Widespread Panic - The Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles CA - 07/15/2005
by Brian Malone
Los Angeles is a city filled with big dreamers, wide boulevards, palm trees, and a saccharine sunshine feel. It’s the entertainment capital of the world. A place where Hollywood make-believe fuses with hard working reality, and time and time again, bands from around the country make their way to tinsel town and end up either confused by the city’s laid back quirky feel or completely juiced by the electricity hidden under the its silicone surface.
On 7.15.05 Widespread Panic re-defined quality entertainment to the city of angels weaving an incredible night of sound into framework of an amazing and historic venue. The Wiltern Theatre dates back to the 1930’s, and what was once a very popular movie house has become hot bed for musicians looking to strut their stuff on an intimate stage in a beautiful setting. The walls and ceilings are covered with art deco grooves and sweeping curves, and this old school design matched well against the equalizer style lighting strategically placed as an effective back drop for the band.
The lights took on different shapes and directions throughout the show, one minute resembling rivers of blue running upstream, and quickly changing into a high speed freeway chase patterns. They bobbed and swirled with a patchwork of colors and shapes, and were an incredibly powerful and straightforward accompaniment to any tune or tone the band opted to play throughout the entire show.
As Panic took the stage, John Bell, outfitted in his classic white button down and jeans, gave his traditional smile and gruffly hello as he uttered “Good evening Nice People!”, and the band, led by the rhythmic pounce of Domingo Ortiz and Todd Nance, quickly broke into Pleas, a mellow crowd favorite that started the night off right. As the song progressed, George McConnell’s crunchy guitar strums and Dave School’s heavy bass drops took the tune to a deeper and darker depth as the band eventually snapped into the pounding crash of "Monstrosity." For the rest of the first set, Panic ebbed and flowed from more tempered melodic groove tunes like "Travelin' Light," "Weight of the World," and "This Part of Town" to more aggressive, growling type stuff, like "Rock" and the searing set closer "Ain’t Life Grand," which literally lit the entire crowd on fire and sent the floor and balcony into a crazed tailspin as they sung along and rode the musical wave into a much needed break.
As Panic opened the second set, they kept the same vibe from earlier, playing the poppy Beatles cover "Run For Your Life" and eventually melting into the heavier sounding "Thought Sausage" only to gravitate back to the more emotionally and vocally centered "Gradle." As John “Jo Jo” Herman laid down the fast paced and rhythmic key foundation for "Tall Boy," the crowd took it upon themselves to sing back-up on this tune and raise their arms in appreciation for playing another fan favorite.
Ortiz and Nance seamlessly segued into drums, while Wally Ingram, drummer for Dave School’s side project “Stockholm Syndrome”, joined in on the session and provided even more intricate and creative structure to the jam. The three bounced back and forth using different drums and rhythmic timing to create an infinite and heightened sensation and a truly unique sound experience. Dave Schools eventually joined the jam, laying down some detailed bass plucks for the rest of the band to follow as they settled back into the group to end out the show. They wasted no time moving the musical medium to new and fantastic levels as they belted out a scorching fifteen minute jam of Arleen, followed by a smoking "Red Hot Mamma," a poignant lyrical "None of Us Are Free," and a hard banging "Imitation Leather Shoes." These final four tunes highlighted a new and intricate face to Widespread Panic, the band not only kept their incredible range but we’re able to push a distinct sound; a mix of loud edgy metal and rhythmic improvisational extension that is ultimately leading this group in so many new and fascinating directions.
As the night came to an end, they encored with "And It Stoned Me," a subtle Van Morrison cover that gave the crowd a much needed break for reflection and rest. McConnell laid out some incredibly poignant licks on the tune, and once again they were able to bring their own spin to a very simplistic cover. The heavy sounding antics were far from over as they asked the crowd to hold on for one last wild ride ending the show with the rock-a-stomp "Conrad The Caterpillar."
Widespread Panic brought a new level of energy and entertainment to a glitz and glam town sometimes lost in the smog and mirrors brought on by the business of entertainment instead of creative mindsets that make it happen. Panic saw through the hype, pounded out some loud jams, and made a huge statement about the quality of their musicianship and the down home sound that makes them one of a kind.
07/14/05 Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
1: All Time Low, Little Lilly > Tie Your Shoes > Makes Sense To Me, Song For Sitara > Help Me Somebody, Trouble, Holden Oversoul > I Walk On Guilded Splinters > Goin' Out West
2: Let's Get Down To Business, Little Kin > Slippin' Into Darkness*, Drums*, Henry Parsons Died*, C. Brown, Second Skin, Ride Me High, Surprise Valley, Hatfield, Fishwater
E: Bust It Big > I Wanna Be Sedated
* with Steve Lopez on percussion
07/15/05 Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
1: Pleas, Monstrosity, Travelin' Light, One Arm Steve, Weight Of The World, Junior, Rock, This Part Of Town, Ain't Life Grand
2: Run For Your Life, Thought Sausage, Gradle, Tall Boy, You Should Be Glad, Papa's Home, Drums*, Arleen, Red Hot Mama, None of Us Are Free, Imitation Leather Shoes
E: And It Stoned Me, Conrad
* with Wally Ingram on percussion
['For The Love Of Money' tease before 'Arleen']
07/16/05 Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
1: Bowlegged Woman, 1 x 1, Climb To Safety, Dyin' Man, If You'se A Viper, Stop-Go, Nebulous, Jack, Give
2: Love Tractor > Blackout Blues, Postcard, Diner > Pilgrims > Ribs And Whiskey > Drums* > Big Wooly Mammoth > Chilly Water > Flat Foot Flewzy > Chilly Water
E: Expiration Day > Coconut > Last Dance
* with Matt Abts on percussion, Wally Ingram on percussion
['Three Little Birds' rap by JB during 'Stop-Go'; 'Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution' tease by George during 'Nebulous'; Last 'Last Dance' - 10/14/01, 238 shows]
Setlists from Everydaycompanion.com