Widespread Panic Crushes One Night Heater in Richmond

Melissa Brugh Photography


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There are a lot of changes in life. Friends, family, cities, you name it, some things change. One constant in my life has always been music and few bands embody why I love music so much as Widespread Panic. The Athens-based band has been the soundtrack to many of our lives for decades now. The party has been going on many spirits strong for 30 years now. Panic’s community is one of the best so it came as no surprise that Richmond would be extra special for the family vibes as it was a hometown show for Dave Schools. Since this wasn’t a two or three night run in Richmond the boys packed all the punch into one heck of a Friday night show.

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The show opened with a Panic classic, “Little Kin,” a hard rocking classic followed by an even heavier song, “Henry Parsons Died.” Herring and Schools locked in to demolish this from start to finish. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Parsons is one that Jimmy simply obliterates to pieces with his high pitched bends and vibratos. “Wondering,” a Panic party anthem, and “Walkin’ for Your Love” were two well placed old school songs for the early first set before the newer JoJo song, “The Poorhouse of Postive Thinking.” The party really started with a hefty “Ribs and Whiskey” which was met with great crowd enthusiasm. “Junior,” “Rock,” and a heavy hitting “Thought Sausage” concluded a strong first set. While the opening set was strong it wasn’t until the second set that the band took us to that very special place.

“Conrad the Caterpillar” was a standard straightforward rocker to kick things off. The boys changed gears for a slower song, “Jack,” which featured a solid, yet standard jam. The hard rock riffs fired away with a “Dyin’ Man” to get us warmed up for a fat and juicy second set segue sandwich “Machine > Barstools and Dreamers.” This was a standard version of “Machine” that included stellar percussion from Sonny. The seamless segue from Machine led us right into a flurry of Schools bass bombs to kick off a menacing rendition of the much loved “Barstools and Dreamers” which featured a full JB “Satisfied” rap. These 14 minutes were very memorable in the context of such a great set.

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There was no room to pause from that “Barstools,” Panic decided the energy must keep coming. Whenever Panic covers the Dead it is quite the treat, the 10+ minute long “One Kind Favor” cover Saturday night was not an exception. The band has only played the song 37 times in their career (though it was performed 10 shows before for New Year’s Eve). The extended jam highlighted JoJo’s dexterity on the ivories. The jams continued for the backbone of the band “Drums & Bass > Bass > Jam.” Schools had plenty of time to lay down the bottom end in his hometown while Sonny & Duane locked in for a strong “Drums.” It should go without saying that it is sad Todd won’t be with the band any longer and even worse that he didn’t play the 30th anniversary shows in Athens, but the “Duane Train” is doing a spectacular job on the throne.

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An improv jam right out of drums led by Jimmy’s lead took the band into “Up All Night” before a “Don’t Sing the Blues,” which has only been played eight times by the band. Most of us were caught off guard when they performed an outstanding version of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” It seemed as though that would be a great send-off for the crowd before the encore, but like they’ve done so many times Panic just keeps giving its fans a little bit more! Once again, schools commanded his bass with the opening bass walk to “Love Tractor.” The song exploded and ended with an explosive build up with the Duane Train ripping the throne as fire licks locked back and forth between Schools and Herring. The “Schooooollls” chant rang loud, “Are you booing or chanting my name,” asked a joking Schools.

For the first encore the band once again visited a rare cut that hadn’t been played since NYE, “Hallelujah.” To seal the deal on a great night of Rock and roll was a gritty cover of Vic Chestnut’s “Protein Drink > Sewing Machine.” The boys walked off the stage and once again we were all reminded of why we see this band so many damn times. Panic is a true Rock and roll band and the improvisational spirit coupled with great songwriting takes them to levels some other bands simply can’t reach.

Setlist via Panicstream

1: Little Kin, Henry Parsons Died, Wondering, Walkin’ (For Your Love), The Poorhouse Of Positive Thinking, Ribs And Whiskey, Junior, Rock, Thought Sausage
2: Conrad, Jack, Dyin’ Man, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, One Kind Favor > Drums > Jam > Up All Night, Angels Don’t Sing The Blues, Heroes (DB), Love Tractor
E: Hallelujah, Protein Drink > Sewing Machine
[‘Satisfied’ rap during ‘Barstools and Dreamers’]

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