Widespread Panic, Washington DC, April 21
The more time I spend with Widespread Panic’s forthcoming Dirty Side Down, the more it sounds to me like the most comfortable album Panic’s recorded in a decade. If it’s taken this long for Panic to finish a document that feels lovingly stitched together, not “assembled,” and truest to their live mojo, so be it –- for me, it’s taken almost as long for Panic the live band to be as reliable as they once were.
No, it’s not that I haven’t had epic, soul-nourishing Widespread experiences in the post-Houser era of the band, it’s just that it’s taken a long time to be able to depend on them again. Catching the band early in the tour in mid-April, the second of two nights in the capital’s lovely Warner Theater, was affirmative. To JB, Jimmy, JoJo, Dave, Sunny and Todd: I’m buying.
It was a haphazard show with some marvelous moments – part of Panic’s appeal, oddly, are the groovy, ragged edges that contrast the fiery peaks and soulful zeniths – and it was enough to keep me convinced. It’s not a “the band is back” type of feeling, either; Panic never went away and recovered pretty quickly, all told, from a personnel tragedy that would have derailed, or at least neutered, a lesser band. It’s more that I’m not convinced Panic’s best days are in the rearview mirror. They have miles to go, mountains to climb. Nearly 25 years in, that’s pretty impressive.
READ ON for more from Chad on WSP in Washington D.C….