On Sunday night, without wasting time or losing steam, Widespread Panic aced the grand finale of a four-night weekend run at Riverside Theater in Milwaukee.

The annual trip to Milwaukee is a perennial high point of the band’s touring schedule, and Sunday’s Riverside Theater finale delivered in kind with rare bust-outs from The Doors, Neil Young, Dr. John, Lou Reed, and The Beatles as well as tributes to the usual suspects like Bloodkin, Jerry Joseph, Vic Chesnutt.

Getting down to business, the band followed John Bell’s introduction of “Howdy, folks!” by teasing the percussive rhythm of “Pleas”, which begat a mystical, appetizing jam. Just when the anticipation was becoming palpable, Panic drove the jam into a bountiful “Love Tractor” before dusting off The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” for the first time since Forecastle Fest in 2015, a gap of 232 shows. Keyboardist JoJo Hermann executed Ray Manzarek’s parts with nimble precision while JB honored Jim Morrison with his haunting vocal work.

Allowing the crowd time to settle down, Widespread then returned to their original repertoire with a pastoral performance of “Holden Oversoul” to “warm a farmer’s soul.” Duane Trucks‘ slow drumbeat rolled into an ethereal “Blue Indian” before quickening the pace for an uplifting cover of Jerry Joseph and Glenn Esparza’s “Climb To Safety”. Following another short break, the rumbles from Sunny Ortiz’s corner built into a scorching “Radio Child” featuring a lively Jimmy Herring.

Next, for only the fourth time ever, Panic played tribute to fallen fellow Athens musician, Daniel Hutchens, with a cutting performance of “Trashy”. The tune was released on Bloodkin’s 2021 Black Market Tango album and has been embraced by the Panic crowd since its debut at Red Rocks Amphitheatre earlier this year. Rounding out the first set, Dave Schools weighed anchor to sail into a bombastic “Little Lilly” before getting assistance from tour manager Steve Lopez to cover Jerry Joseph’s reggae rag, “Chainsaw City”.

Widespread Panic returned from set break with two consecutive, blazing covers as Neil Young’s “Walk On” bounced into Calvin Carter and Bobby Rush’s classic rager, “Bowlegged Woman”, JoJo adding piano flourishes throughout the rough and rowdy mix.

Schools, like a veritable madman, kept pouring more and more gas on the fire with an extended descent from “Tie Your Shoes” into “Stop Go”. The bass-heavy barrage continued as Schools took lead vocals on Vic Chesnutt’s “Blight” with characteristic social commentary from the big man. (Should we or should we not? It’s a f–kin’ disease people… Come on!”)

Moving on to a serene “C. Brown”, Widespread Panic settled the crowd down before commencing the bourbon-soaked debauchery by inserting a cover of Dr. John’s “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” as well as a ”Drums” percussion duel in the middle of a greasy “Fishwater” sandwich. Appropriately, it is now “Four train days / [to] get me down to New Orleans” for WSP’s NOLAween.

To close out the second frame, Panic dished out a hearty take on “Postcard”, getting the audience back into the mix as both JB and the crowd shouted shared sentiments, admitting, “This town is nuts / my kinda place / I never wanna leave!”

To finish out the Milwookie four-night run, Panic served up a three-song encore with Lou Reed’s “Vicious” leading the charge. This marked only the third performance of this song by Widespread Panic. Continuing the trend of exotic covers, Panic paid tribute to The Beatles’ with “The Ballad of John and Yoko” before closing out the incredible run with an intoxicating “Tall Boy” that left us all “foaming at the mouth.”

The unstoppable locomotive that is Widespread Panic rolls on to New Orleans in four (train) days to kick off another wild Halloween run at the Lakefront Arena. After, Chicago lies over the horizon with Atlanta next at the plate. New York City waits patiently for 2022’s first shows. For a full list, head here.

To those in attendance, count your blessings and rest up, you earned it. To everybody else, there’s always next time. Next stop, the Big Easy…

Check out a gallery of photos from the show below courtesy of photographer Daniel Ojeda/PTG Live. Listen to a full audio recording of the show via PanicStream here.

Revisit Live For Live Music‘s coverage of Night 1 here, Night 2 here, and Night 3 here.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Riverside Theater | Milwaukee, WI | 10/24/21

Set One: Jam > Love Tractor > Riders On The Storm (The Doors), Holden Oversoul, Blue Indian, Climb To Safety (Jerry Joseph/Glenn Esparza), Radio Child, Trashy (Bloodkin), Little Lilly, Chainsaw City* (Jerry Joseph) (75 mins)

Set Two: Walk On (Neil Young), Bowlegged Woman (Calvin Carter/Bobby Rush), Tie Your Shoes > Stop Go, Blight (Vic Chesnutt), C. Brown, Fishwater > Drums > I Walk On Guilded Splinters (Dr. John) > Fishwater, Postcard (85 mins)

Encore: Vicious (Lou Reed), The Ballad of John and Yoko (The Beatles), Tall Boy (16 mins)

Notes * w/ Steve Lopez on percussion
– ‘Riders On The Storm’ LTP 7/19/15 Forecastle Fest (232 shows)
– ‘I Walk On Guilded Splinters’ LTP 11/02/19 NOLA (33 shows)
– ‘Vicious’ LTP 3/01/20 New York (21 shows)
– ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ LTP 11/02/19 NOLA (33 shows)