Saturday, January 7, 2012

Career highlights: Panic career, that is......

With my favorite band's hiatus looming and thoughts of Atlanta Wood and Panic en la Playa coming soon (I'm a lucky girl), I've been reflecting on some of my most favorite moments in the 15 years that I've been seeing Widespread Panic.  The following are some of the moments that will live in infamy in my mind, in sequential order, but by no means in order of significance:

  • First show 7.18.97
    • I had heard studio Panic before, but never live.  This was the summer after my senior year of high school and I was just following my crowd of friends to Mud Island for a concert.  Unfortunately, I was too intoxicated to remember much about the show.  But the mere fact that it is my first show means that it has to be in my list of highlights.
  • Second show 11.20.97
    • It had been a few months since the first show, but this was the show where I "got it."  I was a freshman in college and tagged along with a group of friends to this show in Little Rock at Robinson Auditorium.  Our seats were crappy, so I somehow managed to walk my way up to the rail and ended up directly in front of Dave Schools.  I must've had the noob look on my face, and Schools noticed it immediately.  He was making faces at me and then dropping bass bombs.  I remember looking around the crowd and seeing people dancing their ass off and smiling like there was no tomorrow.  I knew from that night on that this band and it's crowd was something I needed to be a part of.
  • First solo show 11.25.98
    • After seeing only 2 shows in 97, I saw them 10 times in 98 - which is pretty good given that I was also in college.  This particular show was in Chattanooga the night before Thanksgiving and given the holiday, I couldn't find anyone who could make the trek with me.  So I went alone.  I've always been a 'loner,' independent, and unafraid of trying things on my own.  This was my first solo Panic show.  And not my last.  It was the first of several solo trips.  After a smoker show, I drove my little car for 7 hours back to my Mom's house because her stipulation for me being able to go to the show was just that I be back in time for Thanksgiving dinner.  I made it.
    • Encore:  Heaven > Coconut
  • NYE 98 - Fox Theater - 4 night run
    • Ahhhh, the days of mail order.  My friend Sandy and I scored 2 tickets to all 4 nights of the shows leading up to NYE.  This would be my first NYE show.  Though I had jumped head first into the Panic community, I was still a noob.  These 4 nights BLEW.MY.MIND and I was officially hooked.  '99 would prove to be an even more 'productive' year for me Panic-wise.  
  • Memphis Run Mid South Coliseum 2001
    • Having grown up 40 miles from Memphis, I've always considered Memphis to be 'hometown' shows.  So as sleazy as the Coliseum is, I love seeing Panic there.  They always bring the place down.  This year, they burned it down.  Dirty Dozen Brass Band joined them both nights and I was surrounded by many friends, old and new.
    • House of the Rising Sun (w/Dirty Dozen)
    • Sharon > Christmas Katie > Arleen > Swamp (w/Dirty Dozen)
    • Remember Bayou Lena!?  {miss that song!}
  • Oak Mountain 2002 run
    • As rumors and speculations made their way through the Panic community about Mikey's illness, I wasn't sure what to believe.  I didn't want to believe, but I had this sinking feeling deep down that there was something terrible.  The electricity in the crowd was amazing, and the boys played 3 shows that sent the message to the crowd of "we're in this together and we love you."  Many a tear was shed that weekend, and the crowd cheered the boys on during what must have been a difficult run for them to get through.  Looking back, I don't really know how they did it.  They played so many songs that were raw emotion and we embraced them in return.  I left Pelham that weekend never having been officially told that Mikey was sick, but in my heart I knew it was true.  A sadness and uncertainty filled my soul because I didn't know exactly what was going on, but I knew it wasn't good.  
    • Encore night 2:  Help Me Somebody > Don't Be Denied.  I don't think I've ever heard a crowd cheer as loud as when JB sang "pretty soon I met a friend, he played guitar.......we started a band, we played all night"
  • Bonnaroo 2002
    • This was the first ever Bonnaroo and I was lucky enough to be with about 25 of my closest friends.  Widespread was headlining 2 of the 3 nights.  Since I thought that Oak Mountain might have been the last time I'd see Mikey, I was thrilled to see his beautiful face on stage.  My favorite moment of the entire weekend was seeing the look on his face (ear-to-ear smile) as Dottie Peoples and the Peoples Choice Choir joined the boys for Tall Boy > Testify > Tall Boy.  I swear the crowd levitated and I had what is probably the closest thing to a religious experience.  It was as if this choir was singing him into heaven.  Ever cried during Tall Boy?  :)
  • Red Rocks 2002
    • Fast-forward to the next weekend and we headed to Red Rocks.  This would be my 4th year to attend Panic on the Rocks, but it was probably the most important as it was the last time I would see Mikey there.  Bless his sweet soul, he was so weak and frail, but he played his heart out.  I bawled like a baby during Waker (my last one).
    • As it turns out, this would be my last Mikey show.  Having been to the amazing shows in 2002 that I had, I felt like I got as much as I could and in my heart, I said goodbye to Mikey in Colorado as I left that Sunday.  I just didn't know that he had such little time left.  I am very fortunate that I got to see 8 of Mikey's 10 last shows.
  • Chicago 2009 2 night run with Allman Brothers
    • I went to Chicago solo and went to both shows completely sober.  I've been a fan of Jimmy's since the beginning, but I think that it was this weekend that I realized I was officially was 'in love' with the sound he brings to the band (without feeling guilty because I will always miss Mikey).
    • Highlight of that run:   Just Like a Woman (with Gregg Allman)
  • NOLAween 2010 run
  • Sunday Red Rocks 2011 second set
    • I'm a sucker for covers.  Always have been.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Panic songs.  But there's nothing like my favorite band playing some of my other favorite songs.  Someone had the genius idea of playing an entire set of covers.  Each song is one that I would consider a 'chaser.'  But this time, they were all compiled into one set of awesomeness.  Fortunately, we chose Sunday night as the night to get in line early and were 2nd row for this madness.  
I have no doubt whatsoever that 4 nights in Mexico will be on this list in just over 3 weeks from today.  However, if I died today, I would die a happy and Panic-satisfied woman.  I am undoubtedly lucky for all that I've gotten to experience in 15 years with the boys.  But I selfishly hope that they play until the end of time.

Long live Widespread Panic!

Stay tuned, as my next blog will most likely not be until after Atlanta Wood > Panic en la Playa.  I can only imagine the awesome stories I will have to tell after those shows.

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