Juggernaut of jam rock Widespread Panic returned to The Theatre At The Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas with a hell-forsaken vengeance for a scorching opening night in Sin City.

The band’s rabid fanbase jumped at the chance to shake some dice along with their bodies in Vegas. Many music acolytes flew to Mexico, North Carolina, and now Vegas to break up the monthly monotony and experience the glorious zenith of swamp rock in its raw form, live. Seeing WSP is certainly the only gamble in Las Vegas where you’re guaranteed to win.

Tumbling like a barrel thrown from the top of a waterfall, Panic first blazed into “All Time Low”. Naturally, the merciless guitarist, Jimmy Herring, fired off handfuls of riffs at light speed and took no prisoners.

Widespread Panic – The Theatre At The Virgin Hotels – Las Vegas, NV – 3/3/23 [Full-Show Audio]

Dave Schools built a low rumble into the steady thump of “Give” with mechanical precision before slowing down the tempo into the distinguished introduction of Vic Chesnutt’s “Blight”.  The bassist commandeered the vocal duties and included flippant quips in between the verses.

After Jimmy Herring grounded his sky-high solo, Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz plummeted into “Rock” like a skipped stone sinking in water. Another original followed as “Proving Ground” encapsulated an instrumental cover of Link Wray & His Ray Men’s “Rumble”. This marked the ninth-ever performance of the cover, which debuted during 2017’s infamous Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas Halloween special.

Recalling last year’s Vegas shows, Panic teased The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” before moving on to the second instrumental of the set with “A of D”. Panic kept it original as the set wound down. The always nefarious Dave Schools showcased his extensive vocabulary of onomatopoeia and added hisses, howls, and yelps to JoJo Hermann’s vocals during “Greta”.

“Fishwater” closed out the first frame of the Vegas run with its raunchy grandeur, percussive breakdown, and bass-heavy reconstruction, leaving everyone in attendance wanting “Mo’! Mo’! Mo’!”


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Cantering into the second set, John Bell held the reins of “Space Wrangler” and soon kicked his spurs into a too-hot-to-trot jam that harnessed all of Mikey’s unique guitar-bending energy. Charging onwards, Panic dished out a slew of originals which would continue until the very end of the set as “Rebirtha” cascaded into “Little Lilly” after a spritely piano-laden transition jam.

Another segue led into the third instrumental of the night as “Party at Your Mama’s House” slid into a smokin’ “Ribs and Whiskey.” John Bell equipped his metal slide for the song’s distinctive sounds as JoJo’s fingers danced around his keyboards and Jimmy Herring spewed guitar solos like a flamethrower into the air.

After a brief pause, the Panics loaded up and taxied “Airplane” down the runway and soared into the first covers of the set with a jaw-dropping, belly-buster “Red Hot Mama” sandwich. The fiery Funkadelic tune singed eyebrows off faces in the crowd and left them with a permanent surprised look.

An appropriate expression as the band descended with a nosedive into Bobby Rush and Calvin Carter’s “Bowlegged Woman”. A silver-tongued John Bell pleaded with his prospective companion to accompany him for the night—“There’s chicken in the car now,” (winner, winner, chicken dinner)—before the band returned to the latter half of “Red Hot Mama” to finish off the set.

For the final time of the opening night, Widespread Panic sauntered out of the shadows, each member to their respective position on the still-smoldering stage. For only the sixth cover of the show—including the short instrumental “Rumble”—John Bell took the lead for the third-ever performance of “This Friendly World”, a song written by Ken Darby and first performed by Fabian, which debuted during the encore slot of 2019’s Andy Kaufman-themed dis-trust-ing NOLAween.

Before the audience’s trust issues could fully resurface and manifest themselves once more, Panic concluded the show with the rhetorical question and classic banger “Ain’t Life Grand?” Like sherpas, JoJo’s piano and Duane’s steady snare led the way until Jimmy Herring overtook the expedition with an avalanche of notes.

The audience trickled back out into the fluorescent glow of the casino’s lights, “Scoping the places where fun [was] to be found,” in the City of Sin. Stay true to yourselves and your people and don’t shoot the moon with still two more nights of debauchery ahead. Until tomorrow. Godspeed, Goodpeople.


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Widespread Panic – “Red Hot Mama” > “Bowlegged Woman” > “Red Hot Mama” – 3/3/23

[Video: MrTopdogger]

Setlist | Widespread Panic | The Theatre At The Virgin Hotels | Las Vegas, NV | 3/3/23

Night One – 9:15 PT

Set 1: All Time Low, Give, Blight (brute.) > Rock, Proving Ground > Rumble (Link Wray & His Raymen) > Proving Ground, A of D, Greta > Fishwater (61 mins)

Set 2 Space Wrangler, Rebirtha > Jam > Little Lilly > Party At Your Mama’s House > Ribs and Whiskey, Airplane > Jam > Red Hot Mama (Funkadelic) > Bowlegged Woman (Bobby Rush) > Red Hot Mama (Funkadelic) (77 mins)

Encore This Friendly World (Ken Darby), Ain’t Life Grand (9 mins)

Notes – LTP ‘This Friendly World’ 8/08/21 Asheville (71 shows) 3rd time played