Following up on his jealousy-inducing Vegoose review from last week, Teddy decided to write a completely separate account of Widespread Panic‘s fantastic Halloween show. We’d like to thank Teddy for his efforts…hopefully you’ve all been enjoying his content.
When a band fires on all cylinders, the vibe refuses to be captured on a simple soundboard recording featuring Special Ed yelling, “Dave Schools” between songs. Not to be outdone by the weekend’s festivities, Widespread Panic staged a Halloween show of epic proportions. Of course, calling it just a Panic show doesn’t do this night one iota of justice.
More accurately it could have been billed: The Crystal Method > Panic > Panic w/ Dirty Dozen > set-break CM > an absolutely nasty Superstition w/ everyone > Panic > Panic w/ DD.
Half a stadium full of Raoul Dukes, Screeches, French Maids and other assorted freaks danced to a memorable night of rock, funk, beats, jazz and blues, plus some fitting covers.
The first set started out rockingly with Love Tractor > Imitation Leather Shoes, followed by a cover the Albert King blues tune Born Under a Bad Sign. That was an interesting choice, considering the original cut of the song featured members of The Meters who reunited the night before. After a solid Time Zone and Papa Johnny Road, the horns arrived.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band deserves ample respect in their own right, but when horns hook up with Panic, splendid aural fusion results. In keeping with the Halloween theme, the second breakout cover of the night surfaced with Neil Young’s Vampire Blues. Bayou Lena should only be played with horns, because let’s be honest, despite being a master of the keys, JoJo can’t sing. Some stellar jazz work from the DD horns on this tune. The set closed out in force with Old Neighborhood and Weight of the World brands of dirty Panic.
The Crystal Method set break couldn’t fit into this evening any better. The Vegas hometown heroes showcased their trademark electronic hard-edged synth melodies and kept everyone getting down seamlessly with some deep, deep beats. The highlight came in the form of a Superstition mash-up that had the whole room rockin’.
DJ Method remained on the stage when Panic returned with the DD horns for the second set. Starting with Schools, the ensemble, in true DJ-esque style, melted back into Superstition with a sickening funk jam. After almost thirteen minutes of nastiness, the horns left the stage with DJ Method, and Panic proceed to into a raging Rebirtha.
George must have picked up a little something from Trey the night before, because he played with some seriously melodic chops during the jam. Another spot on segue brought the always-energetic Climb to Safety. After some evil, evil work by Schools on Monstrosity > Drums, the horns triumphantly returned once again.
Dirty Dozen adds an entire gorgeous layer to songs like Arleen. They simply complete it, and the ghoulish jazz fusion that followed took it to another level. The jam summoned Halloween spirits, while cutouts of goblins and coffins emerged and a backdrop with neon palm trees and other Vegas trademarks glowed in the background.
The Motown breakout covers continued with Aretha Franklin’s Spirit in the Dark, followed by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put a Spell on You. Another great selection considering SJ’s act often featured him emerging from a coffin carring a skull smoking a cigarette. A red-hot Fishwater closed out the second set.
Even more old school classics emerged in the encore with Percy Sledge’s Dark End of the Street and Martha and the Vandellas’ Nowhere to Run. The night concluded with an upbeat Coconut that sent everyone reeling with a s***-eating grin that can only be produced after an absolutely classic night of music.
Last but not least, thank you George McConnell for a hell of a job filling in for a man who couldn’t be replaced. This band’s vibrancy shines on, and the new music is only improving. Panic is back in full force.
October 31, 2005
Las Vegas, NV
1: Love Tractor > Imitation Leather Shoes, Born Under A Bad Sign, Time Zone, Papa Johnny Road, Vampire Blues*, Bayou Lena*, Old Neighborhood*, Weight Of The World*
2: Superstition**, Rebirtha > Climb To Safety > Monstrosity > Drums > Arleen* > Spirit In The Dark* > I Put A Spell On You* > Fishwater*
E: Dark End of the Street*, Nowhere To Run*, Coconut*
* with Dirty Dozen Brass Band
** with Dirty Dozen Brass Band, DJ Method on turntables