Most Important Shows of The Decade

Widespread Panic | 04/28/02
Oak Mountain Amphitheatre | Pelham, AL

Photos of Widespread Panic at Oak Mountain on 04/28/02 by Jackie Jasper
As far as anyone knew, this was it. By all accounts, Sunday, April 28, 2002 at Pelham, Alabama's Oak Mountain Amphitheatre appeared to be Widespread Panic lead guitarist and co-founder Michael Houser's last concert. It was the final night of a brief eight-show spring tour that felt like, and in many ways was, the "Goodbye Houser Tour." Although not an official word had been uttered, most fans knew that Houser had contracted pancreatic cancer, and one could tell just by looking at him up close onstage that his time was drawing near. Although he would bravely perform seven more shows as he began the spring tour two months later, at this point, Sunday at Oak Mountain looked like the final one.

The venue, set in the heart of Panic Country, was packed with 10,000 serious fans and there was a tension and energy hanging in the humid Alabama air unlike anything I have personally ever experienced. The band rose to the occasion; from song selection (there wasn't a dry eye during the "Trouble" encore) to execution to the Jerry Joseph guest appearance, it was nearly flawless and one of the best shows of the band's legendary career. But it was more than just that. It was the way the weather coincided with the music, making it feel like bandleader John Bell had created rain during "Cortez The Killer." It was the undeniable sense of community. It was the bittersweet, sad-yet-grateful feeling for the opportunity to say goodbye properly and rage it one more time. It was the weight of it all. Standing at Oak Mountain, bitter tears and warm rain washing over one's face, wrapped in arms from friends both old and new, truly believing this was the final Houser jam, it felt like we were part of history on that day. (Kayceman)


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