Veterans of the road and masters of surprises, Widespread Panic returned to the newly constructed Enmarket Arena in Savannah, GA for the band’s Halloween spooktacular last night. Using Freddy Kruger’s powers, Panic crafted a setlist beyond anybody’s wildest dreams that included eight debuts and two bust-outs.

The six-piece band sauntered onstage wearing pajamas, except for a clean-shaven John Bell and Dave Schools. Schools was wrapped in a wizard’s cloak and JB was dressed as Edgar Cayce—known as the “Sleeping Prophet.” A large dream catcher loomed over the stage, playing shadow games with the band’s intense lighting rig.

The night began with a standard pairing of “Machine” and “Barstools and Dreamers”. This marked the first dream reference of the night. “Thought Sausage” fed a hungry audience before Steve Ferguson’s “Flat Foot Flewzy” made its Saturday night rounds.

Widespread Panic – “Machine” – 10/29/22 [Pro-Shot]

A signed, sealed “Postcard” was delivered with the appropriate lyrics (“I see you in / a thousand costumes”) before a hard-hitting cover of Murray McLaughlin’s “Honky Red” (“I fought in your wars / now I sleep in your doors”). The first debut of the evening came in the form of Spirit’s “Nature’s Way”. This would certainly not be the last as the setlist delved more and more into the nether realms of the unpredictable.

A swingin’ “Sleepy Monkey” landed on the shores of Roy Buchanon’s instrumental “Sweet Dreams” for the second debut of the show. After the commercialized jingle of The Chordette’s “Mr. Sandman” played over the house PA, WSP closed out the first frame with a cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” for the first time since Asheville’s Halloween shows in 2007 (a 805 show gap!). JB laid on the couch and imitated a patient in a shrink’s office at the end of the set.

Weirder and weirder the setlist got as this band dove further down the rabbit hole. To open the second set, Panic debuted consecutive covers of “Dreams”, first performing the Buddy Miles version, then segueing into the more well-known Allman Brothers Band tune for the third and fourth debuts of the night. There was some cross-pollination during the transition as the band bridged the two songs. Jimmy Herring burned brighter than the sun as he packed his years of ABB experience into a lightning guitar solo.

As the audience’s jaws remained on the floor, Dave Schools transitioned into WSP’s interpretation of Winston Riley’s “Arleen” .The funky fan favorite interrupted the crowd’s dreamlike reverie and jolted them to dance, also contributing to the theme with the lyrics, “Arleen was a dream, what a dream,” and the improvised, “I couldn’t sleep last night / rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ around in my dreams / mighta been in and out of dreamin’ / I’m dreamin’, I’m dreamin’ here now!”

After Schools and JB wound the music down with repetitions of “Nobody move / Nobody get hurt” and “Blood and fire” (the Targaryen house words), the bombastic bassist took the lead vocals during Vic Chesnutt’s “Sleeping Man”.  In the middle of “Goodpeople”, JoJo led the audience through the cobblestoned back alleys of Savannah towards the preferred dinginess of “Dark Bar”.

In the song, the pianist opens each verse with a description of three dreams in “Phoenix / got up and floated out of bed / dancing with the aliens,” in “the moonshine / a floating spirit in the sky,” and in “Vegas / had a blindfold on my head.” WSP returned to finish off “Goodpeople” before the night took several unexpected and unprecedented twists.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh debuts of the evening came in succession, first appearing in the form of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”. Like a hinkypunk leading through the misty swamps, a heavy instrumental jam on Sleep’s “Dragonaut” plummeted into The Black Angels’ “Phosphene Dream”. These covers were not completely out of the nowhere—though incredible and completely unexpected—considering that during shows so far, Duane Trucks has worn Black Angels shirts, Schools has worn Sleep shirts, and the Black Angels have played over the house PA during set break and after the shows.

Without stopping, Panic progressed back into their own repertoire with an entrancing “Jamais Vu” (“Rubbing our eyes / to see it wasn’t a dream”) before taking a breath to push open the porch door of “Holden Oversoul”. A raunchy “Fishwater” (“I’ve been fueling my dreams / eating greens and beans”) broke down into a drummers’ duel between Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz.

As the other musicians joined back in, they switched gears to cover Dr. John’s “Dream Warrior” for only the second time since debuting the song during 2010’s NOLAween with the help of the good doctor himself. Folks got their fill of Narlins’ gris-gris but as the band returned to finish off “Fishwater” and shuffle offstage, the audience still wanted mo’, mo’, mo’!

And more they would get. Widespread Panic performed a three-song encore beginning and ending with originals. A lucid “Dream Song” preceded the eighth (!!!) debut of the evening, accelerating the tempo into Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream”. To finish Savannah’s Halloween weekend with an original coup de grâce, the Panics took a psychedelic, head-bobbing flight during “Pigeons”. Staying true to the theme until the very end, “Pigeons” incorporated the lyrics, “You’ll remember how to fly tonight in your dreams / You know you’re dreaming / When you wake up and there’s nothing there worth buying anymore!” as well as “Wake up so I can go to sleep!” and a “Dream Warrior” callback during his rap.

What a shocking Halloween show full of tricks, treats, and badass debauchery. Widespread MF Panic, ya’ll. Opening some eyes tonight, what a dream, what a dream. Next, WSP closes out 2022 with a bang with the New Year’s Eve shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on deck. Until next time, Goodpeople.

“We are the music makers / And we are the dreamers of dreams.” —Arthur O’Shaughnessy

Widespread Panic – “Sleepy Monkey” – 10/29/22

[Video: MrTopdogger]

Widespread Panic – “Mr. Sandman” (The Chordettes, Over PA), “Sweet Dreams” (Roy Buchanan) > “Enter Sandman” (Metallica) – 10/29/22 

[Video: Robbie Massengill]

Widespread Panic – “Enter Sandman” (Metallica) – 10/29/22

[Video: MrTopdogger]

Widespread Panic – “Dreams”, “Dreams”, “Arlene” – 10/29/22

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

Widespread Panic – “Goodpeople” – 10/29/22

[Video: Faceman 86]

Widespread Panic – “Dragonaut”, “Phosphene Dream” – 10/29/22

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

Widespread Panic – “Dream Warrior” – 10/29/22

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

Widespread Panic – “Running Down A Dream” (Tom Petty) – 10/29/22

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

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Setlist: Widespread Panic | Enmarket Arena | Savannah, GA | 10/29/22

Happy Halloween, Dreamers

Set 1: Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Thought Sausage, Flat Foot Flewzy, Postcard, Honky Red, Nature’s Way (Spirit) [1], Sleepy Monkey, Sweet Dreams (Roy Buchanan) [1] [2] > Enter Sandman (Metallica) [3] (68 mins)

Set 2: Dreams (Buddy Miles version) [1] > Dreams (Allman Brothers Band) [1] [4] > Arleen > Sleeping Man, Good People > Dark Bar > Goodpeople, Sweet Dreams (Patsy Cline) [1], Dragonaut (Sleep) [1] [5], Posphene Dream (The Black Angels) [1] > Jamais Vu, Holden Oversoul > Fishwater > Drum solo > Dream Warrior [6] > Fishwater (88 mins)

Encore Dream Song, Running Down A Dream (Tom Petty) [1], Pigeons

[1] First time played
[2] Instrumental; Jimmy has performed it solo previously
[3] Last time played 10/30/07 Asheville (805 shows)
[4] On 51st anniversary of Duane Allman’s death.
[5] Instrumental
[6] Last time played 10/30/10 (584 shows)
– 2nd set ended with JB “going to sleep” on couch
– ‘Mr Sandman’ official release played over house PA after ‘Sleepy Monkey’