By Jeff Sherman
Widespread Panic, the Athens-based jam band, came to town this weekend for two shows at the Riverside Theater.
Of course, this also meant that their fans, many who travel from concert to concert, much like the die-hards who for years followed the Grateful Dead and Phish, also set up shop Downtown.
In the Rock Bottom parking lot, hours before the Friday show, concert goers (looking like hearty campers and tailgaters) from across the country started setting up. Dogs, people, vans, vendors and music filled the area all day and night.
From Indiana, Alabama, Nevada and other states, fans filled the lot near the Riverwalk at Plankinton and Wells Sts.
One fan, Mike, from Las Vegas follows the band from show to show. He wholesales stereo equipment on side, but like many Panic fans uses the pre-show tailgates to support his concert habits. For Mike, this means selling pizza along with his friend Christopher who called himself the "general manager" for the pizza business.
Other fans sell hats, tee shirts, stickers, photos, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, bracelets, books and other items. It's a community and a family that loves the band and the lifestyle. And when we say family, we mean family as many of the fans travel with dogs and their young children.
With a near perfect weekend of weather, the loyal fans loved Milwaukee. "The churches, the architecture, the development and Mo's," said one fan when asked about Milwaukee.
The band moves on to Indianapolis Sunday. Many of the fans, who paid $8/day to park in the lot, will follow the band immediately after Saturday night's 8 p.m. show.