Kings of jam rock Widespread Panic set up basecamp at a strategic location that the veterans of the road know well at this point, having played there three times in four years. While WSP hunkered down for the weekend at The Theater at MGM National Harbor, on the Potomac River just a few clicks downstream of the Washington Monument, reinforcements of “Goodpeople” gathered from around the country for Friday night’s jubilee. As is tradition, Panic brought the heat and performed nonstop jams with a second set that was as good as they’ve ever played.
Rolling up their sleeves and getting to work after a customary welcome greeting from John Bell (“G’evening, everybody!”), the six-piece opened with “Give” for the first time since 2016. Two consecutive transitions connected the first three songs of the set as Dave Schools anchored the melody into a thumpin’ “Bear’s Gone Fishin’” until Jimmy Herring’s solo spilled over into a nasty “Worry”. (“One day, I’m gonna get better, babe / and take a little time to worry all about you.”)
The band paused to catch its breath but maintained the theme as JB crooned “C. Brown” (“You don’t have to worry…”) like a mother placating an agitated child. Before the song could fade away, Duane Trucks revived the beat and introduced “Steven’s Cat”. For the fans who made the trek, Jimmy Herring accelerated into the horizon of “Shut Up and Drive” until parking inside the first cover of the night, fIREHOSE’s “Sometimes”.
Winding down the set, Panic performed “You Got Yours” on the 27th anniversary of the song’s debut. Both Jimmy and JoJo—on organ and piano—had their say before moving on. To finish the first frame, JB gnawed into a slice of blues history with a gritty version of Willie Dixon’s “Taildragger”.
Back from set break, Panic staggered into the second set with a grooving “From the Cradle” before “Goodpeople” encapsulated JoJo’s “Dark Bar” for another spirited round. After a brief pause, Panic charged on without stopping until the end of the set.
A voodoo-infused performance of Dr. John’s “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” blazed the way into an early morning “Diner” run. Following a peaking solo and subsequent breakdown, JB served up a tasty improvised rap (“Put a quarter in the jukebox and make it sing this morning before all the respectable people come ’round.”)—sustenance for the soul.
Past the point of no return, Panic dug into a heavy “Papa’s Home” until slowing the tempo down for a dreamy “Jamais Vu”. Cranking the intensity back up, Bloodkin’s “Henry Parsons Died” evolved into “Conrad” to close the second set and ended over an hour of consecutive jams.
Widespread Panic came back for a pair of encores to finish the show in the same badass style that ran rampant throughout the first two sets. First, Widespread honored fallen friend and brother Daniel Hutchens of Bloodkin with a lyrically packed cover of “Trashy”. The Panics closed out the first night with an explosive bombardment, “Junior.”
Two more nights of beautiful weather and jam rock ahead. This run is shaping up to be monumental, if you will.
Widespread Panic – “Trashy” – 9/16/22
Widespread Panic – “Dear’s Gone Fishin'” – 9/16/22
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Widespread Panic – “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” – 9/16/22
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Setlist: Widespread Panic | The Theater at MGM National Harbor | National Harbor, MD | 9/16/22
Give > Bear’s Gone Fishin’ > Worry, C. Brown > Steven’s Cat, Shut Up and Drive, Sometimes, You Got Yours, Tail Dragger (64 mins)
Set 2: From the Cradle, Good People > Dark Bar > Good People, I Walk On Guilded Splinters > Diner > Papa’s Home > Jamais Vu > Henry Parsons Died > Conrad (84 mins)
Encore: Trashy > Junior (15 mins)