Saturday, May 21, 2011

A chilly breeze has blown my thoughts to what's to come......

There's a lot of hype lately.  Widespread Panic just kicked off their 25th Anniversary Summer Festival Tour.  After a short break between Spring Tour and yesterday, they played last night at Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores.  Thanks to a live stream, folks were able to experience a selection of the bands playing.  For some reason, all bands streamed were done in video, but Panic was audio only.  Whatever.  I was just glad to have something to 'witness.'

In the last 18 hours, I've done a lot of pondering about my favorite band, its habits, its heritage, and my perspective.  I am the first to admit that I am a 'Panic snob.'  It's not that I don't appreciate everything they do, but I do have higher expectations than most people I'm standing next to at a show.  I sometimes have an opinion about a selection that someone else thinks was the highlight of their night.

Do I think that I've earned the right?  Sometimes.  Last night, while streaming Hangout Panic, I had a couple of head-scratching moments where I couldn't understand why they chose (or didn't choose) a few that they did.  I will not go into specific details of last night's show because the details don't matter.  However, I woke up this morning, looked at the setlist again, remembered a few highlights of the night, and today my perspective is a little different than it was last night.  I'm also sitting here watching (for the 57th time) the Birmingham/Oak DVDs and remembering the big picture of why I love this band.

It is important that I remember that this band appeals to so many people.  Different people - with different flavors of musical tastes.  The cool thing about Panic is that - in my opinion - there's something for everyone.  At every show, there is something for everyone.  No doubt that there are shows that are - for each individual - better than others.  However, I can honestly say that in 126 shows, I have never left thinking "I should have stayed home."  I don't think I ever will.

In the last week, I've read several interviews with band members talking about the 25th anniversary, them taking a break, etc - and the reality of Widespread Panic taking a hiatus is really starting to sink in with me.  I've been mentally avoiding the subject for a while, but it is very much in my face right now and I'm scared.

I knew this was coming.  When they said months ago that they were going to take a break after this year, I made it my personal goal to see as many shows as I could this year.  Between mid-April and July, I will have seen them 11 times.  Not as much as I would like, but I am grateful that I can do this much.  I'm hoping to see them at least 5 - 6 more times in the fall for Halloween and New Years (hopefully).

2011 has been very good to me so far.  I've already made many new friends, went on a solo journey to DC (and had a BLAST), and had a for-the-books Panic weekend with my girls for the first time in way too long.  Just thinking about the next 7 weeks  (7 shows) makes my heart race.  [I'm a lucky girl.]

What exactly am I trying to say?  I just need to document (again) that I freakin' adore this band.  I think that just like any healthy relationship, there are always going to be things that they do (play) that I'm not head-over-heels for.  That doesn't mean that I love them any less.  There are most definitely regular occasions where they do things that make me feel like I can fly.  They know how to put a big 'ole smile on this girl's face.  And I am so very grateful for their eccentricity that allows so many different types of people to enjoy them as much as I do.

Here's hoping that the boys enjoy their break after this year - but not too much.  In the meantime, I will most definitely enjoy everything they do.  My Panic cup is more than half full - it's overflowing!

My name is Ashley and I'm addicted to Widespread Panic.

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