As they celebrate 30 years of being a band, Widespread Panic recently embarked on fall tour. After a set of opening shows in Washington D.C., the band hit Coney Island in Brooklyn, where they settled in for two nights at the newly opened Ford Amphitheater down there. Night one was a rager, only to be topped by night two, which saw the band focus on some of their most classic material.
As the @PanicStream Twitter account noted, 14 of the show’s 19 songs made their debuts in the band’s first five years together. It’s a testament to how strong the material is that they can still rock a packed amphitheater of 5000 fans with many of the songs they were playing 25-30 years ago.
Kicking things off with the instrumental “Disco” was a nice sign of things to come. The sextet eased into a groove as smoke clouds filled the air and beverages were consumed. A Widespread show is always a joyous occasion, but a Saturday night on the Coney Island boardwalk in NYC would prove to be especially invigorating. Jambase pointed out that “Airplane” was actually the ‘newest’ song in set one, having been debuted in 1994. That gives you an idea of how vintage the setlist looked throughout the night.
While the first set put forth a high standard, the second set really knocked thing out of the park. During the 78 minute effort, the group hardly ever stopped the music, providing interesting segues and jams that always seemed to land right on the money. “Tail Dragger” is a newer tune, and it helped ease into the set before a wild string of tunes followed, including “Tie Your Shoes” and “Pilgrims” segued in between “Driving Song.” “Goin’ Out West” was met with great excitement from the crowd, and ignited a freaky dance party that would continue through the two-part “Fishwater” that was broken up by “Bowlegged Woman.”
Often times bands will come out for a sort of sentimental encore, maybe a slower, sing-along tune or something, but this was not the case for Panic. They still had plenty left in the tank as they crushed through “Ribs & Whiskey” before sending everyone home with a slammin’ cover of the Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime.” It was one hell of a way to say goodbye to the Big Apple, and there wasn’t a still body in the room as John Bell lead the band through the David Byrne tune.
Widespread Panic continues their tour tomorrow night in Baltimore before heading further south for stops in Alpharetta, Asheville, Tuscaloosa, and Pensacola.