This weekend, Widespread Panic, the monsters of swamp rock, are back in Mexico for their 8th-annual, four-night destination event. This event, organized by Cloud 9 Adventures, marks the sixth time that the band chose to play in Mexico, with another two years taking place in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

After a short sound check yesterday, the band whipped a fury around the courtyard of ravenous vacationers that saw Jimmy Herring play with unparalleled energy. Jimmy, who turned 57 years old only a few days prior, continued to combine youthful vitality and timeless experience into his sizzling guitar licks.

On only the third day for most, the unquenchable audience threatened to completely empty the Hard Rock Resort’s alcohol supplies. However, logistics and operations experts predicted the trend, and quickly placed an ungodly order for more booze. If there’s one crowd resilient enough to keep drinking, unwavering in the Mexican sun—all the while radiating infectious enthusiasm on and off the dance floor—it’s this loyal troupe of fans. Cheers, Goodpeople!

The six-piece roster of legends returned to the stage to cull deep with a haunting rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” featuring a spectral John Bell. Technical difficulties prevented many streamers on MIXLR from hearing this opener, but soon the stream was up and running again. A percussive “Conrad” roller coaster-ed into the hard-hitting “You Got Yours” before pulling out a rare trick from their sleeves…


The boys rolled into a combination bustout henceforth known as the “Papa’s Trifecta.” “Papa Johnny Road” led into Talking Heads‘ tribute to the voodoo deity, “Papa Legba”, and finished with a heartfelt “Papa’s Home”. To add to the delight, the Panics weaved “Papa’s Home” holiday spirit around the uplifting Jerry Joseph classic “Climb to Safety” and completed a wholesome first set in never-heard-it-like-that style. This band never ceases to amaze. After more than thirty years playing together, they continue to display new and original ways to showcase their repertoire (Papa Johnny Road > Papa Legba > Papa’s Home > Climb to Safety > Papa’s Home).

An hour-long set break gave the audience time to refill their cups with complimentary booze, bellies with omnipresent taco stands and other diverse culinary offerings, and to refocus their energies toward the upcoming second set. As Widespread Panic sauntered out of the shadows, audience members scrambled back, spilling mojitos and cervezas as they ran back into position.

The weighty bassline for “Second Skin” pulsed for nearly twenty minutes as Dave Schools led the charge with Jimmy Herring and JoJo Hermann melding the foundations with intricate craftsmanship. Another lengthy jam followed, John Bell mesmerized throughout an elongated “Ribs And Whiskey” which followed tradition and dropped into the dreamy instrumental “Party at Your Mama’s House”.

Forty minutes later, the band was only three songs in the second set. The crowd-favorites kept coming with the classic tune from Everyday, “Wondering”, before the band nailed enchanting “Jack” with the White Wizard, Jimmy Herring, electrifying “in the corner, catching peanuts between his teeth.”

A soaring “Surprise Valley” came next, traversing another Talking Heads cover, “City of Dreams”, a saucy Herring jam, and a percussive showdown between Duane Trucks and Sonny Ortiz before returning to finish off the song’s structure. The unstoppable momentum continued as the band executed another favorite segue with “Machine > Barstools & Dreamers”. “Machine” featured a nasty Dave Schools plucking his bass strings so violently, he tested the structural integrity of his gear. Somewhere in the middle of Barstool’s build-up and Herring’s sizzling solo, the internet stream cut out once more for a final time. Streamers on couch tour waited patiently with increasing frustration. But, in vain, the stream served a powerful and depressing reminder to “Buy the Ticket; Take the Ride.” For those in attendance, the music never stopped. The band finished the second set with a swampy, funereal cover of “Henry Parson’s Died” by their Georgian fellows, Bloodkin (Bloodkin played a set of music earlier at the Lagoon Stage, featuring some sunshine, “True to my Nature” and “End of the Show”).

The boys shuffled off the stage and the bold raced to bottom a shot of tequila or to scarf down a quick taco. Upon return, Widespread Panic performed “Street Dogs for Breakfast” from their most recent album, JoJo Hermann’s fingers flutter up and down his piano keys. JoJo’s lyrics described “Bottoming out to find yourself and drinking whiskey sours for lunch.” JoJo appropriately switched the lyrics to “Margaritas for lunch,” as most of the standing audience could attest to the power of a liquid lunch. To end the second night of music and mark the halfway point of this wild four-night run, the Panics performed “You Wreck Me” for the fourth time ever as a memorial to the late, great Tom Petty.

The music continued with a late-night set by the Playa Allstars with a decked roster featuring guitarist Eric Krasno, bassist George Porter Jr., keyboardist Ivan Neville, percussionist Cyril Neville, drummer Terence Higgins, multi-instrumentalists Cheme Gastelum and vocalist Leslie Mendelson, as well as trombonist Mark Mullins, their their first of two late night shows during Panic En La Playa Ocho. They will play again following the Night 4 Finale of P.E.L.P. Ocho to close out the festivities.

Playa Allstars – 1/26/19

[Video: Zman]

Remember, sunscreen and aloe vera are your friends. Drink as much water as booze, and never stop dancing or smiling. Always be nice to coatis. Party on, Wayne! Party on, goodpeople!

Below, you can check out a gallery of photos from the second day of Panic En La Playa Ocho courtesy of photographer Dave Vann. As always, you can listen to a full stream of the show via PanicStream.

Setlist: Widespread Panic | Panic En La Playa Ocho | Riviera Maya, MX | 1/26/19

Set 1: Smokestack Lightning, Conrad, You Got Yours, Papa Johnny Road, Papa Legba > Papa’s Home > Climb To Safety > Papa’s Home (62 mins)

Set 2: Second Skin > Ribs & Whiskey > Party At Your Mamas House, Wondering, Jack, Surprise Valley > City of Dreams > Jam > Drums > Surprise Valley, Machine > Barstools & Dreamers, Henry Parsons Died (115 mins)

Encore: Street Dogs for Breakfast, You Wreck Me (11 mins)