The perpetually grooving kings of the jam band scene, Widespread Panic, turned up the heat for the fifth and final show at the illustrious Beacon Theatre in New York City on Monday night. The weather took an upward spike as the lion’s days of March briefly subsided to provide a cool evening to the exhausted but still-standing NYC crowd.

Much like the previous night, Widespread Panic returned to their 2003 NYC Halloween setlist with a bust-out of Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” for only the 6th time ever (LTP Broomfield Halloween 2016). J.J. Cale’s “Travelin’ Light” followed, serving as the last cover of the set before a slew of the band’s well-known classics.

“Old Neighborhood” bounced its nostalgic gait into a monstrous pair of “Imitation Leather Shoes”. The Franz Kafka-inspired tune never let up until finally metamorphosing into a rhythmic performance of “The Last Straw”, a cherished cut from the band’s second album. The progressive tempo accelerated to a near-unsustainable pace and intensity until Jimmy Herring piloted a transition into a scorching “Pleas”.

Rounding out the first set, Widespread Panic offered up a trilogy of originals beginning with a percussive “Rock” before taking the audience back into a royal court from the medieval times with a wondrous “Jack”. The wise and merciful King JB helped the jester “Whomp[ed] up some biscuits for us all” before warming up the engine for a “Love Tractor” ride into the twilight of set break.

Those who were late to their seats will never forgive themselves for missing Panic open the second set with “The Waker.” Written by the late Space Wrangler and co-founder of the band, Mikey Houser, for his newborn son, Waker Houser, the upbeat song was seemingly shelved for good following Houser’s death in 2002—that is, until 2018’s New Year’s Eve show at Atlanta’s Fox Theater, when the song made its triumphant return. The band went on to play “The Waker” two more times in 2019—at Red Rocks and the Ryman Auditorium, respectively—making the song’s Beacon appearance just the fourth rendition in nearly 20 years.

A psychedelic “Pigeons” took flight around the concrete jungle next as audience members bobbed their heads to the uncaged jam before the band slowed things down for a mystical “Hatfield”, Inspired by the “Rainmakers”, Charlie Hatfield and his brother, John Bell mesmerized during a solid improvisation section that followed a furious build-up courtesy of Dave Schools, Jimmy Herring, and JoJo Hermann.

A bass-heavy segue gave way to “Impossible”, beginning an incredible, 50-minute string of jams that were both meticulously aligned and casually improvised by the savant musicians. After “Impossible”, a heavy transition featured an extended tease of Bob Weir and the Grateful Dead’s “The Other One” before “Saint Ex” took to the skies. The song’s build-up and break-down of tempo and intensity are based on the incredible story of a German pilot shooting down his favorite author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry—of The Little Prince fame—during World War II. A succinct but sizzling performance of “Tie Your Shoes” bled into a heavy tease of Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon” before a hearty jam on Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” wrapped up this nonstop flow of music that lasted nearly an hour.

Hardly done and not holding back, JoJo led the band through a rousing rendition of “Nobody’s Loss” before closing out the second set with an appropriate run through Jerry Joseph’s “North.” The tune, which was co-written by actor and friend, Woody Harrelson, voiced the lyrics, “I’m gonna get myself up North / Find out who the hell I am!” Just the second cover of the set, this “North” spoke to all the southern fans who made the pilgrimage up to the beautiful NYC theater for the week.

With the last tease of the evening, the pranksters returned once more to their Andy Kaufman-themed Halloween show in New Orleans with a dozen or so measures of “I Trusted You”. Widespread Panic proceeded to fill both encore slots in earnest with New York-appropriate Talking Heads songs, as an emotive “City of Dreams” led the way into an explosive performance of “Life During Wartime” to close out this marathon five-night run at the historic venue.


Looking back, surviving five shows on five consecutive nights is reminiscent of the ol’ touring days of Widespread Panic. To mentally, physically, and financially prepare for this goes beyond simple mathematics and hard work. To the people who managed to stay on their feet for five shows: bless your courageous mothers for raising such persistent spirits.

After partaking in two Playas, I have often pined for another show, a fifth show. This time around, the swamp dogs from Georgia brought their wandering carnival church within spitting distance of Broadway and served up a full five-stack of pancakes for the soul—and goddammit, I survived! As we filed out onto the sidewalk, I screamed that deranged battle cry to the empty sky, to the neon lights of Times Square, to nobody in particular. Even still, the words of Hunter S. Thompson echoed rhetorically around my fractured, weary mind: “It never got weird enough for me,” I thought as I searched for cheap flights to Chicago, Austin, and Charleston. For now, though, I’ll be sleeping ’til the Red Rocks announcement. Until next time, Goodpeople. Stay freaky!

See below for a selection of videos from the final night of Widespread Panic’s five-night Beacon Theatre residency:

Widespread Panic – “I Wanna Be Sedated” [Ramones cover] – 3/2/20

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

Widespread Panic – “Pigeons” – 3/2/20

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

Widespread Panic – “The Waker” – 3/2/20

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

Widespread Panic – “Tie Your Shoes” > “Run Like Hell” Jam – 3/2/20

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

Widespread Panic – “North” – 3/2/20

[Video: Fred Ramadan]

Widespread Panic – “Life During Wartime” [Talking Heads cover] – 3/2/20

[Video: MrTopdogger]

View Videos

For a full list of Widespread Panic’s tour dates, see here.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY | 3/2/20

Set One: I Wanna Be Sedated, Travelin’ Light, Old Neighborhood, Imitation Leather Shoes, The Last Straw > Pleas, Rock, Jack > Love Tractor (60 mins)

Set Two: The Waker, Pigeons, Hatfield > Impossible > Saint Ex > Tie Your Shoes > Jam, Nobody’s Loss, North (82 mins)

Encore: City of Dreams, Life During Wartime (14 mins)

– ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ LTP 10/30/16 Broomfield (121 shows)
– ‘The Other One’ tease after ‘Impossible’
– ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ tease after ‘Saint Ex’
– ‘I Trusted You’ teases before encore
– Paul Hoffman’s 800th show as Lighting Director