After kicking off their Fall Tour with two nights in Washington, D.C. earlier this week, southern jam-rock titans Widespread Panic made their way to Coney Island, Brooklyn last night, September 9th, for their first of two shows at the brand new Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk.

With the sweltering heat and humidity, and a crowd adorned in flip-flops, Croakies, Patagonia, and “Home Team” gear galore, this show felt like a southern party despite its Brooklyn beach locale.

The venue was noticeably empty as the crowd waited in anticipation for the show to begin. Just over an hour after their scheduled 6:30 start time, the band hit the stage to booming applause, starting with “Hope In A Hopeless World” before diving into “Greta”, with Jimmy Herring showcasing his guitar chops early and assertively. The well-played though relatively short (64 min) first set saw Panic get their footing on the new terrain, running through “All Time Low”, “Wondering”, “Dyin’ Man”. The crowd sang along with John Bell‘s sultry vocals on Bloodkin‘s “Can’t Get High” before a  “Pleas”> “Love Tractor” pairing sent the show to halftime.

The band wasted no time as they returned for set two, launching into a down-and-dirty “Machine” that segued into fan favorite “Barstools and Dreamers”. Instrumental jam “Party At Your Mama’s House” came next, providing the only semblance of a breather that this set had to offer. The “Space Wrangler” > “Hatfield” that followed had the crowd entranced, as bassist Dave Schools got a chance to stretch out a little and the effortlessly cool frontman JB brought “a little California voodoo” to the Brooklyn beach town. The “Surprise Valley” that came next saw both Jimmy Herring and  Jo Jo” Herman shine, trading ripping guitar riffs and chunky funk keyboard grooves, before the band passed the baton to “Sunny” Ortiz and Duane Trucks for a captivating “Drums” segment that eventually made its way back to “Surprise Valley” to the delight of the audience. Finally, “Blue Indian” led into Panic’s popular optimist’s anthem “Ain’t Life Grand” to close out a stand-out second set.

The two-song encore stretched nearly 15 minutes, with the sing-along “Trouble” leading into an all-out, full-band assault on “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues,” as beautiful Jeff Wood illustrations adorned the stage behind them.

The audience was buzzing as they filed out of the venue onto the beach. After a fantastic night of sweaty, primal southern rock n’ roll on the boardwalk, excitement is high for Panic’s Coney Island finale tonight.