Widespread Panic Returns to Rocket City Orion Amphitheater
Widespread Panic and crew returned to Huntsville, Alabama, for the first time since 2016, Memorial Day Weekend, to a new incredible venue built for sound. Those lucky enough to be in attendance were in for a Memorial run of shows in the Rocket City. Orion Amphitheater recently opened, and the 8,000-seat venue was in for a treat from the beginning. With pre- and post- events on the property, Huntsville welcomed the Panic Entourage with open arms.
FRIDAY, MAY 27
WSP kicked off the show with Neil Young’s “Rocking In The Free World” into a long and well received “Coconuts,” and the thrusters were cranking up in Rocket City. Next was “Holden Oversoul > Little Lilly > Cotton Was King” with Jimmy Herring shredding and jamming this song out to the fullest. “Junior > Pleas > Worry > Big Woolly Mammoth” closed the first set, and the Orion Amphitheatre was heating up nicely.
Second set opener “Dying Man > Fixing to Die” with heavy-duty jamming thorough the song and Herring and John Bell trading off jams with big smiles! This transitioned into a deep and dark “Mercy” with JB’s voice taking us with him. That went into Tom Waits’ “Going Out West” with Dave Schools pushing the energy levels to overdrive, and a dance party erupted as far as one could see. “Machine > Barstools > ChillyWater > Drums > Chilly > BD Reprise … Tom Petty’s “Honey Bee” ended the second set.
WSP returned with a three-song encore: “Hope In A Hopeless World (Pops Staples) > Expiration Day > Pigeons.” Wow, the six-headed monster continues to push the bar higher and higher. Night one in the books, ready for more, more, more.
SATURDAY, MAY 28
After leaving us with that smoking three-song encore, the boys would pick up right where they left off, opening with “Tall Boy” that had the Widespread army of fans up ready to rock and roll once again. Next up, a good ol’ “Henry Parsons (Bloodkin) > Wondering > Ribs and Whiskey” with Jimmy Herring’s lead and Schools’ bass penetrating inside and out of everyone. “Rebirtha (Schools Zone Heavy) > I’m Not Alone,” ending set 1 with “All Time Low.”
Second set and the gloves come off again, opening with Buffalo Springfield’s “For What Its Worth” into a very spacey “Stop Go” with Dave killing it over and over. Neil Young’s “Walk On > Walkin’ For Your Love > Driving Song > Surprise Valley > Driving Song” sandwich. “Honkey Red > Pilgrims > Postcard,” ending another smoking fire Saturday WSP!
Encore: “Tail Dragger,” JB with so much force and energy into another heavy-duty smoking “Halloween Face.” Just keeps getting better and better, heavier and heavier. One more to send everyone out the door in full frenzy: Dave Schools and “Flat Foot Flewzy” had us all singing at the top of our lungs and dancing the night away. WOW!
Outside the venue were incredible food trucks and DJs until 1:30. Ubers were easy. One more to go, but damn — Never Miss a Saturday Show!!! THANKS WSP!!!!
SUNDAY, MAY 29
Sunday service at the Orion Theatre, and “Never Miss a Sunday Show” is in play as always.
Opening up with “Rumble” would lead into Schools’ and Herring’s heavy-duty rock and roll “Conrad the Caterpillar,” and the crowd was getting up and down! Next JB would take us though an ever-so-sweet rendition of Willie Dixon’s “Weak Brain Narrow Mind” into JoJo Hermann covering Billy Joe Shaver’s classic “Old Chunk of Coal.” “Sleeping Man > Jaded Tourist > Morally Challenged (Brute)” ending the set with “Trashy > Jack > Love Tractor.”
Second set opener “DOWN > Chainsaw City,” Jimmy’s guitars melting faces throughout the song. “Good People > Dark Bar > Good People.” Energy is in overdrive, and WSP keeps the pedal down.
“Time is Free > Space is the Place > Fishwater” — always a favorite!>They ended with a long and heavy-duty “North.”
Encore: “Blue Indian > Traveling Man > WAKER.” Another three-song encore to send on another city!
Thank You Widespread Panic, Home Team, Pulse Lighting, City of Huntsville, and Orion Amphitheater!
SPREADROCKS IS NEXT!