On Friday night, Widespread Panic kicked off their three-night Halloween run at Park Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada. With an opening nod to David Bowie, Widespread Panic started the night appropriately with “Heroes”, seemingly paying tribute to the first responders of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas. After, they jumped into the bouncy and energetic “Love Tractor” and continued in an upbeat fashion into “Tall Boy”.  These two songs allowed that audience to reciprocate the band’s high energy back, returning raucous cheers in an almost call-and-response manner.

“Heroes” (David Bowie cover)


“Tall Boy”

[Video: Steve Pendergrass]

The rarely played “The Last Straw” followed from their self-titled second album.  Slowly picking up the pace, the band smoothly transitioned into “Cotton was King” led by JoJo Hermann on the keys, before slowing the tempo down for the mellow “Pickin’ Up the Pieces”.  From there, the band covered Bloodkin’s “Send Your Mind” before launching into an extended “Pigeons” jam that Jimmy Herring used to show off his guitar prowess. To close the first set with a bang, Widespread laid out a stellar rendition of original “Holden Oversoul”.

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Widespread Panic’s second set kicked off with “All Time Low”, a crowd favorite that epitomizes the feeling of a gambler with nothing to lose.  A loose and haphazard jam developed out of “All Time Low”, intensifying into the zenith of the show—a “Surprise Valley” sandwich. “Surprise Valley” morphed into  “Papa’s Home” and back into “Surprise Valley”, with the transitions across songs led by the heavy guitar riffs supplied by Herring.

“All Time Low”

The group kept the dirty Southern vibes rolling with Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breaking Down” and an equally bass-heavy “Thought Sausage”.  After the set-opening string of high-octane songs, the band crawled into a slow but heavy “Saint Ex” from their album Dirty Side Down. Duane Trucks and Sonny Ortiz traded rhythms to build a heavy, improvisational rhythm section solo that kept the audience dancing.

Eventually, the drums progressed into a volatile version of “Radio Child” that electrified the audience back to their feet.  An unexpected “Vacation” followed with Dave Schools ripping bass licks after John Bell crooned the slow admittance that “with you by my side, I might get back alive… from my next vacation.”  Afterwards, the band offered “North”, and its anti-materialistic motifs and contrasting feelings of isolation and self-discovery seemed to truly resonate with the crowd.

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After a quick break, Widespread Panic returned for a lively rendition of their humorously tragic song “Blackout Blues” led by keyboardist JoJo Herrmann from their album Ain’t Life Grand?.  To conclude the evening, Widespread Panic began with a slow version of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”. However, the final jam of the night soon evolved into the hair-raising, heavy punk anthem that fit perfectly into the Vegas casino atmosphere.  John Bell echoes Lemmy’s sagacious words that “You know I’m born to lose, and gamblin’s made for fools, but that’s the way I like it, baby, I don’t want to live forever!.”

“Ace of Spades” (Motorhead Cover)


[Video: D Mal]

Widespread Panic returns tonight and tomorrow to round their Halloween run in Las Vegas.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Park Theater at Monte Carlo | Las Vegas, NV | 10/28/2017

Set One: Heroes, Love Tractor, Tall Boy, Last Straw > Cotton Was King, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Send Your Mind, Pigeons, Holden Oversoul

Set Two: All Time Low > Surprise Valley > Papa’s Home > Surprise Valley > Stop Breaking Down Blues, Thought Sausage, Saint Ex > Drums > Radio Child, Vacation, North

Encore: Black Out Blues, Ace Of Spaces

[Photo: Ojeda Photography]