Widespread Panic Teams With Umphreys & TAUK At Jones Beach
Words by: Scott Bernstein
When Saturday in the NYC metro area started out with overcast skies and weather forecasts predicted rain was on its way, it appeared those attending Widespread Panic’s return to Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York -a show which also featured Umphrey’s McGee and TAUK -would endure a wet night on Long Island. Thankfully the bad weather held off for the entirety of a concert that showed off three generations of jams acts at the waterfront venue.
TAUK took the stage first promptly at the 6 p.m. ticket time. The group played as a trio for the majority of their set as keyboardist A.C. Carter did not join his mates at Jones Beach. Guitarist Matt Jalbert, bassist Charlie Dolan and drummer Isaac Teel started their short set in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd with a handful of prog-heavy originals before bringing out Umphrey’s keyboardist Joel Cummins for instrumental covers of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” The former is also part of UM’s live repertoire and the Chicago sextet even recorded the song for their recently released The London Session LP, while the latter featured elements of “Jungle Boogie.” Both Cummins and Jalbert shined in simulating the lyrics instrumentally. The members of TAUK grew up near Jones Beach and said as much during the set, which explained the looks of awe and appreciation on their faces.
Umphrey’s was supposed to play a 90-minute set which was cut to 75 minutes perhaps due to the approaching storm. The sextet came out shortly after 7:15 p.m. and delivered a seven-song performance highlighted by a powerful “All In Time” and a “Robot World” that started with a dance-funk jam and ended with guitarist Brendan Bayliss leading his mates through the lyrical “Jimmy Stewart” known as “Cigarette Cables.” Bayliss also starred on both “All In Time” and the “40s Theme” set closer with ferocious solos in each.
Drummer Duane Trucks brings a new energy to Widespread Panic. Now that Duane has been behind the kit for multiple tours, he seems more comfortable and confident. Guitarist Jimmy Herring, who also happens to be Trucks’ father-in-law, was particularly “on” at Jones Beach throughout Panic’s set. The 100-minute performance, which oddly started over 15 minutes after the already truncated set was scheduled to begin, featured an old school opening sequence of “Pigeons” and “Diner.” Bassist Dave Schools helped lead a spot-on transition from “Diner” into a loping “Stop Breaking Down Blues.” Later, the segue between “Bear’s Gone Fishin'” > “I’m Not Alone” was among the highlights of the evening and showed off the more blues-based improvisational style of Widespread Panic. “I’m Not Alone” was the rare tender ballad during a night filled with rockers. “Cease Fire,” a new original debuted earlier this year, was also among the set’s high points and the tune has a bright future ahead. After a cover of Murray McLauchlan’s “Honky Red,” the show and the evening came to a close with Panic welcoming Umphrey’s Cummins, Jake Cinninger and Andy Farag for “Red Hot Mama.” Cinninger and Herring each had ample time to shred and duel on the Funkadelic cover.
Saturday night was also a rare opportunity to see two of the best lighting designers in the scene at the same venue on the same night as UM LD Jefferson Waful and Widespread Panic LD Paul Hoffman utilized the concert’s rig in two completely different ways. Waful focused on his signature fully symmetrical looks, while Hoffman employed impressive video elements among his powerful light show.
The 15,000 capacity Nikon at Jones Beach Theater was perhaps half full and the threat of bad weather didn’t help attendance. That said, there was plenty of room for those who did attend to enjoy themselves and the venue has even started selling beer to those over age 21 instead of just VIPs as in past years. Jones Beach staffers were also more relaxed than seen at many prior concerts. Whatever the reasoning, the venue and production combined with three bands that are on top of their game and the lack of rain made for a fun night on the Bay.
Umphrey’s (via The Bort)
Set: Puppet String > Robot World > Hourglass, Ringo, All In Time, No Diablo, 40’s Theme
 Jimmy Stewart with lyrics
Widespread Panic (via PanicStream.com)
Set: Pigeons, Diner > Stop Breaking Down Blues, Worry, Bears Gone Fishin’ > I’m Not Alone > Sleeping Man, Visiting Day > Cease Fire > Honky Red, Red Hot Mama*
* -w/ Joel Cummins on keys, Jake Cinninger on guitar, Andy Farag on percussion
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