After a rainy return to Red Rocks Amphitheatre last month, Widespread Panic returned to the swampy side of the Mason-Dixon line for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Riverfront Park Amphitheater in Wilmington, North Carolina. The brand-new venue was still transitioning from an active construction site to a premier landing for concerts, but the kings of swamp rock had no problem breaking ground as the first nationally touring act to take the new stage.

Unlike the Red Rocks run, the blue skies and scorching sun were unrelenting, and the weather gave the Good People of the Panic community a chance to hit the beaches, breweries, bars, and boats of Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. By the time the band hit the stage around 7:15 p.m., the sun was setting and a cool breeze was blowing in off the river.

The men of Widespread Panic retook their positions onstage—on their throne—to jam out on the instrumental “A of D” before kicking the hornet’s nest with a raucous cover of Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”, the crowd’s reciprocated energy making it quite clear that this was the first show back for many of us.

Related: Widespread Panic Plays Full Set Of Bloodkin Songs For The Late Daniel Hutchens At Red Rocks Finale [Videos]

JoJo Hermann took the vocal helm for a rowdy telling of his first gig with the band on “One Arm Steve” before John Bell led the procession through an ecclesiastic performance of Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breaking Down”. The tune featured the Reverend JB performing an exorcism on himself throughout the breakdown and “Give Me Back My Wig” rap.

Back-to-back originals “Cotton was King” and “Holden Oversoul” warmed a farmer’s soul before Panic paid tribute to late mentor Col. Bruce Hampton with “Fixin’ to Die”. Although the song was written by Bukka White, it has been covered by Col. Bruce as well as Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, and more. A mellow “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” served as the penultimate song of the first set before an uplifting cover of Jerry Joseph and Glenn Esparza’s “Climb to Safety” closed out the frame.

During the set break, friends from all over the country searched each other out to give those much-needed hugs to their long-lost buddies as the sun set, plunging the audience into darkness.

Dave Schools, infamous for his patina of insouciance, returned to stage with a wry smile and began to tease the crowd with his bass before launching into a deep journey through “Second Skin.” A psychedelic transition morphed into a surprising first night cover of Dave Bromberg’s carnival ride, “Sharon”.

Widespread Panic – “Sharon” (David Bromberg) – 7/16/21

[Video: taperhead1]


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Widespread Panic (@widespreadpanichq)

The second set of heavy jams continued with a monster  “Machine > Barstools & Dreamers” before a soaring “Pigeons” took a kaleidoscopic flight over the river bend. JoJo took lead vocals for “1×1”, an artful retelling of the 1939 disaster when the Clear Creek Bridge collapsed and a local hero, Sugarman, jumped in to save as many victims as he could—pulling them out one by one.

Next, for only the seventh time ever, Widespread Panic performed the rare “New Blue”. JB took the reins for the slow, esoteric jam as it made its fourth appearance since being unshelved at the band’s acoustic run in Nashville in 2019. To flesh out the second set, a sprawling “Surprise Valley” encompassed a dueling “Drums” showdown between Duane Trucks and “Sunny” Ortiz.

Picking up the pieces of the audience’s shattered skulls, Schools and the boys hammered home a bombastic “Proving Ground” off the band’s second self-titled studio album. To close out the second set, Panic covered a rowdy version of the Neil Young-penned classic, “Mr. Soul”.

Coming back for encore, JoJo hypnotized the sun-baked audience with a mesmerizing take on “Nobody’s Loss” before the entire band jumped in to tie a bow on the show with the third Jerry Joseph tune of the evening, “North.”

Night 1 is in the books, as the weather forecast hints at more blue, sunny skies and more good tunes ahead. The best damn band in the world returns to the stage tonight for the second installment of the three-night Widespread Panic run at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater in Wilmington. See y’all on the lawn—I’ll be the one dancing barefoot with a beer in each hand… dunno if that helps.

For a full list of upcoming Widespread Panic tour dates, head here.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Widespread Panic (@widespreadpanichq)

Setlist [via PanicStream]: Widespread Panic | Riverfront Park Amphitheater | Wilmington, NC | 7/16/21

Set One: A of D, Lawyers, Guns, and Money, One Arm Steve > Stop Breakin’ Down Blues, Cotton Was King, Holden Oversoul, Fixin’ To Die, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Climb To Safety (58 mins)

Set Two: Second Skin > Sharon, Machine > Barstools & Dreamers, Pigeons, 1×1, New Blue > Surprise Valley > Drums > Surprise Valley, Proving Ground, Mr Soul (106 mins)

Encore: Nobody’s Loss, North (15 mins)

Notes – ‘New Blue’ LTP 12/30/2019 Atlanta (7th ever)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Josh Timmermans (@joshtimmermans)