After a weekend of nefarious debauchery, Widespread Panic concluded their three-night run in Columbia, SC last night with a setlist of tunes from the Michael Houser era. As the sun set and the temperature dipped, the dedicated fanbase took refuge inside The Township Auditorium to bask in the fiery intensity that the swamp rockers dole out on a nightly basis.

Kicking off the final show with a humble “Howdy”, John Bell and Dave Schools exchanged lyrical quips during The Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature” before cantering into “Space Wrangler”. Jimmy Herring took the reins and kicked his spurs, accelerating the tempo into a striding gallop to cross the finish line. JB showed off his devilish humor as he joked about pouring a little whiskey into his “cold, cold beer.”

A brief pause gave the band and audience time to catch their breath as JB paid tribute to Neil Young with a cover of “Don’t Be Denied”. Dave Schools anchored the melody for a ponderous “Wondering” before Sunny Ortiz introduced a stormy “Hatfield.”

The slew of classic originals continued as another segue warped the music into a percussive “Rock” followed by the medieval story of “Jack” and evolving into a high-flying “Conrad” to finish the first set. As is tradition with this powerhouse group of swamp rockers, the jams were crisp and unrelenting.

Returning from set break, WSP ignited the crowd with Tom Waits’ “Goin’ Out West” before beginning another lengthy string of consecutive jams. JoJo Hermann blazed the way through “One Armed Steve” until Herring briefly commandeered control for an uplifting “Pleas”. Like Icarus, Jimmy flew dangerously close to the sun before JoJo retook the cockpit for a flight around Jerry Joseph and Glenn Esparza’s “Climb to Safety.”

Widespread Panic – “Goin’ Out West” (Tom Waits) – 2/20/22

[Video: Squarepile 103]

An improvised transition jam blazed into a fiery “Tie Your Shoes”, threatening to engulf the entire city in its conflagration until Schools doused the inferno with the shadowy assistance of Vic Chesnutt’s “Blight.” In his usual “words of wisdom” window of improvisation, Schools proclaimed “This party’s too fuckin’ loud man / which way’s up / which way’s down?”

WSP returned for a brief and intense reprise of “Tie Your Shoes”—which included a quick “Spanish Moon” Little Feat tease—before finishing off the 49-minutes of uninterrupted heaters with “Red Beans”. Written by legendary bluesman Muddy Waters and arranged by New Orleans pianist, Professor Longhair, JoJo did justice to the song of one of his biggest influences.

Winding down the second frame, Panic performed a psychedelic “Pigeons”, making the audience bob their heads like the song’s musical namesake.  Widespread concluded the final set with a classic cut of “Ain’t Life Grand”.

Upon return for encore, Panic first honored Talking Heads with a starry-eyed “City of Dreams”. As to be expected anytime the band plays south of the Mason-Dixie Line, the venue exploded when JB crooned the words “and Southern U.S.A.” A blazing-hot “Action Man” ended the finale with a photo finish and a cloud of dust from the stomping feet.

The cloud of dust subsided, and the stage was already empty; Widespread Panic gone. The only thing to prove that they were ever there at all was the name on the theater’s marquee, a scattering of empty cups on the floor, and shit-eating grins on the faces of those filing out of the venue.

Next stop is the Las Vegas strip with St. Augustine still only a dot on the horizon. A busy year is shaping up for the band, see the full touring schedule here. For now, back to work, go and leave your mark. Until next time, Goodpeople. Revisit our coverage of Widespread Panic’s Friday and Saturday night shows.

Setlist [via PanicStream]: Widespread Panic | The Township Auditorium | Columbia, SC | 2/20/22 

Set One: No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature (The Guess Who), Space Wrangler, Don’t Be Denied (Neil Young), Wondering > Hatfield > Rock, Jack, Conrad (72 mins)

Set Two: Goin’ Out West (Tom Waits), One Arm Steve > Pleas > Climb To Safety (Jerry Joseph, Glenn Esparza) > Tie Your Shoes > Blight (Vic Chesnutt) > Tie Your Shoes > Jam > Red Beans (Muddy Waters), Pigeons, Ain’t Life Grand (75 mins)

Encore: City of Dreams (Talking Heads), Action Man (11 mins)


– First time “Blight” has been sandwiched within “Tie Your Shoes”

– “Spanish Moon” and “Hit It and Quit It” teases after “Tie Your Shoes”

– Entire show with Edie Jackson (ASL interpreter)

– All songs from the Michael Houser era