Widespread Panic retook their throne of psychedelic rock and roll with another swampy, stomping second night of their five-show run at New York City’s Beacon Theatre on Friday. Following the residency’s opening night on Thursday which heard the band dish out covers ranging from Tom Petty to Curtis Mayfield, the second performance of this historic five-show run was heard from distances far and beyond the concrete blocks of Manhattan as a warm light and sound was generated beneath the icy streets. So much so, in fact, that even the strange incumbents of the old city–an alien race of lizard people known as New Yawkers–came to bask in the heat and explore their innate curiosities as Panic explored tunes from Robert Johnson and The Band‘s songbooks, in addition to delivering a bust-out of a Free Somehow track for the first time in nearly a decade.

John Bell and the band sauntered from the shadows as JB extended his polite charm to welcome the crowd in saying, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to a really big show.” No bullshit, straight to business, the rolling drum of “Wondering” kicked off what would be another tight night of music.

The well-loved “C. Brown” from the band’s 1991 self-titled debut kept the casual schoolyard pace until a bleak and honest take on Bloodkin‘s “Can’t Get High” ripped through the venue. Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter’s tune was brought to life with the lyrically appropriate words, “… On a seven-day binge!” The first set was marked with rare pauses between the songs as JoJo Hermann‘s piano tinkled before fading into the void. Jimmy Herring introduced a cataclysmic “All Time Low” that was one of the all-time greatest versions of the tune this writer has heard. A tremendous bridge was built to avoid tumbling waterfalls and piranha-infested rivers to slam through the gates of a raucous “Junior”.

Speaking of JoJo, the fastest hands east of The Rockies dazzled whirlwind piano flourishes that whipped “1×1” into a veritable maelstrom. As the first set was winding down, Panic dusted off “Dark Day Program” for the first time in nearly a decade. The oft-overlooked tune hailed from 2008’s Free Somehow hasn’t been heard since July 2011 during a show at Oakland’s Fox Theater. Leaving haunted sentimentalities behind, Panic pulverized “You Got Yours” before closing out the set with a spectral cover of Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breaking Down.” JB included a “Give Me Back My Wig” rap into the middle as JoJo moved freely behind his multi-layered arrangement of keyboards. A possessed JB paved the way for Herring to phase in and out of the physical realms before the entire band jumped in to hammer home the finish.

Check out Panic’s first performance of “Dark Day Program” since July 2011 below.

Widespread Panic – “Dark Day Program” – 2/28/20

Wasting no time, bassist Dave Schools led the band through a heavy take on Vic Chesnutt’s “Sleeping Man” before playing back-to-back covers of The Band’s “Ophelia” into  “Shape I’m In”. Returning to their own catalog, Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz and Duane Trucks blazed the trail into a hearty Colorado sandwich with “Surprise Valley” while enshrouding an arcane performance of “Bear’s Gone Fishing”. A quick drum breakdown heard the dueling drummers explore the reaches of their kits before the return to “Surprise Valley”.

Without stopping, the music flowed into the first half of “Driving Song” which commenced another sandwich, and this double-decker was crafted flawlessly. Herring remained undefeated with a scorchin’ choice cut out of the instrumental “E on a G” before finishing out the ladder half of “Driving Song”. This marked the twelfth time since its debut in early 2000 that “E on a G” has appeared on a setlist–the first time since their “Milwookie 2017” bash at Milwaukee, WI’s Riverside Theater.

A rare performance of “Don’t Wanna Lose You” resonated miraculously for only the second time in six years before a molly-whopping “Chilly Water” rained water from the gilded ceilings of the neo-Grecian theater. Once again, the other musicians stopped playing to let Ortiz and Trucks beat their synchronized pulses before concluding “Chilly Water” in a fury and chiseling an exclamation mark on the second set.

In this full-stack Beacon residency, many moments stand out early, but the “Blue Indian” to start Friday’s encore was otherworldly. The energetic crowd was alive and the connection between the audience and band was tangible. To close out the second night, Widespread Panic performed an uplifting cover of Jerry Joseph and Glenn Esparza’s “Climb to Safety”.

Watch the band’s second set performances of “Don’t Wanna Lose You” and “Chilly Water” from Friday below.

Widespread Panic – “Don’t Wanna Lose You” – 2/28/20

Widespread Panic – “Chilly Water” – 2/28/20

In this ongoing five-night takeover of New York City, the third day on Sunday sits in limbo–on Leap Day. The scales are tipping as the midpoint third show looms like a skyscraper piercing the horizon. See you soon, Good people. Happy Leap Day!

Scroll down for a gallery from Friday’s performance, courtesy of photographer Andrew O’Brien.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY | 2/28/20

Set One: Wondering, C. Brown, Can’t Get High (BloodKin cover), All Time Low > Junior (Junior Kimbrough cover), 1 x 1 (Beanland cover), Dark Day Program, You Got Yours, Stop Breakin’ Down Blues (Robert Johnson cover)

Set Two: Sleeping Man (Vic Chesnutt cover), Ophelia (The Band cover), The Shape I’m In (The Band cover), Surprise Valley > Bear’s Gone Fishin’, Driving Song > E on a G > Driving Song, Don’t Wanna Lose You, Chilly Water

Encore: Blue Indian, Climb to Safety (Jerry Joseph cover)

“Dark Day Program”, Last Time Played 7/9/2011