The titans of swamp rock, Widespread Panic, concluded their four-day destination event, Panic En La Playa, last night at the premier Hard Rock Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The eleventh iteration of the event finished with no rain and all sunshine as music kept the sunbaked patrons locked and loaded all day. After a daytime lagoon set from Doom Flamingo, Widespread Panic retook its courtyard throne for one last hurrah as two consecutive sandwiches in the first set, a fan-favorite bust out, a tribute to Jeff Beck, a sit-in from a crew member, and the debut of a new original added gasoline to the tropical festival’s smoldering embers.

Commencing the bittersweet finale of Panic En La Playa Once, WSP launched a trio of originals as the six-piece tumbled from the waterfall of “All Time Low” into a bass-heavy “Little Lilly”. The percussions of Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz plunged into the murky depths of a greasy “Fishwater”. Following a fierce breakdown, Dave Schools anchored the rhythmic pocket as the band improvised a short but intense jam.

After pausing to enjoy the cool breeze coming off the Caribbean Sea behind the stage, Panic honored fallen founding drummer Todd Nance with a rousing rendition of “Down” before building the first sandwich of the set with Leon Russell’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” encapsulating Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. This marked the fifth time the band paired these two songs together since debuting Russell’s tune in 2021.

Upon completion of one, the band set upon building a more traditional second sandwich as JoJo Hermann dissected “Good People” with explorations into “Dark Bar”. Another pause gave the ravenous crowd time to digest the double-decker before firing up the stove for a smokin’ selection of “Casa Del Grillo”. Last night was only the second time the fan-favorite was performed in almost seven years since its infamous return at Napa’s twice-rescheduled run in ’22. This was not the first time that the song was played in Mexico, however, as it was featured at the very first Panic en la Playa ten years ago in Puerto Morelos.

Slowing down the tempo, John Bell mesmerized during a heartfelt “Gimme” until the band resumed its conquest of knavish debauchery with Bobby Rush and Calvin Carter’s “Bowlegged Woman”. The performance couldn’t top Mempho Fest’s when the legendary bluesman sat in with WSP, but they sure as hell gave it their all.

To finish off the first set, Panic played “Halloween Face” for the 12th time since its debut at ’21’s NOLAween. As the band has gotten more comfortable working through the new material, the heavy jam at the close has only gotten better and better.

Widespread Panic opened the second set with the debut of “Tackle Box Hero”. JoJo manned the vocal helm and sang the appropriate lyrics describing “the ocean making waves” as foamy crests sparkled over his shoulder. The series of recent debuts could indicate a new studio album in the works, with “Sundown Betty”, “Halloween Face”, and “Tackle Box Hero”—not to mention the existing songs without albums or the new compositions that JoJo debuted over his Shut Up and Play livestreams in 2021—finding a home together.

The treasured instrumental “Disco” engulfed the rowdy crowd in familiar flames before crew member Cola Jarnigan joined on stage to add tambourine on a howlin’ “Greta”. A scorching transition jam washed ashore into Jerry Joseph and Glenn Esparza’s “Climb to Safety”.

Gnashing down on the second set, Panic pulled from its deep well of originals with the instrumental “The Take Out”, lining up “Space Wrangler” and “Porch Song” to follow just as they appear on WSP’s debut album, 1988’s Space Wrangler. During the jam of “Space Wrangler”, Widespread Panic included a tribute to the late great Jeff Beck with a tease of “Freeway Jam”.

Without stopping, Panic opened the floor to give the drummers space for a percussive showdown before spreading its wings for an unbroken flight through “Surprise Valley”. Another transition later and Jimmy Herring added a fiery blend of his homemade salsa for a spicy “Pilgrims” (“Remember we stopped for tamales last time?”).

WSP paused to give Jimmy’s amp and equipment time to cool off. To finish the second set, Panic unleashed “Chilly Water” and, naturally, mayhem ensued. Water flew from all angles and directions as the sky filled with the only precipitation of the week.

Returning to the stage for the last time, John Bell thanked the people of Cloud 9 Adventures for their tireless organization of the event as well as Edie Jackson for her dedicated ASL interpretation. Allowing the applause to settle down, WSP opened the encore slot with only the third-ever performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on the Wire”.

Before the sound faded away, Panic bounced the beat into a lively “Ain’t Life Grand” to a euphoric courtyard. Not ready to call the event over, Widespread Panic performed “Bust It Big”, which many were awaiting since the soundcheck on day zero. Appropriately, the entire courtyard joined in for the lyrics, “Gonna call my shots and ride my liquor down… TO MEXICO!!!”

Greyboy Allstars capped off the incredible tropical destination event with a late-night set. Most attendees wandered around the resort until sunrise with dazed looks on their face and confusion in their eyes. For those, without post-days, a terrible morning lay ahead for them. One rough morning is worth four or five unforgettable days and nights, though, so we battle through. Durham, you’re up next! For the full tour, click here.

Widespread Panic – “Fishwater” – 1/17/23

[Video: Michael Wilker]

Widespread Panic – “Bowlegged Woman” (Bobby Rush) – 1/17/23

[Video: Michael Wilker]

Widespread Panic – “Tackle Box Hero” – 1/17/23

[Video: whereshaynes]

Widespread Panic – “Disco” – 1/17/23

[Video: whereshaynes]

Widespread Panic – “Surprise Valley” – 1/17/23

[Video: whereshaynes]

Widespread Panic – “Chilly Water” – 1/17/23

[Video: Michael Wilker]

Widespread Panic – “Ain’t Life Grand” – 1/17/23

[Video: whereshaynes]

Click to view more videos.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Panic en la Playa | Hard Rock Resort | Riviera Maya, Mexico | 1/17/23 8:07 ET

Noche Cuatro

Set 1: All Time Low > Little Lilly > Fishwater, Down, Stranger In A Strange Land (Leon Russel) > A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan) > Stranger In A Strange Land, Good People > Dark Bar > Good People, Casa del Grillo, Gimme > Bowlegged Woman (Bobby Rush), Halloween Face  (89 mins)

Set 2: Tackle Box Hero, Disco, Greta* > Jam > Climb To Safety (Jerry Joseph), The Take Out > Space Wrangler > Porch Song > Drums > Surprise Valley > Pilgrims, Chilly Water (89 mins)

Encore: Bird On A Wire > Ain’t Life Grand, Bust It Big (18 mins)

* w/ Cola Jarnigan on tambourine


– First time played ‘Tackle Box Hero’ (new original)

– ‘Freeway Jam’ (Jeff Beck) during ‘Space Wrangler’

– Entire show with Edie Jackson (ASL interpreter)