Soaring past the point of no return, Widespread Panic celebrated its third night of the Beacon Theatre run with a Saturday night barn burner. The loyal fanbase packed tight into the rows under the omniscient gaze of the gilded statues flanking each side of the stage. Without a bad seat in the house, the audience danced as the rock and roll royalty plucked through a delectable mix of originals, tributes to David Bromberg, Jerry Garcia, The Beatles, and a pair of encores for the gone-but-never-forgotten bandmate, Michael “Mikey” Houser.

Underneath the proscenium arch, Widespread Panic walked onstage to a raucous round of applause as the band geared up, spread their wings, and took flight into “Pigeons”. John Bell switched up the lyrics, “Your reflection’s looking clearer now that you are working on a sunny day” in light of the unrelenting heat wave.

After the song, Dave Schools threw his arms wide and flapped, hopelessly trying to fly, before giving up and introducing David Bromberg’s circus show “Sharon”. Many of the audience occupied the same seats for the whole run and exploded after JB delivered the line: “The same rowdy crowd that was here last night is back again!”

To follow, Jimmy Herring laughed indifferently at the gasoline prices as he poured gallon after gallon of fuel on a roaring conflagration of “Junior” before tipping his cap to The City That Never Sleeps with a rousing rendition of “Up All Night”. JoJo Hermann’s fingers danced their merry way through “Christmas Katie” until Jimmy Herring cranked the dial of an electrifying “Radio Child” without pause.

After a short breather, Panic mellowed out the tempo during “Glory” before JoJo introduced “Greta” and whipped the animals in attendance into a rabid frenzy. Before the music can fade away, Schools grabbed the bull by the horns and wrestled the melody into an aggressive performance of the Grateful Dead‘s “Cream Puff War” to close out the first frame.

Exactly halfway through the five-night run, Panic captured the magic of “Flicker” to jump-start the second set. (“Just cause we’re laughing / doesn’t mean that we don’t care!”). Next, the audiences’ mouths foamed from both ale and excitement as Widespread cracked open a crispy cold “Tall Boy.”

The euphoria spilled over into a less drinkable beverage, a filthy serving of “Fishwater.” Although lacking in whistles, the jam featured a percussive breakdown and reconstruction by Schools, Duane Trucks, and Sunny Ortiz. After a short pause, the instrumental “A of D” cruised serenely until the headlights of “Driving Song” approached in the rear-view mirror. Soon enough, the wind chime-laden introduction gracefully maneuvered into the lead like the ghost of Dale Earnhardt.

Building upon their foundation, the bass-heavy instrumental “Machine” followed tradition and dropped into “Barstools and Dreamers” before returning for the finish of “Driving Song” and included a cosmic Col. Bruce Hampton-inspired “Zambi” jam. However, the music didn’t end after the sandwich and kept flowing uninterrupted into another instrumental, “Happy Child”. This marked only the second performance of the tune in the 20 years following Michael Houser’s passing.

Still not stopping, Panic covered The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” for only the fourth time since its debut in Las Vegas earlier this year.  After a short pause, WSP concluded the second set with an uplifting performance of Jerry Joseph and Glenn Esparza’s “Climb to Safety”. (“You know as well as I do / It’s no fun to die alone!”)

Widespread Panic returned to reward the third night’s audience with a triple-song encore, beginning with “Time Waits”. This jazzy number hasn’t been performed since the acoustic set of 2017’s New Year’s Eve show at the fabulous Fox Theatre. Panic performed consecutive tributes to Mikey Houser, the group’s late guitarist and cornerstone of the band, with “Travelin’ Man” segueing into an ecstatic finale of “The Waker”, only the 8th since the Lingering Lead’s passing and second at the Beacon.

The juggernauts of jam trudge onward with two more shows ahead for the NYC fans. Having decades of experience performing together and a kinship like no other, Panic possess a wisdom of knowing exactly where it came from and its mentors and influences that it still carries in its minds and music. I cannot wait to see what this band has in store for the last two shows and hope everyone is enjoying this as much as I am. Round four ahead. Godspeed and good luck.

Listen to full-show audio of Saturday’s performance below, and check out a collection of fan-shot videos from Fred Ramadan.

Widespread Panic – “Sharon” – 7/23/22

Widespread Panic – “Greta” > “Cream Puff War” (Grateful Dead) – 7/23/22

Widespread Panic – “Fishwater” – 7/23/22

Widespread Panic – “Happy Child” > “Dear Prudence” (The Beatles) – 7/23/22

Widespread Panic – “Travelin’ Man” > “The Walker” – 7/23/22

View Videos

Widespread Panic – Beacon Theatre – New York, NY – 7/23/22 –  Full Audio

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY | 7/23/22

Set One: Pigeons, Sharon, Junior, Up All Night, Christmas Katie > Radio Child, Glory, Greta > Cream Puff War (69 mins)

Set Two: Flicker, Tall Boy > Fishwater, A of D, Driving Song > Machine > Barstools and Dreamers > Zambi Jam > Driving Song > Happy Child > Dear Prudence, Climb To Safety (75 mins)

Encore Time Waits, Travelin’ Man > The Waker (14 mins)

Notes – ‘Happy Child’ LTP 7/17/21 Wilmington (45 shows)

– ‘Time Waits’ LTP 12/31/17 Atlanta (139 shows)