10/17/06 Widespread Panic at IU: Show Preview

Widespread Panic at IU

By Zack Teibloom | Indiana Daily Student |

The IU Auditorium welcomes back "road warriors" Widespread Panic just a year and a half after their sold out Auditorium show. The former Bonnaroo headliners are expected to fill the parking lots with partying "Spreadheads" and induce dancing in the aisles during their trademark high-energy show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Lower orchestra seats were still available as of Monday afternoon.

Senior Sarah Smazal is a Widespread concert veteran and woke up at 9 a.m. Sept. 7 to make sure she got good tickets.

In April 2005, Widespread played a packed house as fans partied in the parking lot up until the last minute, before flooding into the Auditorium for the nearly three-hour show.

"The spring crowd was amazing," Auditorium director Doug Booher said of the sold out show. "Widespread had just come back from hiatus. It was a really positive night with fans coming in from all over the region."

The notoriously wild Southern rock band, which also includes jazz and blues influences, is often lumped in the jam band category. On Allmusic.com's profile of the band, writer Jason Ankeny said they are "one of the many neo-hippie jam bands, inheriting the road-warrior mantle left behind by the Grateful Dead, establishing a devout grassroots following on the strength of constant touring."

The band has garnered an almost Phish-like following since their first album in 1988, and during their peak, the band put on nearly 250 shows a year.

"It's always an amazing crowd," Smazal said. "Always high energy, and they always surprise you with what they're going to play."

Booher said throngs of people came into town for the show last spring, "making the parking lots their place for the day, celebrating the show and having a great time."

Senior Evan Alberhasky has seen the band nearly 20 times and said he looks forward to the party-like atmosphere. He intends to head down to the parking lot area at about 5 p.m. to check out the scene.

"Last year it was a huge gathering in the union parking lot, with people kind of pre-partying," Alberhasky said.

While Widespread is often described as a jam band, Alberhasky said he wouldn't describe them that way. He said the band would not draw out songs for 15 minutes - like jam sands do - and compared them to Southern rockers The Allman Brothers.

Further adding to The Allman Brothers-like sound is new lead guitarist Jimmy Herring, who formerly played with The Allman Brothers and Phil Lesh and Friends. The guitarist, who joined the band in August, adds to a lineup Booher described as a great group of musicians who really play for their fans. And he expects nothing less this year.

Booher said the Union Board brings back big acts when they draw well, as was evident by past returning acts like Bob Dylan and Dave Matthews Band.

"Usually the Union Board doesn't bring back the same band so soon," Alberhasky said. "It was a rockin' show. I'm sure that's why they're bringing them back so soon."