Words & Images by Jake Krolick

Widespread Panic :: 08.05 & 08.06 :: NTELOS Pavilion Portsmouth, VA

Widespread Panic :: 08.05.06
We are officially spent, our backs ache, voices are hoarse, legs are sore, and we have those unexplained bruises from dancing hard and banging into the backs of plastic seats. These are the battle scars we'll wear for the next few days as a remembrance of the music. It's been a number of years since I've felt like this after a Widespread Panic run, but it's damn good to feel this kind of pain again. I can't express how glad I am to have caught these shows with the line-up the way it currently is. There is a week left of Summer Tour. If you're a Panic fan who missed Michael Houser the second he left the stage, do everything in your power to see these shows.

Widespread Panic :: 08.05
(L to R): Holt, Ortiz, Keane, Bell, Schools
The whole weekend experience in Portsmouth, VA was wonderful. Saturday evening was charged by a feeling of the past. The night and the music had Michael Houser channeled directly through it. By the end of the "Weak Brain, Narrow Mind," we realized we were witnessing something incredibly special. These feelings continued to hit us in wave after wave of Panic bliss. Seeing the band have so much fun and hearing them each express themselves in a space of musical comfort was a moment in the making for over four years. Honestly, every song elevated the mood, so by the time "Action Man" landed we thought our heads would explode.

John Bell :: 08.05.06
John Bell said it best later in the evening when he barked out the JBism, "Well aren't we having a wee bit of fun?" Bell was alive and kicking all night, tossing out his signature arm flourish like he was throwing feed to the chickens in the audience. His tender but weathered voice was a welcome cry both evenings. "Blight" was JB's chance to howl up at the half-moon sitting low over the back of the amphitheater. His voice will always touch a special place in our souls.

Percussionist Domingo 'Sunny' Ortiz and drummer Todd Nance each played with incredible heart and a fluid grace unrivaled in the world of percussion. Each seamlessly wound thumps and punches into the evening of music. David Schools sported tan shorts and a sexy "Home Team" tee. He dropped almost as many smiles as he did blasts from his bass. He also sported some new speaker d├ęcor, including a Barron Von Richter car riding in the old Godzilla spot and a piece of silver "WO" bling.

John Keane was one cool cucumber all weekend, hanging back in the shadows only to pop out like some wonderful musical whack-a-mole adding perfect searing touches. His grin never ended, and I suspect it stayed around until the wee hours of Sunday morning. Jojo's mojo rode high and mighty. He banged the keys with a gusto we've missed, creating a hail storm of flame at the end of "Big Woolly Mammoth."

Widespread Panic :: 08.05.06

Sam Holt & Jojo Hermann :: 08.05.06
Sam Holt... WOW!!! Sam made me feel like I could wait a little longer for Jimmy Herring to jump on board. I love how Sam not only emulates Michael Houser's tone and aptitude to bend and stretch notes, but also his anti-rock star persona. He sat tucked-in on the left side of the stage, shy and unassuming. He interjected such amazing solos that we begged for mercy. Saturday night was gritty, raw, raging, and dark. During "Ride Me High," I vaguely remember seeing folks flipping the band off and screaming, "Why won't you let up!" Ahhh, it was just one of those wonderful Saturday evenings. The second set ended on such a wild note that the encore kick-off "Heaven," the normally slower Talking Heads ballad, was actually rowdy. It pulsed with an energy one only finds on a Saturday night. "All Time Low" ravaged any remaining muscles. Sam laid us out so hard that he definitely deserved to relinquish his crew duties and have someone else break down after the gig.

Sunday's pre-show music began with dub beats and some sort of wild air-raid siren. The validation we were looking for struck early and with a fury. Sam delivered like a mailman with a rabid dog on his heals, placing all the right notes before sending the "Holden Oversoul" screaming into the sunset solo of our dreams.

John Keane & John Bell :: 08.05.06
The rest of the first set had a funny pace; at least I had trouble aligning to the song placement. The strong moments that stuck out came during a long, sauced-up "Guilded Splinters" intro that featured some of the best drum and bass link-up I've heard in a while. The other was during "North." Sam Holt leaned into Keane and said a few quick words in his ear. Keane shifted over to John Bell, gave him a quick look as if to say, "Follow me," and Bell flashed that same look across to Dave. With a coax from Sam's guitar, it was on. He tore off into a wild jam with the rest of the band in hot pursuit. JB was so excited his legs started twitching in a subtle and less rhythmical Elvis-style move.

Sunny & Schools :: 08.05
The set break was longer than Saturday, but the come-back was a one-two punch. "Slipping into Darkness" featured Steve Lopez (one wild drummer) joining Sunny on bongos to beat the hell out of the skins. The whole stage shimmied to the left with Schools sliding in front of Todd and Sam placing the squeeze on Keane. Sam and Dave locked eyes, sandwiching Bell and Keane in a musical hoagie. Keane and Bell went at it like school boys fighting for turf in the school yard. They locked axes happily, battling through the end of "Slipping into Darkness." There was a lot of pointing and smiling when it was done, and in a wink Sam let fly that classic opening dance into "Sleepy Monkey." The Panic session was very reminiscent of Fiddlers Green only instead of JB going into a "Three Little Birds" rap, Sam fed the monkey a Jagermeister and Red Bull, wildly winding the song through a wailing jungle. "Bowlegged Woman" found Keane, Bell, and Schools linking up as Dave slung the beast up on his shoulders for a trudge into the deep end.

John Bell :: 08.05.06
"Drums" started as it usually does, but soon took an unpredictable turn. Sunny was joined by four crew members: one in front of him, two between his percussion rig and Todd's kit, and another on Todd's kit. The drum session kicked into high gear around the tenth-minute when Sunny slid off the bongos and onto Todd's kit for a heated link-up with Dave. The moment ended with JB giving thanks to the four crew members, Sunny, and Schools. Having the crew join in the music really epitomized the meaning of Home Team. Sunday was all about the extended family. The second set powered through some amazing songs, including "Life During Wartime," a "Visiting Day" that had the whole crowd screaming "I'll be your best friend if you can get me high!, and a "Bowlegged" that rose up from a deep fiery chasm.

The longer we listened, the more the excited we became. Another thought grew as well. It wouldn't be right to not pause and reflect for a moment on someone else. George McConnell had a really wonderful moment on this stage just a year ago. See, if it wasn't for George stepping up to keep the Panic spirit going, we might not have made it through one of the most difficult and trying times to get to this weekend. He was able to keep a smile and a feeling of reassurance that we could overcome some tough times. George, here's a tip of the hat in your direction. Thank you.

Sam Holt & Jojo Hermann :: 08.05
This past weekend and these remaining few shows leading through Chicago are priceless points in the chronicles of Widespread Panic. All day Sunday I heard people comparing Saturday evening to past years: '93, '95, '98. The emotions from my first shows in the '90s found a way to come rushing back into my life. On Sunday during the "Mr. Soul" encore, I tried to convince myself that I could somehow afford a grand to go to Chicago, another feeling I hadn't experienced with Widespread Panic for a number of years (the urge to drop everything and just find a way to the next show).

The future is most certainly uncertain, and whether you are sad to see George go, happy to see Herring enter, or just feel they shoulda given Sam a damn chance already, the fall will bring something new. But until then Sam Holt is on the squad and he's channeling a day we thought was gone. It's a sound you've heard before; it's the sound of the Home Team. It's the sound of Panic.

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[Published on: 8/8/06]

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moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/8/2006 03:54PM
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Nicely done, Jake. Wish I could have been there...

freakrockin starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/8/2006 04:44PM
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You are right..I only made it to sunday but it was one of the best shows ive seen in years. I had bruises myself. Anyways cant wait to see what Jimmy brings to the table for the two shows in Charlottesville in late Sept.

jimmymc starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/8/2006 05:05PM
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Did not see Saturday or Sunday, but it was also in the air Friday Nite at Merriweather. I didn't know if it really happening or if was just me. Thanks for the confirmation!!! Most definately catch a show if you can!!!

beadiamondsomday starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/8/2006 09:54PM
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was lucky to be at both shows, i for one, know what the panic was about and that something needed to happen, having said that i am now a george hater at all. i actually loved him. i was concerned about the mood on stage, or if sammy knew that material that well, at least more than the D's, porch, gimme, machime-stools, and you get the point, HOLY SHIT he fucking ROCKED, all that was talked about in the community after just the first set was how amazing the chemistry was, they all were having a blast and it showed. JB looked so happy and was rowling a bit louder for us it seemed. sammy killed USBG a song w/ not much guitar work, especialy on E2A. i have some friends that hated that song until sunday, the whole weekend was amazing, i admint to being HEAVILY under the influence of drugs that make sitting in a living room w/ a good suround sound one the best times, and w/ great friends, but after taking it in and sitting back(still d/loading, so haven't heard them yet) i truely believe they were two of the best panic shows(IMHO those are the best kind) i have seen in years...rock on panic and thank you sooooooo much

KerryH starstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 05:12AM
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I was at Merriweather on Friday and both shows in Portsmouth. Friday was awesome. Saturday blew Friday out of the water, and Sunday was just out of control! I loved George, but what they've got going on right now is incredible. They are on FIRE!!

Great review!

wharf_rat1 Wed 8/9/2006 05:21AM
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I saw the show in Indy last night and I have to agree with the first poster. I was REAL impressed with the job Sam Holt and John Keane did. John is cool. Just kinda hangs back and rips it up! I wouldn't be a bit disappointed if these two guys stayed on for good. No disrespect to Jimmy Herring. He's a mighty fine upcoming addition.

NickBoeka Wed 8/9/2006 07:06AM
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Is it possible not to have another Panic review for this tour? I mean seriously, I know they're popular and all, but in jambase's attempt to cover the scene is it really neccesary to have 2 or 3 reviews a tour from one band, and none from other marquee acts touring right now? I come to this site so I can get my scoop on whats going on in the SCENE. If I wanted to read/hear about every little piece of wsp gossip and news then I would get on their boards.

On a side note, I am happy to see a super quick turn-around on this story. Shows took place this weekend, and its Wed and getting a review. That's how it should flow more often. I know its user contributed, but reading stellar reviews of a festival or show that happened last month leaves the power of the story and images a little left-of-center. Especially if you were there.

Im not complaining, just offering some honest criticism so we can all help make this site THE number one resource on the web for our scene now.

FormulaOBX Wed 8/9/2006 08:09AM
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Blown away Sunday night....had a great time even though saw a many googled eyed vomiters.The after party "chillin at the Holiday Inn " with Guta and Formula kicked ass.Thanks Panic for keeping it real.......until next year.Portsmouth loves some Panic.

G$Love Wed 8/9/2006 08:14AM
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"Sam Holt... WOW!!! Sam made me feel like I could wait a little longer for Jimmy Herring to jump on board. I love how Sam not only emulates Michael Houser's tone and aptitude to bend and stretch notes, but also his anti-rock star persona."

I hate to say this, but I find it lame when anyone emulates another musician, is Panic a tribute band now? I thought there was nothing lamer than Jimmy Herring trying to emulate Jerry Garcia when he played with the Dead. I mean the guy is a bad ass, why make him try to sound like Jerry??? I hope when he joins Panic he breathes new life with his fusion chops and unique voice on guitar.

treehugginpanicfreak starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 08:55AM
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Thanks, great review. Makes me really want to see a show with Sam Holt, something I haven't had the chance to do yet. I'm wonderin' why we haven't heard from Kayceman lately. After all is settled with the latest developments in the world of Panic, we do expect to hear your take on all that has gone down, Aaron.

nwilso starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 08:57AM
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I got to see Saturday and may I say thank you. It was by far the best I've seen or heard in a long time. Me and my frend Mike were talking about this during and after the show. We couldnt believe the energy that was taking place before us. What really made the show was the fact that before the show we were hanging out in the Will call and this guys comes over and starts passing out wristbands and talking about being cool. We'll we played it cool got some wristbands and ended up backstage for a meet and greet with the band. Unbelievable how down to earth these "rockstars" are. Couldnt ask for a better fan to band relationship and I hope that it last for a long time. Again I say thank you.

Pinchy75 star Wed 8/9/2006 09:11AM
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Ya great review by jambase. Now panic is living in the past. Why dont they release a greats hits with all the old music! Glad the band is turning into a has been playing all the old stuff and nothing new. I guess it is probably easier to float on by playing songs that are 15 years old instead of coming up with something creative. Widespread Panic = Van Halen. George please put a band together so I can see something new!!

tnfreaker starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 10:14AM
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Hey pinchy, listen to to1st night of portsmouth, no living in the past, crushing the present. They played 3 or 4 songs of e2America. Sam Holt should be the guy. He was out there by himself for Visiting Day and Impossible, it was the best Panic I've heard since the 1st Bonnaroo. Sam Holt, Sam Holt, Sam HOLT, HOLT, HOLT,HOLT, HOLT!!!!!!

phunkle starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 10:25AM
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I'm fairly new to the Panic scene but was fortunate enuff to be at Portsmouth for both nights, both this year and last. Last year with George was smokin, and I was worried how this years' shows would be with all the band shake-up. Man, they blew me away this weekend! The chemistry was sooo evident and I still haven't stopped grooving from Sun nite. I can't compare to Mikey shows but it's hard for me to imagine how much these shows blew last year away. Sam was amazing, and Keane was great too, but the chemistry seemed to let the other guys really soar. The second set from Sunday is about the best set of music I've ever gotten to see live. Jake is right on the money that the shows in Portsmouth this w/e were truly something special. Get copies of the shows if you can!

phhil starstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 11:19AM
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I was at these shows, they were sick. I just think three guitar players is a little much. Are they gonna keep three on when Hering comes? Who has to leave? I hope it's just Herring and JB, or Holt and JB. The band is already big enough. Why have 3 guitars?
I'm glad these shows got good reviews, but why are so many spread heads and reviewers so stuck on wanting to hear a show that sounds like a show from the 90's? I understand Mikey was loved very much, but let the past be and look forward.

blower starstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 11:25AM
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Pinchy-Seems like they just put out two new albums. You are full of it.

Sam does sound like Houser because of the rig he plays, and emulates him to a point mainly on rythm. He should when he is playing for Panic. He also brings the heat big time. The shows have been the best in years because Sam rocks, not becuase he sounds like Houser.

People would know that if they STFU and listened to the music instead of complaing about a band that they don't like anyway. It is not a competition, music a team sport. Go talk about a band you like and spare us!

G$Love-Obviously Jimmy Herring was getting paid to sound like Jerry. I agree and hope that he brings his own feel to WSP and not be a Houser copy,except for the hard rocking rythm parts.

Without recent events in the band this tour would not have covered repeatedly on Jambase.

eask starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 01:41PM
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sam is the shit.

greengrass starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 04:12PM
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Sam Holt is tearing it up with Widespread Panic!! Don't forget he plays in what I think is the the next great band Outformation. Outformation starts touring the day Panic get done so if you miss Sam tearing it up with Panic or want more Check out OUTFORMATION. I recently saw them in Denver at Cervantes they have their own sound but damn it sounds good.

gazzy starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 05:15PM
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Hey Kayceman,
Invite this guy up to 10klf to write an article. Obviously, he is passionate about his panic. This was an amazing story and review. Great job, I felt the sound in your writing. I am going to download the show right now. Now, that is what Jambase should be, passion for the music, the people who provide it, and take it in. Best story on this site.

Ching starstarstar Wed 8/9/2006 05:38PM
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"I heard people comparing Saturday evening to past years: '93, '95, '98. The emotions from my first shows in the '90s found a way to come rushing back into my life."

I first saw PANIC in 94 and to be honest, they still sound the same way...Same drum fills/jams same crappy piano sound...Hell the guys in the band didnt even show up for GEORGES wedding party...what great bunch of guys...I dont hate PANIC but its still a good mediocore concert...

emily935 Thu 8/10/2006 06:47AM
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PATFIELD starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/10/2006 08:36AM
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Why do people leave snide, moronic comments on articles/reviews about bands they do not like. It makes you look like an underdeveloped two-year-old. If that's what you're going for, then fine I guess. Great review, great passion. Panic is, finally, about to reclaim the throne that is theirs by right! Sam and Keane have literally worked miracles, and I can't wait to see what Jimmy brings to the table this Fall, I just hope they keep bringing Sam out to play!!

JoshDrew star Thu 8/10/2006 08:53AM
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I feel like Panic fans are really reaching out to make the boring shows they see seem good. But i'm happy to see people going out and having a good time.

emily935 Thu 8/10/2006 09:50AM
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taperwookie starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/10/2006 10:18AM
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Best WSP article I've read in ages to go along with best WSP shows I've heard in ages. Jimmy who? Sam's the man!

nughufer starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/10/2006 02:35PM
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i understand wsp has been around awhile and a lot of fans have heard quite a lot of ups and downs in the music. however, i wish people that have nothing better to do than bad mouth their favorite bands would go else where. i'm sorry if this is harsh. columbia and the two portsmouth shows were my first panic experiences and i ate it up. it was magic all over agian, something like my first phish show now seven years ago. i thought they played great shows and really gave it their all. we need to remember they're people too, and have good and bad times weighing on all their minds... lets have a bit of respect and appreciate all the great times they givin us. even when they might not necessarily sound as good as last night or last year. see you on the field, peace :b

franklinberger starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/10/2006 05:34PM
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I could not agree more. I was in Indy for the show Tues night. Sam and John were spot on. For those of you heading to the Chicago Theatre this weekend, if you have any trepidation whatsoever about seeing Panic In Limbo, fear not. You are in for one h*ll of a treat. Indy was non-stop dancing and b@lls to the w@lls fun. The band was tight. The band was raucous. The band was Panic at its ever-evolving best. Thoughts of Mikey cannot escape the brain (knowing he's jamming with Jerry helps), but this band seems to be of the ilk that music is as much an elixer as it is part of the formula for good livin for those of us lucky enough to be just that. Mr. Herring will be another great chapter, but enjoy the last pages of this one while you have the chance. Didn't hear much from Earth to America Tuesday, but then again, there were no horns nor an orchestra section. This fall perhaps?

newch Fri 8/11/2006 03:19AM
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when mike died, i felt a large part of me died as well. i would never again feel that hair raising ride. because "panic" truly did take you on a ride. he left me without words so many times.
i haven't seen widspread since mike departed. i've heard many a bootleg and live recording with george, and damn i love george(beanland was the delta dead). but now widspread is just widespread without the "panic".
jimmy herring is a great player and i think he'll fit right in with the boys, haven't had the pleasure to hear sam, but to hear great reviews like these makes me smile. i hope widespread keeps goin strong, while it's not the same for me, an honest tune with a lingering lead is still a beautiful thing.
and if you don't like, don't listen. let's not argue over music.

BlueIndian starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/11/2006 09:29AM
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GOD BLESS SAM HOLT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

johnson04 starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/11/2006 02:45PM
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talk about a pre-game pep talk! what a perfect read, just 3 hours before the start of the Chicago run. i literally can't wait. "Goodbye, it's time to fly!"

rchestnut Fri 8/11/2006 05:01PM
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saw the aug 4,5,&6 showes. they were the best showes i have seen since mikey. nothing against
jimmy but i really enjoyed the sound with sam.
i kind wish the band would have gone with him.
the chemistry was there as they rocked the HOUSE! good luck with jimmy i'll be out there
to see ya all and good luck to george.

karakooie starstarstarstarstar Sat 8/12/2006 08:15AM
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Goosebumps surfaced on my skin while reading this article! Especially with your note about McConnell. What a wonderful, reflective thought to thank him for his presence with Panic during a time of change. He was stepping into a position where criticism and comparison would run rampant. The truest of Panic fans would see this and KNOW this. He did step in to help keep the Panic spirit alive and we all should be thankful for that. I can't wait to see Panic this fall and I will go with the enthusiasm that always overwhelms me the moment I walk into the show, any show....every show since I first saw them in 1993. I'll never give up on Panic, Holt, Herring, McConnell.... each one wonderful additions to such a magnificent sound! Thanks to Panic!!

Blanders starstarstarstarstar Sun 8/13/2006 05:26PM
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It took 4 years for WSP to figure out george was'nt the man. I wonder how long it will take for them to figure out sam should be the man.

arib starstarstarstar Sun 8/13/2006 10:33PM
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Jake -- nice review. Just saw the Sat night Chicago show and I share your sentiment on taking home the war wounds -- much dancing was done by all! I also did a review and have an INTERVIEW with JB on my blog,, in case anyone wants to read it:

EVILFUNK starstarstarstarstar Mon 8/14/2006 06:15PM
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i saw panic do a co bill with ARU somewhere in maine or vermont once years ago and there was a point where everyone from both bands were on stage jamming all at once. what a shitload of sound that was!

sam (nobody knew his name at the time) sounded good this summer. with herring im shure they will destroy!

breckenridgejam starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/17/2006 04:12PM
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Sunday night in Chicago was in the top five Panic shows I've ever seen, which is a pretty bold statement considering I'm a seasoned vet. My brain might as well of popped and oozzed out the side of my head! I danced so hard Sat. and Sun. that I'm now back in Colorado finding mysterious cuts and bruises not to mention the hardcore charlie horses I've been getting. This article sums up my experience last weekend to a T! It was great seeing all my old friends back in Chi-town and the music was blaring through the Chicago Theatre like the roof was going to explode! The cops and security there were major dicks, but that didn't stop us raging spreadheads from dancing wherever we wanted to dance and spill beer all over ourselves! It is gettin hot within the Panic community and I'm really said to see Keane and Holt go because I think they were kickin so much ass, but I'm just happy I was ther to witness it all. Jimmy step up hard and make the Home Team happy, peace y'all! Anyone for amped about Vegoose cause look for me gettin loose.

BigLobedMike starstarstarstarstar Mon 8/21/2006 12:48AM
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This was a funny article. It was so well written that I KNOW what that show was like. Quite detailed... but it is cool because you find random phrases like "a musical hoagie".... I was crying when I read that. Random quirky shit make this one my my favorite articles that I've read on JamBase. I usually can't make it more than a few sentences. Rarely do the reviews really tell me more that the setlist. Anyways... good show.

knockkneedman starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/23/2006 09:33AM
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Great writing indeed! I feel like i was at this show a little now. I really like the the way Jake describes things. Hope to see more positive things coming from everyone involved with Panic from the band to the fans.

flance starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/6/2006 07:34PM
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Mikey was wonderful....But, you have got to give credit where credit is do. The fact that Mikey died and WSP wanted to continue touring, they quickly got George and Bramlett to fill in. I'm sory, but, George shows, in my mind, were far better than any show I have ever seen, and, not to brag, but I've seen a hell of a lot of shows. George got no respect from anybody, only because he was Mikey. Now if WSP can embrass George, why can't the fans. Shady......

jackiesoup star Thu 9/7/2006 12:13PM
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Can somebody please tell jam_on to STOP playing these guys?? Where did they learn to write songs? From bad commercials on the country rock stations? No offense but these guys are boring beyond boredom. I tried to like them but it's impossible. Maybe I need to try them with drugs :b

greengrass starstarstarstarstar Sat 9/9/2006 11:00AM
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Sam Holt ripped it with Panic and went straight to Rippin it with his band Outformation. He knows how to play Panic's Songs and that is a knowledge that is Useful... and Outformation is makin a mark...

johns star Tue 9/19/2006 01:31PM
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jackiesoup hit it right on the head... these guys have become B-O-R-I-N-G!!!! The setlists have become predictable(i.e. every fourth show the encore starts with " May Your Glass Be Filled" or so it seems). They can change lead guitarist til there blue in the face; the problem is no one in the group is a creative songwriter. The opening piano riff on " Time Zones" is a blatant rip-off from an old Neil Diamond song " Cherry, Cherry". No wonder George McConnell bolted the group. The real proof to all this is sellers on eBay were dumping tickets for the three night run at RCMH in NYC for half the value or less. The same situation appears to be happening for the up-coming Boston show. No, jackiesoup, you don't have to take drugs, their fanbase seems to prefer large consumption of alcoholic beverages ala " Frat-party" style. WSP R.I.P.