Widespread Panic continues a week of revisiting memorable Halloween live concert performances available in the JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA). Panic’s Halloween concerts typically include cover debuts, bust outs and clever themes. This edition of the JamBase List collects at least one cover premiered at each of the band’s last six Halloween celebrations.
The sextet has a long history of Halloween concerts that dates back to a performance at the Uptown Lounge in their hometown of Athens on October 31, 1987. Athens hosted Widespread Panic Halloween shows through 1991, when the band opened for Blues Traveler in New York City. Since then, the band played either on October 31 or celebrated the occasion on a date close to the 31st in Missoula, Evanston, Athens, Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Las Vegas, Asheville, Austin and Broomfield.
Widespread Panic took their Halloween celebrations up a notch on October 31, 1996 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, where they debuted covers of “Radar Love,” “Riders On The Storm” and “Space Truckin.'” Each Halloween show since has included a handful of cover premieres. The JBLVA features over 350 Widespread Panic videos. Let’s dig in to clips from the band’s six most recent Halloween performances, which again don’t always fall exactly on October 31st:
Heart Of Gold (Neil Young) | October 31, 2014
Widespread Panic took a trip into a mine shaft for their 2014 Halloween concert at 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado. Costumes worn by band members included John Bell dressed as an elf, David Schools dressed as a miner and Jimmy Herring dressed as a knight. The sextet fit a debut cover of the Neil Young classic “Heart Of Gold” from his 1972 album, Harvest, into their first set. “Heart Of Gold” has been played four times since by Widespread Panic with the most recent performance taking place on August 24, 2019.
The sextet turned Asheville into Mayberry for a The Andy Griffith Show-themed Halloween concert on October 31, 2015. Members dressed as characters from the long-running CBS sitcom. The second set began with a run of three Pink Floyd covers: “Have A Cigar,”“Wish You Were Here” and “Young Lust.” Both “Have A Cigar” and “Young Lust” were debuts that the band has yet to perform again. Pink Floyd originally released “Have A Cigar” on their 1975 album, Wish You Were Here.
Widespread Panic honored Halloween a day early to end a three-night stand at 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado on October 30, 2016. The theme for the first set was “Heaven” with a “Hell” theme for set two of Widespread Panic’s 2016 Halloween celebration. John Bell fronted the group of their lone rendition of the Nirvana gem “Lithium” to close out the second set. Nirvana originally released “Lithium” on their 1991 studio album, Nevermind.
Home On The Range (Kelley/Higley) & Rumble (Link Wray)
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas was the theme for the six-piece’s Halloween Weekend finale at Las Vegas’ Park Theater on October 29, 2017. The stage was decorated like a scene out of old school Sin City with band members mostly dressed as Hunter S. Thompson from different points in the famed gonzo writer’s career. John Bell sang lead on Widespread Panic’s first and only cover of “Home On The Range,” with its line that provided the title of Hunter’s semi-autobiographical 1980 film Where The Buffalo Roam. Then, Jimmy Herring starred on the Panic debut of Link Wray’s surf-rock classic “Rumble.”
Widespread Panic presented a Laugh-In-themed concert to conclude a Halloween Weekend run at Park Theater in Las Vegas on October 28, 2018. Each member of the group wore an outfit inspired by the 1968 – 1973 sketch comedy show hosted by Dan Rowam and Dick Martin. John Bell led WSP through their first and only cover of Jethro Tull‘s “Aqualung” to begin the band’s second set. “Aqualung” served as the title track of Jethro Tull’s 1971 studio album.
The sextet paid tribute to the late Andy Kaufman for their Halloween 2019 concert at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. Each member of the group dressed as Kaufman from different periods of his career. Widespread Panic was joined by legendary bassist George Porter Jr. to kick off the evening with their first and only cover of The Meters’ “Chicken Strut.” Bassist Dave Schools squeaked a rubber chicken and sang during the opener, which The Meters originally released on 1970’s Struttin.’