Article by Erika Rasmussen
Photographs by Jeff Fernandez
Life on tour embodies the essence of the American dream. Loading up with your “family,” hitting the road, and handling everything that comes your way while discovering what it means to be an American. Hunter S. Thompson redefined that American dream in “Fear and Loathing,” as had the counterculture movement of the prior decade. Today’s gypsies still trek across this great country, even if they’re now aided by frequent flier miles and smartphones with GPS. And it’s on these migrations that we discover new miracles and fall in love with our hallmark traditions all over again.
When Widespread Panic descended upon Vegas for Halloween weekend, it was a Gonzo-style celebration of all that is old and new and American and Vegas and awesome.
It all kicked off on Friday with only the third ever Bowie “Heroes.” Continuing in the theme of recently departed badasses, they closed with “Ace of Spades,” only played four times before.
10/27/17 Park Theater, Las Vegas, NV
1: Heroes (DB), Love Tractor, Tall Boy, The Last Straw > Cotton Was King, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Send Your Mind, Pigeons, Holden Oversoul
2: All Time Low > Jam > Surprise Valley > Papa’s Home > Surprise Valley > Stop Breakin’ Down Blues, Thought Sausage, Saint Ex > Drums > Radio Child, Vacation, North
E: Blackout Blues, Ace of Spades
Saturday was basically “Honeybee” night. When the boys finally covered Petty’s classic, there was a collective explosion of minds, both at the Park Theater and by everyone couch-touring at home. It’s still a hot topic of conversation. In typical Panic style, they refrained from covering the song in Milwaukee because that’d be just too damn predictable if the city’s mentioned in the lyric. That probably added to the joy of getting the breakout in Sin City.
Saturday, as you may have heard, was also Ladies Night. The greatest ladies night ever. Think of a Panic song about a woman. Boom. They played it. All the chicks were there. Greta, Arleen, Lilly, Sharon, that ole Flat Foot Flewzy (bless her), Avis, Ophelia, and of course our favorite diner waitress, Miss Lee. That’s a gang of gals I could party with.
10/28/17 Park Theater, Las Vegas, NV
1: Greta > Little Lilly, Arleen > Ophelia, Party At Your Mama’s House > You Should Be Glad, Sharon, Ain’t Life Grand
2: Flat Foot Flewzy, Diner > Rebirtha > Christmas Katie > Jam > Good Morning Little Schoolgirl > Aunt Avis, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Coconut, Honey Bee > Red Hot Mama
E: End Of The Show, Bowlegged Woman
[Only ‘Honey Bee’]
The band waited ’til Sunday to BLOW SOME MINDS. They played their only-ever covers of “Alright Now” (JB vocals only), “Home On The Range” (3 freakin’ versions), “Magic Carpet Ride,” and “Rumble.” And just when you thought it was safe to have feelings again, they bust into “Don’t Tell The Band”. Y’ALL. This hasn’t been played since ’02. When Mikey was still with us for a little longer. If you know the song’s meaning, then you’ll understand how big a deal it is to have someone OTHER than Mikey sing it. It was actually a little overwhelming for some fans. The only song that would affect me more, personally, is “Waker.” “DTTB” is one of THOSE songs that you just don’t think you’ll ever catch live again.
But that’s what happens in Vegas, right? Roll the dice, take it as far as you can, and see what happens. Just like on these epic cross country trips that we all love so much. In Hunter S. Thompson’s immortal words, blasted for the crowd before Set 1, “The tendency is to push it as far as you can.”
10/29/17 Park Theater, Las Vegas, NV
1: Home on the Range, Rumble > Henry Parsons Died, Vampire Blues, Don’t Tell The Band, Use Me, Up All Night, Shut Up And Drive, Conrad
2: Chilly Water, Tail Dragger, Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys, Proving Ground > Home on the Range, Magic Carpet Ride* > Jam > Drums > Cease Fire > City of Dreams, Mr. Soul
E: House of the Rising Sun > Home on the Range, All Right Now
- with Carrot Top on percussion
[Only ‘All Right Now’, Only ‘Home on the Range’, Only ‘Magic Carpet Ride’, Only ‘Rumble’; Introduction to Fear & Loathing video played before Set 1; Second ‘Home on the Range’ Jimmy led instrumental; Third ‘Home on the Range’ JoJo led instrumental; ‘All Right Now’ JB vocals only; Last ‘Don’t Tell The Band’ – 06/25/02, 1045 shows; Last ‘House of the Rising Sun’ – 06/24/14, 211 shows]