Widespread Panic at Bayou Music Center, 10/27/2013
There was once something in my life that was the best possible thing ever and was regularly available, but then I moved and it became much less regular. So I forgot about it, then I remembered it and I forgot how much I loved it, and it came back to me and didn't seem right at first but eventually made me remember why I loved it in the first place.
Anyway, Widespread Panic was and is that thing. With Sunday night's performance at a packed Bayou Music Center, the band's first in Houston in more than two years, they came determined to make up for their absence.
Let me preface this by saying that in my time of musical exploration, Widespread Panic were one of my "it" bands that influenced many different decisions and directions of where I was to end up in the spectrum. They were an alternative to "alternative," and I found a home in their music above many others.
It has been a while, though, since they've been in heavy rotation, and many other bands have come along to give me a similar satisfaction that Panic once did. Sunday's show was a return to my roots, though. It was an exploration of where I've come to since, and a remembrance of simpler days past.
The Athens, Ga.-based jam kings, who have been impressively playing to audiences for nearly 30 years, have had their ups and their downs over their career, but lately have seemed to have leveled off, playing to modest crowds on each stop along the way. They may not be headlining major festivals anymore, but they will never lose the die-hard following which will always help them pull in several thousand like-minded fans of the jam from night to night. At Sunday's nearly four-hour performance, Panic performed a set of mostly older material to the mesmerized crowd.
I don't know if I was lacking energy, the crowd was or the band was, but it took a very long time for the buzz to begin. The first set featured a slew of slower songs, including a cover of JJ Cale's "Travelin' Light," which was a bit toned down than their usual version. Not until "Space Wrangler" did the band really started to find their stride, but even that was a bit slower-paced than the norm.
The highest point of the first set came with the three closing songs: the rarely-played treat "Sleepy Monkey," the guitar-heavy "You Got Yours" and a set-closing "Action Man" that brought out the big guns from guitarist Jimmy Herring.
Review continues on the next page.