By: Andy Tennille
Widespread Panic :: 09.28.07 :: Paramount Theatre :: Oakland, CA
Three-night runs are tricky beasts.
With all the pent-up excitement and expectations, Night One always comes off like a first date. The mood is electric, brimming with the anticipation of the impending three nights' festivities. Giddy concertgoers exchange whoops and high-fives on their way through the doors as anxious security guards eye them warily. Ushers meet fans and fans meet ushers. Liquor bars are located and bathrooms that present the most direct route from seat to stall are quickly identified. Levels are tweaked as the crew gets used to the room's acoustics and the band gets comfortable with their surroundings. While Thursday night's setlist looked solid on paper (especially with ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison sitting in for "Life During Wartime"), the band was a bit rusty from the week off after the Fall Tour opener in Memphis and it showed.
| WSP at Paramount Theater :: 09.28 by A. Tennille|
Night Two is where the rubber should meet the road. Friday night at the Paramount started off on the right foot with a tight version of "Happy" that segued smoothly into "Wondering," a tune Jimmy Herring has down pat after a little more than a year playing in the band. "Morning Dew" teases were afoot as Herring and Dave Schools traded riffs while the band slowed the tempo before winding into "C. Brown." Led by some inspired interplay between Herring and Jojo Hermann, "Pickin' Up the Pieces" > "Better Off" was the apex of the first set but "Down" proved to be the nadir, drummer Todd Nance's lifeless vocals sounding like someone karate-chopped him in the Adam's Apple seconds before he stepped to the mic.
"I've seen your sister naked, ain't nothing I'm trying to see," Bell cooed as Nance's bass drum kicked off the intro to "Ribs and Whiskey" to open the second set. Though not widely considered to be an extraordinarily skilled guitarist, Bell's slide work on "Ribs and Whiskey" was sublime – his solo after the first verse was tasteful and complimented Herring's sheets of guitar and Hermann's organ swells perfectly.
The second set was where Panic found their feet in Oakland. "Stop-Go" served as the springboard, Herring intertwining his leads between Schools' monstrous bassline. In the midst of this controlled chaos, Nance flipped the beat, Hermann pounced on his keys and "Pleas" was upon us. Friday night's treat came with "Vampire Blues," J.B. growling the song's unforgettable opening line, "I'm a vampire, babe. Sucking blood from the Earth." The rare gem from Neil Young's 1974 classic On The Beach was given the full, filthy treatment, Herring and Hermann trading solos back and forth. The dirty Panic and vampire vibe continued with the set-closing "Protein Drink" > "Sewing Machine," a Vic Chesnutt doubleheader that's become a staple in Panic's repertoire of late, and thankfully so – Herring absolutely shreds it.
| WSP :: 09.28 by Andy Tennille|
The sold-out crowd at the Paramount was expecting a bit more on Friday after a single-song encore the night before, and they got it with "Tickle the Truth" > "Love Tractor." The rust was gone. From the dark, menacing melody of "Tickle the Truth" to the exuberant joy of "Love Tractor," Panic emphatically slammed the door on Night Two, firing on all cylinders, the pistons primed for Saturday night.
09/28/07 Paramount Theatre, Oakland, CA
Set 1: Happy > Wondering > C. Brown, Can't Get High, Pickin' Up the Pieces > Better Off, Down > One Arm Steve > Worry
Set 2: Ribs and Whiskey, Stop Go > Pleas > Bust It Big > Stop Go > Vampire Blues, Airplane > Protein Drink > Sewing Machine
E: Tickle The Truth > Love Tractor
Continue reading for Kayceman's coverage of Night Three in Oakland...