Returning to Charleston, SC for the first time since the unforgettable Trondossa Festival in 2019, the jam goliaths of Widespread Panic arranged for a helluva weekend at Credit One Stadium. Widespread Panic made the most of the opportunity by having each night’s opening act join in for the encore. Chucktown’s own Kanika Moore sat in Friday night when Panic En La Playa veterans Doom Flamingo opened the show. Rising phenom Daniel Donato then joined WSP on Saturday after the meteoric Cosmic Country opened the second of two shows. This past weekend’s run marked the first time Widespread Panic was joined by opening acts since playing with Umphrey’s McGee in 2015.

Blasting off early and often, Panic took flight into an opening “Pigeons” before Dave Schools unearthed Bloodkin’s “Henry Parsons Died” for the only cover of the first frame. Heartfelt classics cascaded in succession as “The Last Straw” mellowed out for a stroll through “C. Brown” before accelerating into the rolling drum line of “Shut Up and Drive.”

Widespread kicked its spurs to run unbridled through “Space Wrangler”, charging from an early canter to a triumphant gallop. JoJo Hermann switched keyboards to favor his piana for a boot-stompin’ “Big Wooly Mammoth” in all its rowdy glory (“Somebody throw me a lighter / so we can burn this city down!”). Bringing the first frame to a finish, Panic fired up the ol’ reliable engine of “Love Tractor” for a cheeky joyride and parked the beast safely inside the barn before running out of fuel.

Refreshed from set break, the zealots in attendance roared in excited anticipation when the veteran six-piece reemerged on stage. Starting slow, WSP cracked open a slow-tempo “Porch Song” until Jimmy Herring took the reins for a mad dash into overdrive. JoJo slid back to his piano to pour one out for the barroom heroes during a bawdy “Blackout Blues”.

Underneath the hemlock trees, JB fell into a trance in order to summon “Sundown Betty” for her weekly exorcism. Without stopping, Widespread Panic skipped “Machine” and instead pulled up an open seat and slid into an intoxicating “Barstools and Dreamers”.

A sprawling “Second Skin” sandwich enclosed a “Tie Your Shoes” with a lively loop, swoop, and pull. Flowing without pause, the Panics plunged into the Vic Chesnutt-penned brute. combo  “Protein Drink / Sewing Machine” before closing out the second set with an uplifting performance of Jerry Joseph’s “Climb to Safety”.

Making the most of the opportunity at hand, Widespread Panic welcomed Charleston native Kanika Moore for encores of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and a scorching rendition of Funkadelic‘s “Red Hot Mama”.

Widespread Panic, Kanika Moore – “For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield) – 5/5/23

[Video: Holly Bowen]

Widespread Panic, Kanika Moore – “Red Hot Mama” (Funkadelic) – 5/5/23

[Video: The843Jason]

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Credit One Stadium | Charleston, SC | 5/5/23

Set One: Pigeons, Henry Parsons Died (Bloodkin), The Last Straw > C Brown, Shut Up And Drive, Space Wrangler > Big Wooly Mammoth > Love Tractor (67 mins)

Set Two: Porch Song [1] > Blackout Blues, Sundown Betty > Barstools and Dreamers, Second Skin > Tie Your Shoes > Second Skin > Protein Drink / Sewing Machine (brute.), Climb To Safety (Jerry Joseph) (78 mins)

Encore: For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield) [2], Red Hot Mama (Funkadelic) [2] (13 mins)

[1] Slow “Porch Song”, LTP 6/25/21 Red Rocks

[2] w/ Kanika Moore on vocals

– Doom Flamingo opened

On Saturday, Widespread Panic returned to Credit One Stadium with help from up-and-coming gunslinger, Daniel Donato, his Telecaster, and his clan of banditos collectively dubbed Cosmic Country. Just like the night prior, Daniel Donato joined the band for the encore finale.

After an opening set from Cosmic Country, Dave Schools fiddled around his bass guitar’s fretboard before being joined by JoJo’s piano for a boisterous “Bust It Big” opener. Schools blazed the way into two more bass-heavy classics “Wondering” and “Little Lilly” before the heavy drums of “Rock” gave John Bell a chance to wield his guitar slide.

For only the third time since its glorious debut in Mexico at Panic En La Playa Once, WSP reeled in “Tackle Box Hero” before washing ashore of “I’m Not Alone”. Ditching the wholesome vibes, Panic got down and dirty during “Halloween Face”, the 15th performance since its debut at 2021’s NOLAween. JoJo bounced into “One Arm Steve” before WSP galloped “Action Man” to the finish line as a not-so-subtle nod to the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby, which took place a little over an hour prior to showtime.

Opening the door to the back porch of the second set, “Holden Oversoul” devolved into a “Good People” sandwich which wandered off the beaten path to duck into one of JoJo’s favorite dives, “Dark Bar”.

Laden with fistfuls of dynamite, WSP stormed the castle of Murray McLauchlan’s “Honky Red” for the first cover of Saturday night. JB scooped his mandolin for a euphoric rendition of “Ain’t Life Grand”, and the beloved frontman flexed his slide once more during “Ribs and Whiskey” after an extended instrumental jam, “Party At Your Mama’s House”.

Still unfinished, Panic reloaded to wind down the second set with a trio of classic originals. “Pilgrims” meandered into the piano intro of “Greta” as Schools howled, yelped, and led the rabid audience through a cornucopia of onomatopoeia. Closing out the set, a raunchy “Fishwater” gave Sonny Ortiz a chance to run through his gamut of instruments and snazzy sounds during a percussive breakdown.

Just like on Friday when Kanika Moore of Doom Flamingo joined the band onstage for the encore, Cosmic Country’s Telecaster-wielding outlaw, Daniel Donato, mounted up to join Widespread Panic’s Charleston rodeo for Saturday’s encore.

Related: Daniel Donato Conjures 45-Minute “Dark Star” With Bill Kreutzmann In New Orleans [Watch]

JB welcomed him to the stage to “play a few ditties.” Opening up with a soaring “Surprise Valley”, the night concluded with an explosive cover of Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime.” During both, Herring and Donato exchanged guitar solos like break dancers showing off their best moves. If you were one of the unfortunate few that missed it, definitely check this out.

Widespread Panic, Daniel Donato – “Surprise Valley” – 5/6/23

[Video: Josh Daniel]

Widespread Panic, Daniel Donato – “Life During Wartime” (Talking Heads) – 5/6/23

[Video: Robbie Massengill]

For Daniel Donato, his music career came full circle on Saturday. Daniel and his band performed one of their first gigs together busking in the street outside of the Riverside Theater in 2021 while queued audience members waited to enter the Widespread Panic show. Needless to say, Donato & Co. blew some minds and opened some ears that day. Now, it feels appropriate that the wavy-haired guitarist used his momentum to do the thing that they originally asked to do, open for Widespread Panic.

The unstoppable locomotive of Widespread Panic rolls onward to Brandon, MS May 27th–28th before making its traditional return to Red Rocks Amphitheatre during the last weekend of June (23rd–25th). For the full tour, click here.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Credit One Stadium | Charleston, SC | 5/6/23

Set One: Bust It Big, Wondering, Little Lilly > Rock, Tacklebox Hero > I’m Not Alone, Halloween Face, One Arm Steve, Action Man (61 mins)

Set Two: Holden Oversoul, Good People > Dark Bar > Good People, Honky Red (Murray McLauchlan), Ain’t Life Grand [1], Party At Your Mama’s House > Ribs and Whiskey, Pilgrims > Greta > Fishwater (83 mins)

Encore Surprise Valley [2] > Life During Wartime (Talking Heads) [2] (25 mins)

[1] w/ JB on mandolin

[2] w/ Daniel Danato on guitar

– Cosmic Country opened