Widespread Panic -Red Hat Amphitheater, Raleigh, NC 6/5/14 (Show Review)

Widespread Panic’s Raleigh shows have become as reliable as the spectacular sunsets at Red Hat Amphitheater. The veteran band’s concerts in the Oak City are always an enjoyable escape, year after year, and this steamy Thursday night show was no different. In this case, the instrumental explorations were plentiful and the setlist was particularly remarkable, and the playing and singing was of a quality everyone has come to expect from the band. They’ve achieved a group mind, doling out their southern jam anthems with an almost unsettling ease that gives them the appearance of nonchalance even in the most unhinged moments.

After a slamming opening set by Galactic, Panic took the stage in the most relaxed manner possible and eased into old favorites “Porch Song”, “Space Wrangler”, “Holden Oversoul”, and “Driving Song”. The deep, dark jam space between “Holden” and “Driving” proved to be the spark the band needed to get the show rolling at full speed. The band brought on an automotive theme – “Driving” led into “Shut Up and Drive”, which bled into the slow-buring “Quarter Tank of Gasoline”. After a nice dynamic pairing of “You Got Yours” and “Pigeons”, plus a slinky version of the increasingly rare “Do What You Like”, “Travelin’ Light” closed the set, completing a quartet of road references.

panicraleigh2Set two was simply a load of classic Widespread Panic, replete with indulgently meandering jams and decidedly nostalgic song selection that helped make this a highly memorable show. The modest crowd was treated to a setlist that would have whipped Walnut Creek-sized mobs into frenzy just a decade ago. A raging 12-minute version of “Old Neighborhood” opened the set and turned into a fearless, psychedelic excursion led by Jimmy Herring’s acrobatic guitar and Dave Schools’ pulsating bass. It eventually calmed down and awkwardly petered out, prompting a run through quick-hitters ”One Arm Steve”, “Give”, and “Christmas Katie”.  “Let it Rock” signaled the end of the respite and the band blasted back into orbit with another lengthy jam, this one spurred onward by JoJo Hermann’s insistent organ and the percussion of Suny Ortiz and featuring some vocal improvisation from John Bell as well.

The triumphant strains of “Surprise Valley” signaled the set’s closing run, and it was an intense one. A foreboding jam out of “Surprise Valley” wound up facilitating a dramatic return to the majestic second half of “Driving Song” and the groovy “Breathing Slow”. Despite featuring Galactic’s Stanton Moore, the “Drums” segment went on far too long and nearly derailed the otherwise excellent set. Fortunately, “Surprise Valley” wrapped up the segment and “”Maggot Brain” > “Chilly Water” closed out the set in monumental fashion. The encore of “Contentment Blues” and appropriate “Knocking ‘round the Zoo” made this Thursday evening one of the better nights of Panic in recent memory, one full of limitless instrumental hijinks and time-tested songs.


idespread Panic
Red Hat Amphitheater
Raleigh, NC

Set 1

Porch Song
Space Wrangler
Holden Oversoul>
Driving Song >
Shut Up & Drive >
Quarter Tank of Gasoline
You Got Yours >
Pigeons >
Do What You Like^ >
Travelin’ Light

Set 2

Old Neighborhood
One Arm Steve
Christmas Katie >
Let It Rock
Surprise Valley >
Driving Song >
Breathing Slow >
Drumz >
Surprise Valley >
Maggot Brain >
Chilly Water

Contentment Blues
Knocking ‘Round The Zoo


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