After summoning the Kraken last year, Widespread Panic had some new tricks up their sleeves for the second night at Florida’s The Amp in St. Augustine. Saturday night was even hotter and swampier in the venue as the same rowdy crowd piled inside with the direct intention of getting down and funking out. As the first night was an absolute heater, the expectations remained the same for the night two.
Getting down to business, Widespread Panic played a tribute to their community of followers with the “Good People” from Earth to America. An added treat was sandwiched in the middle with JoJo including “Dark Bar” which was resurrected at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre run last month for the first time in almost a decade.
An exceptional “Space Wrangler” honored of late founding guitarist Michael “Mikey” Houser and was followed by “Steven’s Cat”. The slow tempo was accelerated as Jimmy Herring added his own flavor to the musical concoction. Dave Schools stepped to the microphone to lead the band through a performance of Vic Chestnutt’s “Sleeping Man” with its characteristic, double bass rhythm for the only cover of the first set.
The distinctive introduction and reggae sound of “Sleepy Monkey” finally returned to a venue on an occasion other than St. Panic’s Day. After New Year’s Eve in 2017, the song has only been played at The Theater at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD on consecutive years. The song is one of the band’s first original composition, and the audience roared its appreciation. John Bell’s vocals and Herring’s guitarwork brought righteous energy to the song’s exhausted protagonist.
Another brothers-of-the-road anthem of comradery “I’m Not Alone”–another Mikey creation–lifted the spirits of anyone feeling downtrodden as people joined in to sing in unison, “I’m feelin’ a little bit easier now, knowing that you’re all here!” To finish off the first set, the Panics executed a coup de grace with a knockout punch “Imitation Leather Shoes” based on Franz Kafka’s short story “The Metamorphosis.” This closing song channeled the energy of an alligator feeding and left the audience hungry for more.
Watch the band’s first set performance of “Sleepy Monkey” below.
Widespread Panic – “Sleepy Monkey” – 8/3/2019
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
Upon return to the stage following the set break, a false start to “Rebirtha” from 1997’s Bombs & Butterflies was adapted into a funky, improvised introduction. After a shaky start that the band laughed off in good nature, they picked up the pieces to complete the jubilant song in a persuasive fashion. A lengthy “Disco” manifested for the appreciative dancing living as well as the haunted souls of pirates who disembarked from the Flying Dutchman to take part in the musical plunder.
The plunder turned into a complete ransacking as the music transitioned into the first of two J.J. Cale songs with a sizzling “Ride Me High” with an extra side of glorious jam sauce. Like a high-speed train without brakes, this one-way ticket careened off the ramparts of Castle Otttis and crashed into David Bromberg’s infamous carnival ride “Sharon”.
To round out a seven-song, seventy-seven-minute second set, Widespread Panic divulged a monstrous “Machine”. Dave Schools’ mechanical rhythms were firing on all cylinders as the gears shifted between slow tempo and jolted acoustic assaults. Eventually, the music bled into a lightning version of “Radio Child” with an incredible Jimmy Herring solo that seemed to go beyond the realms of physics. To complete the second set, Widespread performed an intoxicating version of “Barstools & Dreamers” that extended and wrapped around itself, never-ending like a python attempting to swallow its own tail. Teases of “Guilded Splinters” encompassed the entire second set.
After a short break, Widespread Panic encored with a performance of BloodKin’s “Can’t Get High” before dragging another J.J. Cale’s cover, “Cocaine” out of the depths of Davey Jones’s locker. The tune popularized by Eric Clapton has only been played one other time by Panic on the NOLAween run in 2013. While the band kept jamming to “Cocaine”, JB wandered down a side street, off on a tangent, and started singing the lyrics to Joe Cocker’s “High Time We Went” Widespread hasn’t covered this since closing out Panic en la Playa Siete with it in January 2018.
Watch the band’s show-ending performances of “Cocaine” and “High Time We Went” below.
Widespread Panic – “Cocaine”, “High Time We Went” – 8/3/2019
Widespread Panic continues to include new tricks into their extensive repertoire, amazing and outstanding even the most veteran fans. They conclude their three-night run at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre tonight at Sunday Service. The tormented spirits of drowned pirates were appeased for the night, but there will be no promise for tomorrow. Never miss a Sunday show, good people. See you in the swamp pit!
Setlist: Widespread Panic | St. Augustine Amphitheatre | St. Augustine, FL | 8/3/2019
Set One: Good People > Dark Bar > Good People, Space Wrangler, Steven’s Cat, Sleeping Man (Vic Chesnutt cover), Sleepy Monkey, I’m Not Alone, Imitation Leather Shoes
Set Two: Rebirtha, Disco > Ride Me High* (J.J. Cale Cover) > Sharon (David Bromberg Band cover), Machine > Radio Child > Barstools and Dreamers
Encore: Can’t Get High (BloodKin cover), Cocaine^ (J.J. Cale cover), High Time We Went (Joe Cocker cover)
* “Riders on the Storm” tease
^ First performance since 10/31/13 at NOLAween