Last night, Athens, GA rockers Widespread Panic continued their Fall Tour with their second and final performance at the newly opened Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk. The same rowdy crowd that was there Friday night was back again and then some, as the scene on the boardwalk seemed virtually twice as big as the night before. The cool ocean breeze that swept over the beach pre-show was a welcome change after Friday’s swampy heat, and as a beautiful sunset painted the skies above the venue, a rainbow appeared over Coney Island’s iconic carnival rides.
With the breathtaking views–and the strength of Friday’s performance–the audience was already buzzing when the band took the stage. From the opening “Disco”, the band made their intentions clear–tonight was going to be a classic dance party. Fourteen of the twenty songs performed were debuted by the band in 1990 or before, making for a show stacked with early Panic and well-loved cover staples (“Stop~Go”, “C. Brown”, “Conrad”, “Pigeons”, “Driving Song”, and “Tie Your Shoes”: 1986; “Arleen”, “Genesis”, and “Bowlegged Woman”: 1987; “Disco”, and “Jack”: 1988; “Rock”: 1989; “Fishwater” and “Ribs and Whiskey”: 1990).
“Disco” dissolved into a spacey, Jimmy Herring-led outro jam. Next, the band launched into a well-executed three-song sequence, flowing seamlessly from “Stop~Go” into “Rock” into “Heroes” without skipping a beat. Another three-song run followed, as “Airplane” kept up the energy in the room before segueing into fan-favorite Winston Riley cover “Arleen” and, finally, into the anthemic “C. Brown”. An emotional “Genesis” came next, before a ripping “Conrad”, put an exclamation point on a top-notch first set.
The band kicked off Set 2 with Howlin’ Wolf‘s “Tail Dragger”, a staple of the band’s setlists over the last five years. From there on, Widespread Panic launched into the stratosphere and never looked back, putting on a truly memorable set for the Brooklyn crowd. An excellent “Pigeons” got the ball rolling before segueing into “Jack”. “Driving Song” materialized out of “Jack” to roaring approval from the audience, and segued into an extended “Tie Your Shoes”, which the band brought to a raucous peak before diving into “Pilgrims”. While keyboardist “Jo Jo” Herman was notably “on” all night, “Pilgrims” was where his funky keyboard grooves shined the brightest, propelling some locked-in improvisation that eventually made its way back to a “Driving Song” reprise.
Next, singer-guitarist John Bell drove the ladies in the audience crazy (and–lets be honest–the guys too) with a steamy rendition of Tom Waits‘ “Goin’ Out West”, before a rowdy “Fishwater” > “Bowlegged Woman” > “Fishwater” sandwich brought the set to a close.
Any devoted fan of any band is well-acquainted with the idea of a “piss break song.” Of course, you hope that every song at a show will be so incredible that you can’t look away, but sometimes nature calls, and a so-so tune can be a greatly appreciated window to take care of business. Last night, Panic caught fire as soon as they hit the stage, and stayed red-hot ’til the final notes rang out. Coney Island Night 2 had no “piss breaks” to speak of, and the ecstatic crowd happily “held it”–transfixed by a band performing at the top of their game.
Finally, the band returned for a two-song encore to cap off a stellar weekend on the boardwalk, with the whole theater singing along to “Ribs and Whiskey” and the Talking Heads‘ “Life During Wartime”. After getting their footing in D.C. this past week, Panic truly hit their stride in Brooklyn this weekend. With Fall Tour 2016 heating up, you can expect the band to ride this wave of momentum as they make their way to Philadelphia’s Mann Center tonight.
You can watch fan-shot video of “Heroes” and “Pigeons” below, courtesy of YouTube user danfro.
Check out the full setlist below, via PanicStream.
9/10/16 – Widespread Panic | Ford Amphitheater At Coney Island Boardwalk | Brooklyn, NY
Set 1: Disco, Stop~Go > Rock > Heroes, Airplane > Arleen^ > C. Brown, Genesis^^, Conrad (80 mins)
Set 2: Tail Dragger*, Pigeons > Jack > Driving Song > Tie Your Shoes > Pilgrims > Driving Song, Goin’ Out West** > Fishwater > Bowlegged Woman > Fishwater (78 mins)
Encore: Ribs and Whiskey, Life During Wartime*** (14 mins)
Notes: ^General Echo cover; ^^Jorma Kaukonen cover; *Howlin’ Wolf cover; **Tom Waits cover; ***Talking Heads cover