7/28/05 - Verizon Wireless Music Center show review


Widespread Panic still knows how to jam

By David Lindquist

Among modern "jam bands," Widespread Panic remains the best at gathering momentum and maintaining it during the course of a performance.

The Georgia-based sextet played its direct brand of improvisational rock Wednesday at Verizon Wireless Music Center.

Attendance was about 4,400 at the 24,000-capacity venue. A cozier time could have been enjoyed at Downtown Indianapolis' underused Lawn at White River State Park.

Nevertheless, Widespread Panic signaled its accessibility with a version of War's "Low Rider," the night's second song.

George McConnell replicated the original horn-and-harmonica riff with a tangy guitar turn. The song later opened up for even more adventurous peel-outs.
McConnell has been with the 22-year-old band for more than two years, but this was his first Indiana date as a permanent member. He joined after original guitarist Michael Houser died in 2002 of pancreatic cancer.

As a musician, McConnell always has a solo at the ready. There were times Wednesday when his playing lacked personality, but he fared best when choosing warm tones over mechanical shredding.

During "Greta," for instance, McConnell found an organic stride once bass player Dave Schools and keyboard player John Hermann pounced on the middle of his extended solo.

Elsewhere, Widespread engineered nifty changes of pace when McConnell's playing flirted with tedium.

Hermann blazed through "I Wanna Be Sedated" as if Jerry Lee Lewis popularized the song, and not the Ramones.

Widespread tackled the Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed" -- executed with the able and roughneck assistance of the night's supporting act, the Drive-By Truckers.

The Truckers sound like a cyclone whipping heavy things close to the ground.
And if the sonic assault doesn't floor you, the frank lyrics will. From three songs: "I ain't got no good intentions"; "I'm guilty of all seven (deadly sins), don't feel too bad at all"; and "We ain't never gonna change."