From the outskirts of Washington D.C., Widespread Panic continued to lay siege on the country’s capital from The Theater at MGM National Harbor across the banks of the Potomac River. Past the point of no return, the swamp kings of jam rock performed a setlist crafted with their late founding guitarist, Michael Houser, in their thoughts as his father and family were among the audience.

Building the first set of all Mikey-era originals, Panic opened the show with an uplifting “Pleas” before perching and taking off into “Pigeons” as the rowdy audience bobbed their heads to the beat. A carefree breeze cooled the crowd as Jimmy Herring wafted through the mellow instrumental harmonies of “The Take Out” segueing smoothly into the rolling introduction of the fan-favorite “Porch Song.”

Dave Schools led the six-piece down the familiar path of “Walkin’ (For Your Love)” until the band locked in on the instrumental “Happy Child”. The song flourishes in Mikey’s characteristic warm tones, and the infectious joy was contagious as smiles spread like wildfire.

Keeping it moving, Panic coupled a pairing of “Pilgrims” and “Travelin’ Man”. Both songs capture an idealized life on the road from a romantic’s perspective. Many remember the return of “Travelin’ Man” in 2018 at this very venue following a four-year gap. Another segue trickled into the euphoric introduction of “The Waker” as the audience responded with tears of joy and a burst of cheers.

Widespread Panic – “Pilgrims” – 9/17/22

[Video: scottg72]

JoJo Hermann’s pristine piano playing punctured the peace for a heartfelt performance of “This Part of Town”. John Bell’s vocals cut like a scalpel, opening up our insides and holding up a mirror in a process of honest self-reflection. (“Don’t give up, no don’t give up / where there is love there is hope.”) To close the first frame, JB wielded his mandolin for a jubilant “Ain’t Life Grand”.

Back from set break, Widespread kicked its spurs for a lengthy gallop through “Space Wrangler” as Jimmy Herring shot fire from his fingertips. JoJo’s piano tinkled the introduction of “Tickle the Truth” before stepping to the mic to captain the vocals of an evocative “Visiting Day”.

For only the tenth time since its debut last year, WSP donned its nefarious “Halloween Face” before sandwiching Leon Russell’s “Stranger In a Strange Land” around Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. This marked the fourth time that this tasty coupling was served after first being featured on the Chicago Theater menu last fall.

After a quick pause, a string of music continued unbroken as “Saint Ex” flew through the clouds before crash landing into a cataclysmic “Impossible”. The stream of music flowed as an improvised jam and found form for an extended tease of Grateful Dead’s “The Other One” before freeing “Jack” from the dungeons of a medieval castle.

The steam carried into a tumultuous “Bust It Big” which gave Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz a chance to crash on their kits with maximum force. Finally stopping for a moment after nearly an hour of consecutive jams, WSP finished the second set with “Blue Indian” for the first time in the band’s long and storied history.

Widespread Panic rewarded Saturday’s crowd with a three-song encore as JB began with a toast and a blessing during “May Your Glass Be Filled”. “Last Straw” then tried to break the camel’s back before a galloping “Action Man” closed out the penultimate show of the D.C. run.

Locked and loaded, the boys from Georgia conclude the run tonight, September 18th. That’s Widespread MF’ing Panic, doing its damn thing. Not flinching or hesitating. Sheer debauchery and badass rock and roll. Raise hell on and off that dance floor.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | The Theater at MGM National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD | 9/17/22

Set One: Pleas, Pigeons, The Take Out > Porch Song, Walkin’ (For Your Love), Happy Child > Pilgrims, Travelin’ Man > The Waker, This Part of Town, Ain’t Life Grand* (57 mins)

Set Two: Space Wrangler, Tickle The Truth, Visiting Day, Halloween Face, Stranger In A Strange Land (Leon Russell) > A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan) > Stranger In A Strange Land, Saint Ex > Impossible > The Other One jam (Grateful Dead) > Jack > Bust It Big, Blue Indian (92 mins)

Encore May Your Glass Be Filled, The Last Straw, Action Man (15 mins)


* w/ JB on mandolin

– All-Mikey era all-original first set. Mikey’s father, sister, and niece were in attendance.

– First time “Blue Indian” has closed 2nd set