After much anticipation following two cancellations- the second being a necessary audible called on the day of the event, Widespread Panic finally returned to Austin, Texas for a three-night run at the Moody Theater.
As to be expected from the overlords of swamp rock, John “JoJo” Hermann’s organ introduced an uplifting rendition of Glenn Esparza & Jerry Joseph’s “Climb to Safety” to get the music flowing before the rolling drums of “Diner” washed over the audience like a newly baptized baby. Jimmy Herring ignited the jam early with lightning-fast guitar work as John Bell dug his heels into the improvised “rap” section.
Widespread Panic – “Climb to Safety” – 10/8/21
WSP reined in a cosmic “Space Wrangler” to get the ravenous audience whipped into an early frenzy at last night’s rodeo. The monster riffs from Jimmy Herring corner eventually subsided to allow Widespread to move into a jaunty cover of Alan Price’s “Sell, Sell.” During which JB confirmed that “the next is gonna be the best one of the year!”
Always the pragmatic one, Dave Schools curtailed Herring’s intergalactic exploration for a bouncing ride through the “Old Neighborhood.” As if there weren’t enough uncaged animals running about the venue, “Steven’s Cat” and “Bear’s Gone Fishin’” were untethered and released into the wild.
To wind down the first set, the pace of a slow rolling “Christmas Katie” was accelerated into lightspeed by Jimmy Herring before transitioning into a hellacious “Radio Child”. Once more, Herring flew with unbridled fury while JB’s stirred in some growls like a witch over her cauldron.
Emerging from the shadows, the members of WSP returned to their respective positions onstage to perform “From the Cradle”. A song that many feared as lost forever before being un-shelved during 2019’s Milwaukee run.
Back-to-back classic originals followed with “Good People” leading the way into a sizzlin’ “Greta”. Dave Schools and the crowd of feral animals howled after leading the strays to water “to drink and become whole again.”
Jimmy Herring was a force to be reckoned with as an improvised transitional jam gave Panic the room and space to roam. Eventually the jam begat “Up All Night” with JoJo’s piano omnipresent throughout the breakdown, expansive dissection, and subsequent rebuilding.
Widespread paused to take a breather before knocking Link Wray & His Ray Men’s “Rumble” out of the park. Gaining momentum, the band teased “Makes Sense To Me” before charging forward into an alternate cover from the same band, Bloodkin, with “Who Do You Belong To?”.
A bass-heavy bombardment from Schools in “Machine” marked the beginning of nearly a half hour of uninterrupted music. A lengthy “Barstools and Dreamers” was divided by J.J. Cale’s “Travelin’ Light” for the first time in the band’s storied history. Panic steamrolled into the back half of “Machine” to close out the masterful melody mashup. To close out the second set, WSP returned to Jerry Joseph’s catalogue for a run through of “North”.
Upon return for encore, Widespread Panic performed an emotionally charged “Nobody’s Loss” with JoJo at the vocal helm. To conclude the first night of smoking music, WSP shifted gears to cover Skip James’s “I’m So Glad”, a triumphant tribute to Col. Bruce Hampton and his spiritual mentorship.
Widespread Panic returns to the Moody Theater stage tonight for the penultimate high noon showdown in the streets of Austin. Nothing can stop these guys from finishing out their highly anticipated Texas run. Be there or be mad with FOMO. Otis, out.
Setlist: Widespread Panic | Moody Theater | Austin, TX | 10/8/21
Set One: Climb To Safety, Diner, Space Wrangler, Sell Sell > Old Neighborhood, Steven’s Cat, Bear’s Gone Fishin’, Christmas Katie > Radio Child
Set Two: From The Cradle, Good People, Greta > Up All Night, Rumble > Who Do You Belong To?, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers > Travelin’ Light > Barstools and Dreamers > Machine, North
Encore: Nobody’s Loss, I’m So Glad