Widespread Panic landed in Milwaukee and immediately any Spreadneck’s plans for Sober October went out the window. Brew Town has always been known as an underestimated weekend for WSP, often overshadowed by Halloween and the New Year’s Eve runs on the horizon, but when the Riverside Theater opened its doors, the real ones—familiar with the glorious legacy of Milwookie’s past runs—left their favorite bars and food joints to make the pilgrimage down the sun-baked streets of downtown Milwaukee and through the neighborhoods surrounding the Riverwalk to the historic venue.

The setlist was crafted around long-winded jams through originals, covers, and two special tributes to fallen friend and songwriter Daniel Hutchens of Bloodkin.

Before the festivities began, Gary Witt and Matt Beringer welcomed Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson to the stage. The Mayor proceeded to proclaim 10/21 as Pabst Theatre Group Day in recognition of the organization’s hard work on their 20th anniversary.

Curtailing the ceremonies, JoJo Hermann and his piano introduced “Greta” to kick off the first night of the run. As Jimmy Herring wound down his concluding solo, Dave Schools drove the band into a formidable “Give”.

After a brief pause, WSP teased The Guess Who’s “New Mother Nature” before switching gears into an instrumental prowl through “A of D”. Not letting the music die completely, JoJo reached his hands into the murky depths and pulled out “1×1” just like the fabled Sugarman.

Consecutive covers followed as Jerry Joseph’s “Time Zones” settled into Bloodkin’s “Quarter Tank of Gasoline”. There is a well-known video on YouTube that features Danny Hutchens and Eric Carter sitting in with WSP back in 2013. In commemorating the late Hutchens’ birthday, it would not be the last cover from the late songwriter’s prolific repertoire.

Poster by Bene Rohlmann

As the memorial cover wound down, the drummers carried the intensity until JoJo layered echoing organ melodies to introduce “You Got Yours”. Dave Schools fiddled around on his bass before Panic rolled into fIREHOSE’s “Sometimes” like a locomotive wheel, feelings real as steel. Closing out the set, JoJo took the vocal helm for a monumental “Bust It Big” that finished off the first frame after an esoteric introduction.

Returning from set break, Panic immediately launched into—debatably—the best opener in the band’s archive with a rowdy “Old Neighborhood”. Dave Schools first steered the bouncing rhythm into a serene “Little Lilly” before plunging into a heavy cut of Vic Chesnutt’s “Sleeping Man”, with the bassist leading the vocal charge.

‘Twas a bountiful harvest this year and Panic came for the reaping with a piano-laden “Cotton Was King” that segued into a “Driving Song” sandwich. Encapsulated inside “Driving Song”, the second Bloodkin tune of the night, the instrumental “Mercy Train to Bogart”, was performed for only the second time ever after its debut at Red Rocks in 2021.

Poster by Bourbon Sunday/Nathaniel Deas

After working through a cover of J.J. Cale’s “Travelin’ Light”, Widespread Panic started dropping jaws and panties with consecutive ragers as “Papa’s Home” spilled into “Imitation Leather Shoes”. To punctuate the second set in ecstatic exclamation, Widespread performed a classic “Ain’t Life Grand” before leaving the audience in a euphoric stupor as the band walked offstage.

Panic wasn’t letting the audience off that easy as they returned for their encores. Bringing the crowd out of their entranced reverie, Widespread Panic performed a poignant “Nobody’s Loss”. JoJo, who had been omnipresent all evening, once more led the band through the movements with his vocals and piano. Like a boomerang deemed lost, Widespread returned to The Guess Who’s collection with a combination finale of “No Sugar Tonight”/”New Mother Nature”.

With two more nights still ahead, the tankard is most certainly 2/3 full. Enjoy the weather, the city, and each other, Goodpeople. This has likely been the run that you’ve been waiting for so enjoy every second of the times we have together.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Riverside Theater | Milwaukee, WI | 10/21/22

Night One: Happy Birthday Danny Hutchens

Set 1 Greta > Give, A of D, 1 x 1, Time Zones, Quarter Tank of Gasoline > You Got Yours, Sometimes, Bust It Big (62 mins)

Set 2 Old Neighborhood > Little Lilly > Sleeping Man, Cotton Was King > Driving Song > Mercy Train To Bogart > Driving Song, Travelin’ Light > Papa’s Home > Imitation Leather Shoes, Ain’t Life Grand (81 mins)

Encore Nobody’s Loss, No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature (13 mins)


– ‘No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature’ false start before ‘A of D’
– ‘Quarter Tank of Gasoline’ LTP 6/27/21 Red Rocks (62 shows)
– ‘Mercy Train To Bogart’ LTP 6/27/21 Red Rocks (62 shows)
– Mayor Johnson delivers pre-show proclamation honoring 20 years of the Pabst Theater Group