The festivities began with an icy breeze that swept the streets of New Orleans in all its fall glory. The most skimpy costumes sheltered inside the UNO Lakefront Arena, where anxious excitement radiated body heat for those who could not be warmed by the whiskey. After the small team put the finishing touches on the Martian landscape that decorated the stage and the crowd got excited, Generalized panic took to the stage to thunderous applause.
To celebrate All Saints’ Eve, the rascals performed four tracks for the very first time, including the debut of a new original composition, as well as a recall selection of four songs.
John bell, dressed as âSpace Ghost,â greeted the audience before launching into a scorching âFishwaterâ opener, changing the start of the lyrics to, âGet off the train / Bring me here to New Orleans!
Another Crescent City-inspired track followed as John “JoJo” Hermann– dressed in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde costume – took the lead vocal for a catchy cover of “Bayou Lena”. The song is derived from John kennedy tooletragicomedy Confederation of Dunces, and includes aspects of the plot, setting (Night of Joy) and characters (Lana lee).
Related: Widespread Panic Pays Tribute To Duane Allman On NOLAween’s First Night With ‘Mountain Jam’
Continuing the interstellar theme, Panic threw his spurs into a raucous âSpace Wranglerâ. JB’s crisp voice was only surpassed by Jimmy herringrocket guitar riffs as the band traveled almost at the speed of light to keep pace. For the first of the evening’s four debuts, JoJo’s piano presented David Bowie‘s “Life on Mars”.
Widespread Panic – “Life on Mars” (David Bowie) – 10/31/21
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
Returning to the originals catalog, Widespread opened the door to “Holden Oversoul” for “A New Air / Grew a Full Wind / It Made Worlds Pass.” Jimmy Herring steered the shuttle toward the edge of a black hole’s gravitational field and manipulated the centripetal forces to launch a slingshot in an unusually funky improvisation.
What emerged was a sorry cover of Robert johnson‘s “Me and the Devil Blues”. Dave Schools maintained the haunting bassline as JB screamed his lonely desperation like a man with one foot in the grave and a bullet to his stomach. Herring took this traditional blues, dissected it with his electron scalpel, and spliced ââalien DNA into the genetic code from his deep roots at Dockery Plantation.
Schools giggled maniacally after a false start interrupted the introduction of “All Time Low”, admitting, “We have to do it exactly right!” It is a testament to the group’s work ethic; after three decades of touring, they still pursue perfection with every note.
After ATL (possibly in honor of the ATL Braves who competed in Game 5 of the World Series), the spirit of Halloween persisted as JB opened up “Pilgrims” with the lines “A black cat crossed our path. And then improvised, “It’s only the first time, this time.” JoJo’s piano cut the mix to tease Long Hair Teacher‘s “Red Beans” before ending with a final sparkle shine.
The second start of the evening followed after a brief break. This time it was original material. The dark but groovy composition was aptly titled âHalloween Faceâ. The lyrics suit the spooky theme: “Shake dem bones” to JoJo’s clavinet, “Dr. Jekyll’s skin” (a subtle nod to JoJo’s costume), “I’m gonna lick my lips and feast on the dead / they are so delicious to me. ” The song progressed through the crypts of the cobwebs, past JRR Tolkien‘s balrog, and ended with a final descent into the hellish abyss of a scorching underworld. “Halloween Face” gets my seal of approval based on the closing jam alone.
Generalized panic – “Halloween face” – 10/31/21
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
To close the first festive set, Schools hammered the heavy rhythm of “Imitation Leather Shoes”. The percussionists, Duane Trucks and Sonny Ortizâwho were disguised as Zaphod Beeblebrox from Douglas Adams‘ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and a Garbage Man, respectively, channeled their aggression to hammer home the melody inspired by Franz Kafkathe supernatural news of, Metamorphosis (“My little brother is an insect / he likes to crawl in his room / his mother shudders at the sight of him”).
Related: Widespread Panic Pays Tribute To Dr John On Second Halloween Night In New Orleans [Videos]
The dedicated audience refueled and refreshed, eagerly awaiting the second act. When the group came back from the shadows, it was to distribute another round of tricks and treats. Panic started the set with the third start of the night, REM‘s “Feel the pull of gravity”. As beginning rockers in Athens, Georgia, REM pioneered the scene and became a prototype for aspiring WSP musicians. In 2019, the REM Mike Mills joined WSP on stage during the Unforgettable Andy kaufman-Halloween theme.
The ensemble continued with a celebratory performance of Skip James‘”I’m So Glad” in honor of the group’s mentor, Colonel Bruce Hampton. On restart, Space ghost: coast to coast, Colonel Bruce expressed Warren the plant, who remained stoically on stage in his memory.
Defying the limits of reality, WSP began to build one of the most massive sandwiches to date. Like going out for a drink and coming back five hours later, the first half of “Driving Song” pulled out of the aisle and only returned almost forty consecutive minutes of music later.
The relentless flow continued with the fourth start of the night, “Zigzagging Through Ghostland”, a cover of New Orleans musical legends, Radiators (“Who knows what evil is hiding? The shadows!”). The jazzy number followed on to the more familiar clavinet sound of JJ Cale‘s “Ride Me High”. Schools brought Herring back to this dimension before dissolving the beat in favor of the spiraling madness of “Tie Your Shoes”.
Bearing in mind the wisdom of Daedalus, Herring flew away from ground percussion and introduced a soaring âSaint Exâ (âSaddle up the planet ride to the heart of townâ). The build-up and distribution of the song’s tempo and intensity was influenced by the incredible story of a German pilot taking down his favorite songwriter, Antoine de Saint-ExupÃ©ry-of the reputation of the Little Prince during the Second World War. Herring brandished his guitar like the Red Baron’s minigun, pulling notes with reckless precision into the acoustic space of the hall.
Almost an hour later and nearly running out of gas, WSP drove their vehicle home, guided by Sonny’s wind chimes, and into the second half of “Driving Song.” With barely a moment to think, Panic immediately sliced ââwith the jagged edge of George Clinton and P-Funk‘s “Red Hot Mama” to cut through the silence. (“Hot Mama from Louisiana …”)
Completing the second set, JB pulled out his mandolin for a tribute to Daniel Hutchens with Bloodkin‘s “End of the Show” before closing the frame with Black sabbath‘s “Children of the Grave”. Yesterday evening marked only the third performance of this cover. During the fall 2016 tour, WSP covered Black Sabbath and The doors in the weeks leading up to Halloween, and the LTP was touring Milwaukee.
Widespread Panic – “Children of the Grave” (Black Sabbath) – 10/31/21
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
The best treat of the night came last, but not least, as Widespread Panic took to the stage to revel in a selection of quadruple rappels. For the fifth time, Bloodkin’s âTrashyâ led the charge and each line seemed to take on a new meaning: âI’ll cross the cosmos once I buy a truck,â âLiving here on this street / every night is Halloween / My neighbor lights all the stuff or treats / with high voltage candy, ââ I’m a beaten rock and roll ghost âand don’t get into theâ time travel blast â.
Panic returned to his own repertoire for a consolidated double duet of “Surprise Valley” (“Goodbye, it’s time to fly”) and “Porch Song” – “Living the moontime” & “The man in the moon is a musician / This is how we spend the lunar day!
To close the All-Hollows Eve festivities, WSP wrapped up the 30-minute quadruple encore by honoring New Orleans jazz legend and musical idol JoJo, Long Hair Teacher. JoJo’s piano led the panics, returning to the previous tease, with a jubilant performance of “Red Beans” in its entirety.
For the late night crowd, George Porter Jr. and JoJo did an after-party at Tipitinas. For people crazy enough to try and work on Monday mornings, Sunday fears have hit hard as the countdown begins to their next panic race.
Next, Widespread Panic will perform November 17-19 at Chicago Theater before ending the year at the fabulous Fox theater for four nights of debauchery. Beacon kicks off 2022 with Panic En La Playa immediately thereafter. Have a good trip, Goodpeople.
Scroll down for a detailed performance roster and read our coverage of the first and second night of the Widespread Panic three-night run at UNO Lakefront Arena.
Setlist [via PanicStream]: Generalized panic | UNO Lakefront Arena | New Orleans, LA | 10/31/21
Set One: Fishwater, Bayou Lena, Space Wrangler, Life On Mars, Holden Oversoul> Jam, Me and the Devil Blues, All Time Low, Pilgrims, Halloween Face, Faux leather shoes
Second series: Feeling Gravity’s Pull, I’m So Glad, Driving Song> Zigzagging Through Ghostland> Ride Me High> Tie Your Shoes> Saint Ex> Driving Song, Red Hot Mama, End of the Show *, Children of the Grave
Still: Trashy, Surprise Valley, Porch Song, Red Beans
* with JB on the mandolin
– ‘Bayou Lena’ LTP 5/02/19 JazzFest (56 shows)
– FTP “Life on Mars” (David Bowie)
– ‘Me and the Devil Blues’ LTP 7/6/19 Brandon, MS (55 shows)
– False start towards “All time low”
– ‘Red Beans’ tease at the end of ‘Pilgrims’
– FTP ‘Halloween Face’ (new original)
– FTP “Feel the pull of gravity” (REM)
– FTP ‘Zigzagging Through Ghostland’ (The radiators)
– ‘Children of the Grave’ LTP 10/23/16 Milwaukee (149 shows)
– ‘Red Beans’ LTP 28/01/19 Playa (71 shows)