GOIN' OUT WEST WITH WSP | PART III | MIKEY DAY

His Spirit Moves In All Things | 8.07 - 8.10 | The Warfield | San Francisco, CA

It's true, Mikey's spirit does move in all things. It's with me in everything I do, and everything I see and it ALWAYS will be. Some of you may think perhaps I am being a bit melodramatic, or a touch oversensitive, but if you know me, then you know it's true. I walked into a dark hallway a year ago... and while I knew it wouldn't last, I wasn't sure Widespread Panic would either, but I think it's safe to say that PANIC IS BACK (for as long as they want to be).

August 10th, 2003 at the Warfield Theater was perhaps THE most important day ever in Panic folklore. I would agree that there have been days of equal importance. Days like that small Deep South Spring Tour leading up to 4.28.02 at Oak Mountain. Or maybe Summer Tour in 2001, or even all of 1997, but in the end, there has never been a day that has held more weight, or been more important. I have never awoke after a sleepless night and felt a deeper need to be with JB, Schools, Sunny, JoJo, Todd and my Panic faithful than August 10th, 2003. In the course of this four night run taking us from Thursday the 7th to Sunday the 10th, I encountered every emotion imaginable... and I could see the same on the faces of our fearless leaders.

I really wanna feel like I'm supposed to


By Pamela Rody
Thursday, August 7th found us in the company of family as we walked our way into four nights that would last a lifetime. The Warfield was warm, inviting, a bit crowded, but full of love. As if there could be any other intention than Mikey on this run, the message was clear as set one of eight ended with "Wondering" > "Stop Breakin' Down Blues," "Down," "Weight Of The World" > "Barstools and Dreamers," "Give" > "All Time Low." It doesn't take a genius to see what JB and the boys are thinking here. I think we've all been movin' to the "Weight of The World" these days, and to get the heat rolling with "Give" ("I think we better give before we take our lives") bleeding into "All Time Low" seemed to say it all.

Kicking off set II with "Knockin' Round the Zoo" on their only Thursday show of the tour was more than fitting (as the lyrics go, "Knockin' round the zoo, on a Thursday afternoon"), but it was the rousing "Proving Ground" that allowed us to slip back into that familiar place. As the evening moved forward it seemed clear that everyone, band and fans, crew and crowd had an eye on what was to come. And although there was a touching acoustic middle section featuring "Pickin' Up The Pieces," and "Coconut" as well as a great "Grandma's Hand's" rap inside "Stop-Go," it seemed clear that Thursday was a warm up for where we were headed.

Sometimes underneath the load is where I show my best


By Eric Leaf
Friday evening, the band wasted no time, and I believe they really never let up. Starting a show with "Imitation Leather Shoes," and "Bowlegged Woman," screams "dirty HEAT!" Believe me, it was hot inside the gorgeous Warfield. But I assure you, the nasty didn't end there as "Diner" > "Little Lilly," and "Hatfield," took over and wrapped around each other. George nailed "Diner," and "Lilly" found her way inside "Hatfield" as JB took his vocal stylings way outside and allowed "Lilly" to reappear in the most unlikely of places.

As the Panic beast was swarming we found ourselves in a second set Neil Young sandwich. It started with "Are You Ready For The Country?" and ended in the dark haunting fashion of "Tonight's the Night." In the middle of this mayhem Panic was kickin' ass, but all the while keeping us tied to Mikey (of course). "Ain't Life Grand" was found in the middle of "Dyin' Man" and "Me and the Devil Blues" which was followed by "Makes Sense To Me" and "Pleas." "Ain't Life Grand" has such a dual meaning. At times it's straight up "Life is amazing, and don't you ever forget it." And at others it seems almost tongue in cheek... sort of sarcastic, and it almost always has touches of both. When it was found in the middle of "Dyin' Man" and the bluesy JB-sellin'-his-soul-at-the-crossroads "Me and the Devil," it seems to be, at the very least, equal parts, if not weighing heavier on the dark.


By Adam Gulledge
"Pleas" contains some of the best lyrics I've ever heard. I could write an entire story on how this song has affected me. For now we shall just realize that the importance has grown immensely over the past year. Since Mikey left, it's damn hard for me not to cry when I hear JB sing, "They say it takes hardship boy/To let you love the rest/Sometimes underneath the load/Is where I show my best/Go, go put your work clothes on/Go and leave your mark/And they say/Don't let it get too dark." And inside the Warfield it was the same as always as the hairs on my body became alert and I was forcing the tears back to where they form. "Cream Puff War" was the schizophrenic madness that it is, allowing for some serious head spinning. After a rockin' "Junior" the first ever showing of The Meters' "Cissy Strut" was a huge highlight that allowed the weight to lift for a moment as the Warfield got looooooose.

Lest we forget why we are here, the band finished the evening with Young's heavy tale of his roadie overdosing - "Tonight's the Night" - only to be encored with another dose of "Slipping Into Darkness" leaving little room for interpretation. It was death, and more death, followed by the Panic staple (adopted from JJ Cale) "Travelin' Light." Although Friday was an intense evening, and probably as good as just about anything I'd seen as of late, the entire run, tour, and year seemed to be building to one single evening.

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens

Saturday was Jerry Day, and while the band continues to keep us guessing by busting "Cream Puff War" on the 8th as opposed to the 9th, we still had some Jerry. You just had to pay attention.


By Eric Leaf
An acoustic first set was not a surprise, and again proved impressive. There is no other band that I've ever seen that can whip a crowd into a frenzy in their "acoustic" setting. But Panic ain't any other band, and they have made it clear for more than 15 years that they can do whatever the hell they want, and they can do it damn well! Starting with "Send Your Mind" was wonderful, and a song I'd been longing for. The whole set was strong, but it became increasingly impressive as it rolled on. From the emergence of the reworked "fast" "Mercy" (which is flat out awesome) things began to gather momentum and take on a life of their own.

From JB crying out yet refusing to beg for mercy, we went "Dirty Business" > "Heaven," "Blackout Blues," "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature." "Dirty Business" indeed. Us Spreadnecks have been known to dance on the dirty side (sometimes a bit too much), and then "Heaven." The tears began to find my eyes during "Heaven." Couldn't we go back? Can't we have a place where it won't change, where everyone is there? WHERE MIKEY is still playing that song over and over... where NOTHING EVER CHANGES?

Coming out of the dream state of "Heaven" and being forced to realize that here on earth life does change. Sometimes the harder you hold, the more it hurts we find our friend (and our enemy) the bottle. That's right; from the touching tear jerker "Heaven" into the drinking anthem "Black Out Blues." Knowing who y'all are, and the people I was pushing around there in the Schools Zone, it's more than clear that I'm not the only one who finds solace and relief in Jack Daniels... sometimes it's just our way.


From widespreadpanic.com
To wrap up a rockin' acoustic set we grabbed hold of "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature." Now I had been screaming for this track since I was in Tahoe a few weeks earlier. In fact I'd been beggin' for it so long that my boy that I've been rockin' this whole run with came running down the alley and laid a flying forearm to my back. I spilt my drink and turned around with half laughter and half fire only to find my brother saying, "This one's for you! I had to come find ya!" Although it was acoustic, it was one of the best damn versions I've ever heard. JB nailed the fast lyrical section (which I've heard him drop more than once) and the band backed him in epic fashion. I even heard touches of "China Cat Sunflower" coming out of Schools as he tipped the hat to Jerome. It was a party... and EVERYONE (even Mikey and Jerry) was there.

Set II on Saturday evening found the "new" Panic in peak form as they became electric and swerved in and out of classics causing a full bore melt down in the theater. It started with "Nebulous" off Ball and it was dark from note one. After that, it was on! "Chilly Water" > "North" > "Jam" > "Driving Song" > "Ride Me High" > "Drums" > "Tears of a Woman," "Driving Song" > "Chilly Water" > "Jack" > "Radio Child." Creating a mish-mash of "Chilly" and "Driving" will always send me (not to mention "North" and "Ride Me High") and on this evening it was as good as it's been in a long time. JB was all business on "Chilly" and the "North" was full of anger, and rage. Before I knew what hit me, the opening notes to "Driving Song" signaled a very serious set. JoJo came hot and heavy during "Ride Me High" and Schools was a MONSTER all weekend.


By Adam Gulledge
It's no secret that Dave Schools is a huge Grateful Dead fan, and on Jerry day one would expect him to have a few ideas up his sleeve. Somewhere in the madness of the second set Schools was touching on "Playing In The Band," "China Cat" and my friends said they even heard "Terrapin." The set was so hot that I encountered what we call a full case of "The W's." I've mentioned "The W's" before, and what this means is complete madness. When you don't know What song it is, Were you are, Who is making what noise, Why this is happening, and What the hell is going on! This is Widespread Panic. Think about the name... it says it all.

Schools went ballistic with his "Tears of a Woman" jam and "Driving" came full circle in gorgeous form before "The Venus light was rising" and "Chilly Water" erupted. Cool cool water was flying overhead and everybody was freakin' out... and it felt so damn good! With no time to waste George killed "Jack" and you better look out for "Radio Child." I'm serious, if you turn your back, if you think your safe, "Radio Child" will sneak up on you and make you pay.

This was a very intense and very serious set of Panic. Before the encore I was speechless. I didn't know what to do, or what to say, I had just been abused by WSP. Always the consummate professionals, and ALWAYS knowing what to play when, they straight up used me, again. Now this "Use Me" wasn't as striking and dirty as the huge one in Los Angeles the previous weekend, but it was still a perfect choice. The evening came to a close (at least the show came to a close) with "One Armed Steve" and the Panic Pure were left to linger and speculate about the day to come.

I feel a little bit easier now knowing that you're all here

It seems in some way that everything that ever was, has led up to this point. This whole tour, this four night run, and perhaps every day for the past year has brought us to what will forever be known as "Mikey Day."


By John Croxton
Sunday, August 10th was a difficult, emotional, memorable and, above all, a wonderful day. I had a tear in my eye and a sense of urgency in my body from the moment I awoke. I didn't know what to expect that evening, what to think or what to want. And in the end all I needed was to be able to walk into the Warfield and be with the band and all of you. To be able to get angry, sad, mad and happy all in the course of a three-hour show. To be able to push and scream, smile and jump, punch, hug and cry. THAT IS WHAT I NEEDED. Mikey, JB, Schools, Todd, Sunny, JoJo and now George have become my family, my guidance on these dusty roads, and on August 10th I needed them more than ever.

Me and mine took our usual spot in the Schools Zone (this time one level off the floor for space concerns) and took to this day in the only way we know how. We were preparing all day, and by the time we found ourselves at the first note, we were rowdy as hell. We've been known to scare a few people, and perhaps annoy one here and there, but this is Panic, and this is Mikey Day, and we we're gonna celebrate in grand fashion.


By Pamela Rody
The house lights went down and immediately the plethora of candles that had been handed out in front of the venue lit up. Lighters and candles filled the room, and the energy was visible, palpable and ominous. We hadn't even heard JB's voice yet, and already I was choked up. Looking at the stage covered in sunflowers and the Warfield illuminated in candlelight, I knew Mikey was there... and if I'm not mistaken so did John Bell.

The scene and the vibe inside the Warfield that evening was like nothing I had ever been a part of. Sure I'd been emotional at lots of shows, and I've probably been just as loud and crazy... but there was something else... something I can't really put into words... this was the first Mikey Day we would ever celebrate. Jerry Joseph's "Climb To Safety" was the icebreaker, and it kicked things into high gear immediately. JB didn't look up for quite some time as this tale of recovery and pain, friends, danger and life in a dark place took the Warfield into a raging rock show within moments of the band taking the stage. From "rising out of the water, and grabbing each others collars" we moved straight into the Panic classic, "Pigeons." Schools thumped this hard and nasty as JB drove the words home: "What it's like washing windows when you know that there are pigeons on the roof!"


By John Croxton
Things were already getting crazy and it was only the second song. There seemed to be such emphasis on every little detail, not to mention the band sounded better and more determined than I have heard all year. As "Can't Get High" covered us all, I took to staring at the amazing Warfield ceiling. I didn't look down for more than a few words throughout this entire song. An image of Mikey began to materialize in my mind, and stayed with me the entire evening. I could see him up on stage with his head down and his hair blowing just over his shoulder. His eyes are closed and his hands are traveling the neck of his guitar. I could see him so clear that it felt real. JB screamed, "Now that you're gone, I'm sober every night. I can't get high, just can't get it right." This happened to be the first time they've played it electric since Mikey died, and hearing it at this very moment was damn near religious for me.


By John Croxton
Schools took over the lead for "Blight" and it was as heavy as you could imagine. I began to be lost in the dark side of Panic as the harmonies of "Blight" were eating away at my sanity, and before it got too dark "Rebirtha" broke through. Dancing through "Rebirtha" and sweating up a storm, that heavy feeling took on a different feel, and all of a sudden it was a party. No longer was it time to focus on death, it was time to dance for life... and we did, every single one of us. Keeping us on the up, the Mikey made "Porch Song" really did find us "having a good time" 'cause it's NEVER the wrong time. As "Porch Song" started I wondered if they would give us that four-minute throwaway version, but those fears were quickly squashed as they went super-extendo style. I had to imagine that no song on this evening would be disposable. Every note, every word and every moment seemed to be of the greatest importance, and it was.

Before the sun could break free and blind us JB snapped us back to where we were, and "I'm Not Alone" took me to the brink of tears. His voice spread out over the entire theater as we hung on every sound. JB took this heartbreaker as far as he could, and the pain was more than visible on his face. It was not quite business as usual on stage, but it was strictly business, they were all wearing it... and so was the crowd.


By John Croxton
Set I closed with Mikey's last song "Travelin' Man" and a ball bouncin' "Goin' Out West." The manner in which this band can balance dark and light, pain and celebration, is beyond my comprehension. They seem to know exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. And in the second set they gave it to us ten fold.

Set break allowed for stories of Mikey, thoughts of where we've been, and how far we've all come. On a day such as this emotions run high, deep and wide... and to be with family is what we need, and I couldn't have been happier to be where I was, with the people in that theater. Looking around at the faces I was with, the ones I knew, and the ones that I realized just KNEW, allowed for a comfort that I had never expected. I was surrounded by family old and new, friends close and far. It was a celebration of Mikey, of Panic, and of each of us. It was the reason we do it, and it reminded me why I love it so much. And before I could get too nostalgic "Thought Sausage" and "Action Man" reminded me that it was time to start roughing all these nice friends of mine up.


By John Croxton
We got real dirty in the second set. Moving around, sweating everywhere, dancing hard and heavy, pushing and shoving... that's right, rockin' out to Panic, (and I got real scars to prove it). After we ran the race with "Action Man," "Casa" took us through a Spanish villa and allowed a moment to breath as all the sounds were becoming one. Right around here is where things reached terminal velocity and it became an absolute blur of color, light, sound, and yes again, emotion.

JoJo and "Disco" lit the Warfield on fire as my posse was doing back flips in the alley. As the party was raging, JB brought out his gun and let "Greta" run free. At this point people started to either hate or love us as we almost broke out into a fight. I don't know how to explain it, I think you either get it or you don't. And it doesn't mean you don't like Panic if you don't like to get rough, but when we heard "Greta" my group of freaks went nuts. Shit got dark and demented in my section, and I loved it.


By John Croxton
As "Greta" kicked her way into "Drums," P-Nut Daniels made a showing on percussion, and at some point guitar ripper and black magic man Eric McFadden emerged for a serious brain fuck. When I heard the twisted sound of "Maggot Brain," I knew we were in trouble. I don't really know what happened from here on out. "The W's" were working me over and I was blinded by the music. All of a sudden there was this New Orleans funeral vibe. It was like being in the bayou and celebrating the life of a musician who had just left this earth. Shit, it wasn't LIKE celebrating a musician's life New Orleans style, IT WAS! Throughout this madness one thing I do recall is looking over at one of my friends who was holding himself up on the stair railing with his draw dropped open and his eyes staring into left field. McFadden's voodoo style joined up with George and JB and they were completely destroyed everything in their path, including my friend on the rail. Out of "Maggot Brain" (which hadn't been plaid in 130 shows) JB led us through the trials and tribulations of "Aunt Avis." Struggling to remember "how to be good how to continue when I feel I really shouldn't." Could there be a more appropriate song for Panic on this day?


By John Croxton
Staring at our demons and struggling to move on we found just what we needed and she came in the form of one seriously "Red Hot Mama." Never a band to pull any punches, and never a group of guys to keep it clean, we went "R Rated" and things got pretty gritty as this girl danced all over us, spending up money and looking for places where fun could be found! Now as a little side not for those of you who may not be paying attention, "Maggot Brain" is a George Clinton song as is "Red Hot Mama" and as you may or may not know, McFadden now tours with Clinton's band. So to sandwich "Aunt Avis" in the middle of these two George Clinton songs while trading licks with McFadden proved to be yet another touch of Panic genius.


By John Croxton
The set ended with "Pilgrims" and "Love Tractor." Do I really need to hyper-analyze "Pilgrims?" I think not. It was a quintessential Mikey song, and one George has busted his ass to bring back. Tonight it was as good as I've heard it since that Telecaster touched us all. We found the levers in "Love Tractor" and they blew it wide open leaving us gasping for air.

The triple encore was flat out perfect. Again questions were swirling as to what we would hear. And although I almost could have guessed the first one, the final one was the exclamation point, and the final reason why this band will never be eclipsed in my mind. "Can't Find My Way Home" seemed like it had to be played. JB walked us through this one pulling water to my face, and stretching my heart as far as I would let it go. I no longer found myself in a room of more than 2,000 people. During "Can't Find My Way Home" and the gut-wrenching tear inducing "Gradle" it was me, the five people I was hugging and the band. I had tunnel vision and selective hearing. I was with my closest friends, my dearest band, and the spirit of Mikey. I was completely overrun as Panic took out "Gradle" for the first time in 109 shows. With the stage covered in flowers I thought there was a chance we'd hear this rarity... but by this point I had stopped speculating and was just allowing it to unfold.


By John Croxton
As we were drifting off with whispers of angels and the sounds of "Gradle" Sunny came back to remind us that this is a party! Fireworks blasted from the drums and the band summoned all that is Panic with "Fishwater." I couldn't believe they were taking it back up. After "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Gradle" I didn't think it was possible to get the Warfield raging again. Boy was I wrong. They finished off this absolutely epic day with a nasty-dirty, growling "Fishwater." I think I did three hot laps around the entire place and drank the bar dry before JB finished screaming, "Still I want more more more." You're goddamn right JB, I WANT MORE!

Before the band dismantled the Warfield and my mental capacity, there had been so much speculation on what would happen. Would there be a special guest? Several? None? Would it be a cry fest? Would it be an angry rock show? Would we hear "Vacation" or "Gimme"? And when it was all said and done none of this mattered. I didn't hear a lot of what I expected, but it was even better that way. That's Panic. You almost always have ideas of what you'll hear, or maybe what you want to hear, but they always manage to do it different, and they always bring it home. There may be some bands out there that have better musicians, or more technical ability, but there ain't a band in the world that tries harder. And no band satisfies like Panic. It's like my newly converted friend said to me, "No matter what happens with this band, they are the best team ever." God bless 'em... My hats off to you and to you and to you.

Due to the magnitude of this evening and the meaning that dripped from each word and each note we shall conclude with a quick break down:

Set I
Climb to Safety: We must grab each other's collar. We must rise out of the water. And you know as well as I do, it's no fun to die alone. Climb to safety. After all that I've been through, you're the only one that matters"

Pigeons: We've all been waiting we've been wondering will we ever know the truth?

Can't Get High: Now that you're gone, I'm sober every night. I can't get high, no I can't get right.

Blight: But I was scorned after little ado/Tossed right out into the blue/I set into a downward spiral/Caught an illness that was literally viral.

Rebirtha: As the Heroes take the hill

Porch Song: The man in the moon is a musician that's the way we pass the lunar day

I'm Not Alone: And then I turn a little bit scared/Well, I feel a little bit easier knowing that you're all here

Traveling Man (last song Mikey ever wrote): It's all in my mind I got a brand new start all I can do is take care of my heart

Going out West: I don't need to make it up, I got real scars

Set II
Thought Sausage This stuff ain't ready yet!

Action Man: Side by side, souls of kind, different world/Hearts of gold, limbs of steel, Man-Of-War

Casa Del Grillo: Remember all you love/On Earth and not on Earth/Be the same even with those you love/Angels and angels waiting to be (English translation)

Disco: (Well we gotta just party too... this is Panic)

Greta: All the pictures on the wall have fallen to the ground/This Ain't No Flower Child/How's it gonna be?

Maggot Brain: I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the Universe/And was not offended/For I knew I had to rise above it all/Or drown in my own shit

Aunt Avis: How to remember how to be good, how to continue when I feel I really shouldn't

Red Hot Mama: She was badder than bad, bad as she want to be/Ride on red hot mama girl

Pilgrims: We left superstition on the roadside a few cities ago/They spent our souls, maybe, but they didn't take our smiles

Love Tractor: Tryin' to remember where all the levers are/I've got enough fuel this time/I've got enough fuel this time to remember

Encore

Can't find My Way Home: You are the reason I've been waiting all these years/Somebody holds the key/Well I'm near the end and I just ain't got the time/And I'm wasted and I can't find my way home

Gradle: Time plays a roller coaster/Not afraid to ride itself/Never takes adventure lightly/Always stops enough to let us on for a ride/We don't have any pocket change/We've danced out of all our clothes/Want to give everything every minute/Give it all before we go/And the angels whisper, PAY NO MIND

Fishwater: And I still want more/I still want more more more/STILL I WANT MORE!

There are strong bands, tough men, and legendary artists that would never have embarked on a future after one of their founder's died. And on Sunday, August 10th this band of legends could have very easily been home with their own families, but perhaps they knew we needed them, and maybe they needed us. In light of all they've sacrificed this year, how far they've come and just how damn good they are, a special thank you must be sent to JB, Schools, JoJo, Todd, Sunny, George, all of you who were there (in presence and in spirit), the "Home Team" crew, Brown Cat, and of course to Mikey... see y'all in New York.

The Kayceman
JamBase | HeadQuarters
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Read Part I and Part II of GOIN'OUT WEST WITH WSP

[Published on: 8/19/03]

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