WIDESPREAD PANIC | FIELD OF DREAMS

Thank god for slow Mondays. Especially the Monday after going 10 rounds in 2 days with a rock band like Widespread Panic! It began pretty calmly. I don't think anyone knew what to expect. That may have been due to this venue, this Field of Dreams, as it was termed, was all new. About 35 miles of traffic, south of Denver, Larkspur is a small town in a very Republican county. After the show was announced and an on-sale date was given for tickets, a newspaper story came out in the Denver Post that quoted the mayor of the town as saying that nothing was confirmed and that the show was NOT going to happen. Well, guess she was wrong. Not only did it go off, (boy did it), it went off without a hitch. Other then the heavy high profile police presence, everything was smooth. The boys in blue did their jobs, they made sure we were all fine and had a good time.

First rumor heard of the weekend: "Panic bought the Field of Dreams!" Yeah, right.

We rolled in to town on Saturday about 1pm, the show was slated to begin at 3pm with two opening acts. Walking up a large hill we entered the venue from the rear. The stage was at the bottom of a gently, but noticeably sloping hill. Past the stage, all you could see were views of the stunning Colorado foot hills and blue sky! In a crowd that big (over 10,000), its easy to not see a lot of folks, and that's what happened to me. I spent the first set on the rail, and retreated to the soundboard spot for the second. The only really negative thing about this place was the dust. It was like a stampede, especially when everyone was getting down stomping their feet, all you could see was dust raising in the air and up our noses. Black boogers was the common thread in the crowd that bound us together, that and our love of ROCK AND ROLL.

Speaking of:

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08.18.01 | Field of Dreams | Larkspur, CO
Set 1: Party At Your Mama's House, Stop Breakin' Down Blues> Tall Boy> Little Lilly, Give, Don't Tell The Band, B of D, Little Kin, Fishwater > Papa Legba > Fishwater
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"Party at Your Mama’s" is one of those familiar instrumental warm up tunes that you know you know, but can't guess it until someone near you says “Party at your Mama’s?” and you go “ahhhhh yeah.” It gives Mikey a nice chance to warm up and boy was he warm, all weekend. Wasting no more time then necessary, the boys launched into "Stop Breaking Down Blues." One word: Swinging! Love this song, it really gets the hips moving in the crowd. JB’s voice was already in full growling form, ranging from his sweet highs when he sings “PLEEEESE....” to the loud low grumble of “Stop breaking down...” Schools lead the charge right into "Tall Boy," an often played but nonetheless crowd pleaser tune. The bass was really pumping at this point as Dave let loose with some of HIS chops to get us jumping. One thing I've noticed in my ten WSP shows this summer is how tight the band has gotten in their segues and tempo changes. Its nice to see some variety from this usually straight forward, IN YOUR FACE, rock band... real nice!

The segue into "Little Lilly" was really smooth. "Little Lilly" is definitely one of my favorite new tunes. JB’s voice was in rare form all weekend and you could really hear his high notes loud and clear. The old joke of “turn JB up” seems like an ancient fad at this point. If anything, I'd now say, turn the whole band UP! "Give" was a nice way to get the crowd moving again, though not as pumping as some songs. This set was already good. Even another rendition of the worst song in panic’s repertoire wouldn't ruin it. "Don't Tell The Band" . . . survey says : BAAAAAANG! Sometimes a GOOD band writes a BAD song. This one has a catchy, it will grow on you feel, but so did many of the New Kidz on the Block’s songs. (My opinions folks, if you like this song, I'm glad). Put it away. But thanks for the chance for a water/port-o-pisser break. I had a feeling that the band wouldn't linger on that song long, but I still did not make it back to our spot until after "B of D" began. Another nice instrumental, only less of a warmer upper and more of a ‘were still hot’ tune. Next, "Little Kin!" YES, I've been wanting to hear this tune for a while. It was like the bathroom break song never happened. Again, JB’s voice was in full scream for the chorus. Showing his range “He’s his Mama’s PRIDE...” in a high, piercing, yell and back down to the low for “He’s his daddy’s last heart break." Hands waving in the air. Feet stomping the dust. Claps and yelps by those that can't contain the excitement. This is when JB really woke up. Many agreed that it was a JB night, more on that when I get to second set. But from this point on, it was JB that was in charge and everyone seemed to be fine with that, myself included.

How do you end a first set? Well, you could bring everybody down to help save some energy for the second set, or you could plop down a greasy, phatty, NASTY Fishwater sandwich and say, COME AND GET IT! At this show you'd have a feeding frenzy. The Spreadheads were ravenous. "Four train days!" Mmmmmmmm tasty. “And I still want more! (Mo mo mo!) Moooooooooooor, I still want more.” The grin on JB’s face (pretty much all weekend) was priceless. This man wears his emotions on his sleeve, and the emotion he was channeling through his voice was pure ecstasy. “What?” you ask, was the meat of this tasty set closer sandwich? How about a little David Byrne? Yet another cover that Panic manages to make all of their own, "Papa Legba" let JB flex his voice as Sonny and Todd kept up the pace from Fishwater and Schools kept up the lead bass lines that only he can really pull off. After an extended jam that was a treat to hear in the first set, the transition back into Fishwater had fists pumping in the air and even more dust raising from the ground (and up our noses). The wide-eyed stare on most peoples faces left little doubt that this was a first set to remember!

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Set 2: Chilly Water > Imitation Leather Shoes > Chilly Water, Goin' Out West, Greta > Stop-Go > Drums, Sometimes, Big Wooly Mammoth, Love Tractor
E: Use Me, Cream Puff War
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Second set began where the first left off. "Chilly Water" started with a tempo change. JB voice was leading the rhythm with a smooth approach. He began slowly, “In the easy chair with my boots on....”, again, crisp and smooth, “Melted whiskey in my hand...” The band played to match. The beats were easy, allowing JB’s voice to be out front. The pace accelerated slightly, “...I couldn't have been asleep for more than three hours, Time to go to work again.” [me today] This pace quickly jumped up to full throttle “Gimme some of that COOL COOL WATER!” Perfect way to end a HOT HOT day. Then BAM! "Imitation Leather!" Rock and Widespread PANIC Roll! “I don't want to take it... ANYMOOOOOOOOO” screamed the crowd in unison as the band launched into a full get down jam. (“Back into Chilly?... maybe!” crossed a few minds) Yep. When you have a feeding frenzy in progress, what should you do? If you're WSP you throw in some more greasy hippy guts. No appetizers here, just another big sloppy sandwich to start the second set right.

"Chilly" wound down and Jo Jo and Schools were on the same page as the bass line began and the keyboard intro started "Going Out West," a song that Tom Waits wrote, Eric Clapton covers and Widespread perfected. Not so perfect this day. The rest of the band missed the start and Schools kept playing but Jo Jo got slightly tripped up by the late start of his mates and started over which elicited a few smirks from Dave and JB. A nice breeze was blowing in and the lyrics provided perfect timing. “Going out west where the wind blows tall...” JB’s growl shook my bones. Looking back up the slope, all you could see were freaks getting down, and as the last verse came up, we all shouted, “I'm goin' out west where they'll appreciate me.”

I stated that JB was ON. By "on," I mean not only did his voice resonate to the core of my soul, as it always seems to, but JB was tweaking the lyrics, “SHE looks good without a shirt on!” How many pairs of tits do you think got flashed in the front after that line? More then enough is the correct answer. "Greta" came next, and at this point the band began to waiver a bit. They were not as ON as during the first set or the beginning of the second, but Jo Jo belted out the lines nonetheless and the fans responded accordingly, we danced. The off key feel was forgotten for a brief moment as a nice "Stop Go" began. The Jam out of it and into Drums (which, once again, I CALLED) was not so seem-less. I joked out loud, “I'm calling drums,” as JB left the stage. This girl next to me turns to me with an “oh my god, did you see those tee shirts?” “Yep, I love those,” “I made those tee shirts!” “Cool, I want one.”

“Why do they play Drums, every night?” a cheese loving fan asked? Good question. I used to think the Dead did it just so the serious trippers would have something to do, but I’m not sure why Panic continues this tradition. I believe there was a "Bullet the Blue Sky" tease by Dave in the latter part of Drums as well.

"Sometimes!" JB knew his voice was on, and this song lets him stretch it. After hurrying through it, or muddling through it, we got some more Jo Jo. "Big Wooly" was fun to hear. If not the best version, still fun. The notable portion of this version came when Jo Jo sang, “Somebody throw me a lighter!” multiple lighters, water bottles and other projectiles were launched, reminding us that this band is indeed from the ruff and tumble south, and also sending JB scurrying for cover behind the biggest shield he could find, the Bass Player. Even Mikey got up to duck. But the band played on, and Jo Jo sang “So we can burn this city down.” "Love Tractor" was the closer, though played with gusto and always loud, the band seemed to hurry though it, maybe so they could go back stage and re-group, or something. Well, I'm glad they did, because all mistakes or lapses were forgotten and forgiven. The groove intro to "Use Me" elicited whelps and whoops from all over the 12,000+ thousand strong crowd. “My Friends....” JB started. This is a song I'd not be upset to hear more often. The wind was kicking at this time of the night, so some of the sound was muffled, but from in front of the sound board it sounded like, again, the band was letting JB take it. As he sang, his voice loud and clear, the band grooved on in the background. Then as the first chorus ended, JB looked over to Mikey and you could here him say, “Lets go” and just like that the band kicked it in with Mikey leading the way. The funk was almost too much. The crowd again responded in the correct manner, we "kicked it the fuck down!" Sometimes a band likes to end the set with a calmer downer tune, sort of a warm down, not this band on this night. "Cream Puff War" began with a thud and ended with screams from at least 10,000 voices. “This is a Jerry tune?” one fan near by asked. “Yep,” but Panic once again made it theirs. They rock this tune. It ends with a white noise cascade that fills your ears and shakes your body. Like we needed more shaking.

An all night party ensued...

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08.19.01 | Field of Dreams | Larkspur, CO
Set 1: Heaven, The Waker, Tie Your Shoes, Don't Be Denied, North, Action Man, Machine> Barstools and Dreamers, Thought Sausage
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Day two began slowly but ended with tons of surprises. The weather was kind, and a blanket of clouds rolled in to shield us from the heat of the sun but no rain was felt. Perfect! How did the band respond? Oh, they played a perfect first set! Don’t tell the band, but this set was much better then the whole first night!

The opener was the first surprise. "Heaven" as an opener? You bet. This Field of Dreams felt like Heaven. Perfect opener after a party like the night before. "The Waker" followed, another great sing along tune. “And I’m higher then you’ll ever be...” Maybe. JB’s voice was still warm from the night before and Mikey let us know that he was still ready to play as well. "Tie Your Shoes," another fairly rare song, kept up the energy that the fans were matching, with out wearing us out too early. I had thought I heard "Hatfield" teases the whole first day, and then again in this set. It seemed like Mikey was about to start the opening notes as the drums settled into a groove. He was looking up at JB and JB just looked at the crowd, grinned, and then different notes began. Smiles filled the air. People hugged, people screamed. Some people looked puzzled. “When I was a young boy...” I asked before the weekend began, “Do they ever play ‘Don’t Be Denied’ twice in a tour?” NOOOOOOO WAY. Yes Way! I got my first ever at Paolo Solari, the first show of my summer of Panic, and now they were giving me a second helping to end the summer. I LOVE THIS SONG! I thanked JB for playing it before the Red Rocks show and he responded with, "Thank Neil Young." Of course.

The grin on my friend Krupp’s face was all I needed to see to tell me what most of us were feeling. Cheers of glee were heard at the right moments during this soulful but powerful tune. “We started a band . . . We played all night!” WHOOOOHOOOOO! We were not being denied anything this night. The few folks that missed the mid week version in New Mexico were overjoyed to get another chance to hear it. I got hugs from quite a few psyched friends at set break in honor of this rendition. I hate to say anything negative in relation to my favorite Neil song but I have to mention, that’s twice JB’s muffed the lyrics to this song. First time he sang, “A millionaire through a billionaire's eyes” in New Mexico. This time he goes: “A businessman through a millionaire's eyes.” Close, but its “A millionaire through a businessman's eyes.” Maybe he was just tweaking it still. This was not his only mistake, but I can forgive, not a problem. It adds character to his singing, as long as its kept to a minimum. ;-).

Once our insides were taken care of and we were all warm and fuzzy, the band decided to get the out side of our bodies warm. "North," "Action Man," "Machine"> "Barstools and Dreamers," "Thought Sausage!!!" All amped tunes. All loud. All GOOD. "North" is one of the great new tunes. My man Johnny Walker, was in full get down mode. His exuberance was contagious. I had so much extra energy I couldn’t stand still. By the time I stopped moving, I was 10 yards from the stage! "Action Man" to follow upped the ante, and "Machine" was pure evil. Schools was the lead through this volley of Rock and Roll. By the time "Barstools" hit us we were all a sweaty dancing mass of excitement. How do you end that set? You simply “STIR IT IN THE SAUCE!” "Thought Sausage!" Best new heavy tune, for sure. Played a LOT, but never boring. Fans everywhere were pumping fists, throwing bows, shaking their heads, and basically looking like they were possessed by the devil or some close relative at least. If you tried to walk anywhere during this song, you were risking a punch in the mouth or maybe a black eye depending on your height.

Gotdamnthatshitisgood! There were no noticeable lapses in this set. The whole band was ON, not wasting a last show of the tour opportunity to flex their musical mussels. Jo Jo responded to JB’s excellent singing by belting out his tunes when they came up, and his playing matched the intensity. Schools was his normal otherworldly self on the Bass, JB’s voice and playing were excellent, as we would more then see in the second set. The rhythm section did not disappoint either. Sonny on the congas was a mad man at points, breaking sticks as fast as he could pull them out and Todd held the bottom as good as any drummer can. It was Mikey that left the greatest impression on me as he jammed well enough to make it notable on more then one occasion. Mikey is NOT your normal lead guitar player. That has been discussed and will continue to be, but for now, lets just say that he has his OWN sound, which is the sound of WSP, and he plays it well. But sometimes he can surprise and sometimes he breaks out of his normal melodic noodle and he lets it go. I’d like to see more of what he did in "Watchtower" on other songs.

Oh yes, that was the second set:

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Set 2: Surprise Valley, Casa Del Grillo, Who Do You Belong To?, Visiting Day, I Walk On Guilded Splinters > Drums > All Along The Watchtower, Pigeons, Porch Song
E: Lonely Avenue, Dear Mr. Fantasy
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"Surprise Valley" aka the Colorado Anthem. “Kiss the Mountain Air We Breath!” Not a surprise that they played it at all, but still nice to have as an opener. This is one of my top five favorite Panic tunes for sure. They played it for the encore of the 3rd night at Red Rocks, lyrics on the poster, etc, yeah, I’d say its fitting to hear in Colorado. (And so what if I heard it 4 times in the last 8 shows, right?). "Casa" is another lovely song that some use for a bathroom break, but others use to really hear JB sing. His voice resonates beautifully and the change from rock and roll to Spanish fiesta is musically appealing. "Who do you..." was maybe the only weak point of the second set. I like this song, but in relation to the last 8 prior songs, its really just a segue/sing along tune.

That segue was all the sweeter as Jo Jo again fixed the mic to his face for "Visiting Day." What a great tune. Jo Jo sang like it was his job for this song. “And why can't we just take a look around us? I want to see the things that make you smile.” Great message for all to hear. I looked around and I saw a whole hell of a lot of things that made me smile. Short pause, then the band starts with a little jam, making us wait. I heard "Guilded" for a second, but then a friend said, “Red Hot Mama” and sure enough, they were in that groove. But then they kept the jam moving and played with it. We like it when they play with it. The jam slowed then JB started to play the slide. That’s when we knew that they were teasing us with "Red Hot" and "Guilded Splinters" erupted. “Some people think they jive me, but I know they must be crazy.” The funk was ON and JB’s voice was back to the growl. “Walk to me, get it, come, come.” We were getting it and then some. Dr. John would be proud of this rendition. Loud, Dirty, Angry, but ohhhh so sweet to get down to.

The jam seemed to go forever and JB was possessed on the slide, taking the lead and going with it. Tweaking the fret, bending it and massaging it with the slide, not ever wanting to give it up it seemed. But it had to end, and it moved into, yes, again I called it, DRUMS! I had to check into the Port-a-Pee once again. I got back in time for a Schools "3rd Stone from the Sun" jam out of drums. You could see a look on Dave’s face, a sort of ‘its my turn’ as the band rejoined the stage.

Delaware apparently was just a warm up because School’s and company played a sweet version of Dylan’s "All Along the Watchtower." This is probably the most lyrics Dave sings. He did a fine job, but it wasn’t the lyrics that made this tune shine. Mikey’s playing was top notch. He flexed and stretched from his usual box of comfort and let us all know that, yes, he is a guitar player!

At some point around this time, a Glowstick "skirmish" broke out. It looked like one person began by tossing out MAYBE 30 glow sticks. Maybe. After the show a "Panic-only" focused friend asked, "What did you think of the Glowstick war?" Sorry folks, I've seen MUCH better and MUCH BIGGER. That is why I called it a "skirmish." If you want to see a "WAR," be sure to buy your tickets when they go on sale to the next big Phish show (yes I said Phish). Yes, it will happen, don’t you worry. And when it does, you will see what a "glow stick war" really is. I’ve seen more glow in one section or a couple of rows at a Phish show (Vegas) then in this supposed war. Besides that, its not that hard to figure out that throwing glow STICKS can injure someone. If your going to buy a bunch of glow, buy glow necklaces for Pete’s sake! They don’t hurt and they look very very cool when accompanied by 5 or 600 more. (30 is being generous, there were maybe 20 really.) So I gave the skirmish a C+ (A for effort because it lasted for half a song, but if your going to do it, do it right, otherwise it just looks like a bad copy and NO panic fan would want to be accused of copying a Phish thing, unless maybe they did it better.)

Back to the music: How do you follow up the second ever "Watchtower?" How about a "Pigeons?" This song is a great WSP song. Its got everything you want, great lyrics, changes, soul, rock, and a bit of irony (inferred). By the time the "Porch" closer came up, I was pretty spent. Another good WSP song, and this was the time to ease us down a bit. It was still very dusty and my legs were slowing down.

The band wasted no time to come back for the encore. JB gave us an extended JB-ism when he said, "Thank you everybody, we had a great time, its dusty, don’t forget to brush your teeth before you go to bed" (or something close to that), in his southern rasp. "Lonely Avenue" was an odd choice for an encore to end the tour, but hey, rock stars do odd things. It was strange to hear WSP play what is basically a Jazz ballad, but change can be good. Like the change into "Dear Mr. Fantasy!" Change is good. The change from ending last years tour with a Low Spark to this years Mr. Fantasy was nice. Keeping with the Traffic theme was cool. I love "Low Spark," but I’ve heard much less Dear Mr Fantasy’s. JB’s voice was still in prime form and the whole band was grinning during this song. So were the fans. Who wouldn’t grin after getting a "Don’t Be Denied," "Watchtower" AND "Mr. Fantasy" all in one SHOW?!? NOBODY that knows and loves music is who.

It easy to say, "Best show ever" right after it ends. I think for real that the 2 first sets were the "best two first sets in a row ever," that I’ve seen at least.

Three years in a row that WSP has ended summer tour in Colorado, I guess if the rumor was by some chance true, we will be seeing this happen again. I have a feeling that it will happen again no matter what the case is. Come see panic end the summer in grand fashion if you did not make Aspen, Keystone or Larkspur the last three. You won’t be disappointed.

Michael Sutch aka the Ghettofunk man
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 8/21/01]

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