulling about with excitement and anticipation evoked feelings of both energy in my noodle-dancing bones and those of nostalgia thinking back on all the shows I have been to and how this might be one of the last.
            The first set was as follows:
All Time Low >Rock, Tickle The Truth, Dyin' Man, St. Ex, Impossible >Jam > I Walk On Guilded Splinters >Christmas Katy > Radio Child, Henry Parsons Died.
Overall, I would say the first set was pretty solid. They played great, the songs choices were appropriate, but there was nothing particularly memorable about set one.

            Now, the second set was a completely different story:
Machine >Barstools And Dreamers, Good People >Dark Bar >Good People >Flat Foot Flewzy,*Don't Be Denied >*This Part Of Town, Flicker >Flicker Jam >Papa's Home >Drum Solo >Papa's Home >Drivin' Song >Superstitious >Drivin' Song >Breathin' Slow >Chilly Water and they encored with *City Of Dreams and Love tractor
*featuring John Keane on pedal steel guitar

Everything about this set was superb. First off, let me say that John Keane was on his game tonight. I usually find myself getting mesmerized by Dave Schools’ flowing hair and rockin’ bass or Jimmy Herring and his effortless manipulation of the guitar. On the songs featuring Keane, however, he grabbed my musically-infused brain and absolutely added to the flow of the musical energy. All of the song choices and segways were phenomenal; so I will just highlight my favorites. The best part of this set and the show for that matter was “Flat Foot Flewzy.” Panic played the tune with that funk and flavor that I forgot they could bring to songs. I do not think one person was sitting in the entire amphitheatre for this one. The second highlight was “Driving Song” into “Superstitious” and then back into “Driving Song.” Now, not to offend anyone here; Stevie Wonder really hit home with “Superstitious.” Widespread Panic, on the other hand, adds that hint of southern soul that the song was always missing; thus bringing it to a whole new level. Furthermore, making it sandwiched in between “Driving Song” provided for the perfect contrast. Of course, the never-disappointing “Chilly Water” completed the second set with a raging party as usual. For the encore they chose “City of Dreams” and then “Love Tractor” to give the audience a very pleasant ending to a great night.

Athens-10/9/11-Tunes for Tots-Georgia Theatre

            On October 9, 2011 the highly anticipated Tunes for Tots charity show at the Georgia Theatre commenced. With the concert having sold out in seconds and the cheapest ticket going for $150 a pop, this was already a historical show before Panic even stepped onto the stage. Seeing as Athens is where Widespread Panic calls home, this was to be a very momentous occasion; especially with the recent resurgence of the Georgia Theatre. The ‘Theatre’ holds a special place in the hearts of all Athens music-lovers, and the fact that Panic chose to come back to their hometown the year the Georgia Theatre re-opened their doors  to play their Tunes for Tots show is truly special. The set list for the night was as follows:

Set One: Pigeons, Ribs and Whiskey, Can’t Get High, Shut Up and Drive, Sleepy Monkey, Ride Me High>Hatfield>Surprise Valley>Porch Song

Set Two: North>Bust It Big>Jack, This Cruel Thing*, Blue Indian**, Disco>Diner>Vacation>You Should Be Glad, Goin’ Out West

Encore: Expiration Day**,Blight>Protein Drink>Sewing Machine

*with John Keane on vocals/acoustic guitar
**with John Keane on pedal steel

As any Panic fan can tell, this show was full of the classics. They played a spot-on show full of the life and energy that a well-done Panic show always brings to the stage. Highlights for me included “Blue Indian” followed by “Disco” into “Diner.” Additionally, they obviously tipped their hats to Vic Chesnutt by playing classics like “Vacation.” On that note, the encore seemed to be the only appropriate choice seeing as Athens is where Chesnutt called home, the classic encore adequately paid homage to the musical genius which served as a bittersweet ending to this momentous occasion.
I am aware that there will be some Panic fans who will complain about the show seeing as many of these songs were repeats of songs they played in Savannah, which I know upset some people who did the full Georgia run. In my opinion, however, Panic played the exact show they should have. Not only were they musically on-point, but it must be remembered that the Tunes for Tots show is for a charity. It is not intended to be a crazy party. Many of the people who attended the show were adults with professional jobs, or they were invited by the band themselves. So, I look at this show as more of a tribute. When I say tribute, I am not just referring to a tribute to classic Widespread Panic songs that are great to hear live, but a tribute to their long-time fans, to the GEORGIA THEATRE, to Athens, to Vic Chesnutt, and most importantly to all the kids who benefit from the Tunes for Tots charity. Although this particular show might not have gone down in history for the originality of song choices, it will for everything the show meant. Widespread Panic returned to Athens to play one of their most meaningful shows of the year in the city that laid the foundation for the band that they are today. This show in and if itself was special, and I feel truly humbled to know that I got the chance to see them in this intimate setting.

The Wood Tour
Also, just in case you have been living under a rock for the past day or two, Panic IS returning to Atlanta before they go on hiatus! On October 24th they announced their first-ever acoustic tour entitled the Wood Tour in which they will play at the Tabernacle on January 27, 28, and 29. So just in case you missed them or if you still haven’t gotten enough, there’s more to Panic yet to come! See you there!


-Lexy F.