Widespread Panic Presents Andy Kaufman Themed Halloween Show In New Orleans

By Scott Bernstein Nov 1, 2019 8:44 am PDT

Widespread Panic paid tribute to late comedian and performance artist Andy Kaufman with their Halloween show on Thursday night at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. The concert featured guest appearances by legendary bassists George Porter Jr. of The Meters and Mike Mills of R.E.M. and ended with a bizarre incident involving a fan that would have made Andy Kaufman proud.

Members of Panic dressed up as Andy Kaufman during different points of his career. For example guitarist John Bell wore an Elvis costume as Andy would often do, while guitarist Jimmy Herring dressed as Santa as Kaufman did at Carnegie Hall and drummer Duane Trucks was clad as a wrestler. Widespread Panic brought out George Porter Jr. to open the show with covers of The Meters’ “Chicken Strut” and “Hey Pocky Way.” Both were debuts for Panic.

Porter Jr. vacated the stage leaving Panic to fill the rest of the first set with repertoire favorites including originals “One Arm Steve,” “Love Tractor,” “All Time Low” and “Pilgrims” as well as covers of the Talking Heads’ “Papa Legba” and the band’s first cover of James Taylor’s “Knocking ‘Round The Zoo” since May 4, 2017. WSP kicked off the second set with “Henry Parsons Died” before trotting out an expansive “Surprise Valley” that included “Arleen” within. A run of “Old Neighborhood,” “Holden Oversoul,” the first “Spoonful” since October 8, 2014 and “Tall Boy” led into a stretch of cover debuts with Mike Mills.

Mills was on hand for Widespread Panic’s first ever renditions of “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed, David Bowie’s “Starman” and R.E.M.’s “Man On The Moon.” The Georgian musician played keys on “Perfect Day,” guitar on “Starman” and bass for “Man On The Moon” and also contributed harmony vocals. WSP closed out the frame with “Porch Song.” Another tribute to Kaufman began the encore as bassist Dave Schools went full-on frontman for Andy’s “I Trusted You.” Mike Mills was on guitar, Duane Trucks played bass, percussionist Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz was on drums and Schools’ tech, Paul was on keys dressed in what JoJo wore earlier in the evening as per PanicStream. Next up was a cover debut of Fabian’s “Friendly World,” a song Kaufman was known to perform, featuring Mike Mills on vocals and guitar.

Widespread Panic crew member Steve Lopez came out after “Friendly World” to ask the crowd to refrain from smoking. JB then welcomed “Tony Clifton” to the stage. Tony Clifton was a character Kaufman created known for elaborate pranks and hoaxes. Clifton was played in New Orleans by Panic keyboardist JoJo Hermann. A female fan heckled Tony Clifton as he made his way through Dean Martin’s “Volare.” The heckling of “fuck you, we want Widespread Panic!” continued as Clifton sang “Tacos,” a song by Michael Nichol that Panic played twice in 1995. Last night’s partial “Taco” was the band’s first attempt at the tune since September 22, 1995 – a span of 1,799 shows. Eventually, Tony Clifton had enough of the heckling and vacated the stage followed by the rest of the band in a bit of performance art.

“We apologize for the unfortunate event that took place at the end of tonight’s show,” read a statement from Widespread Panic. “We will get to the bottom of this for you. Sorry once again to our fans and family. Please enjoy the weekend and see you Friday and Saturday! Happy Halloween. Widespread Panic.”

Fan-Shot Videos

Hey Pocky Way w/ George Porter Jr. Captured by MrTopDogger

Chicken Strut w/ George Porter Jr. Captured by Fred Ramadan

Starman w/ Mike Mills Captured by MrTopDogger

Perfect Day w/ Mike Mills Captured by Fred Ramadan

Setlist (via PanicStream)

Set One: Chicken Strut*, Hey Pocky Way**, Papa Legba, One Arm Steve, Love Tractor, Hatfield, All Time Low, Pilgrims, Knocking ‘Round The Zoo (66 mins)

Set Two: Henry Parsons Died, Surprise Valley > Jam > Arleen > Surprise Valley, Old Neighborhood, Holden Oversoul, Spoonful, Tall Boy, Perfect Day***, Starman****, Man On The Moon*****, Porch Song (87 mins)

Encore: I Trusted You******, This Friendly World****, Volare*******, Tacos*******


  • * w/ George Porter Jr. on bass & vocals; Dave on rubber chicken & vocals
  • ** w/ George Porter Jr on bass & vocals
  • *** w/ Mike Mills on keys
  • **** w/ Mike Mills on guitar & vocals
  • ***** w/ Mike Mills on bass & vocals
  • ****** w/ Dave on vocals only; Mike Mills on guitar; Duane on bass; Sunny on drum kit
  • ******* w/ JoJo as Tony Clifton on vocals
  • – First Time Plays: ‘Chicken Strut’ (The Meters), ‘Hey Pocky Way’ (The Meters), ‘Perfect Day’ (Lou Reed), ‘Starman’ (David Bowie), ‘Man On The Moon’ (R.E.M.), ‘I Trusted You’ (Andy Kaufman), ‘This Friendly World’ (Fabian), ‘Volare’ (Dean Martin)
  • – Last Time Plays: ‘Knocking ‘Round The Zoo’ 5/04/17 Jazz Fest (94 shows), ‘Spoonful’ 10/08/14 Montgomery (271 shows), ‘Tacos’ 9/22/95 Oxford (1,799 shows)
  • – Paul (Dave’s tech) in JoJo’s costume and on keys entire encore
  • – Steve Lopez interrupted show before encore to ask fans to stop smoking
  • – Show ended with fan altercation on stage during ‘Tacos’
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