Back home on the east coast, if you hear the name Widespread Panic mentioned in a conversation, it’s usually followed by words such as “lame” or “sucks”. I wasn’t aware of a single person who liked this band. So you can see my surprise when I moved out to Colorado, and immediately met crazy obsessed Widespread Panic fans. One of the first kids I met in Denver actually had Widespread Panic ticket stubs plastered over every inch of his refrigerator. I’d never seen anything like it. I then walked into another room in his house, where there was a DVD playing of one of Panic’s live shows. I couldn’t get away from this band! Talk about complete extremes –Living in a land of Widespread haters, to Widespread fanatics. Here is my metaphor, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that Widespread Panic is to the South and Mid-west, as PHISH is to the East Coast. That’s my synopsis. But anyways…I couldn’t help but wonder…what is so great about this band? Should I give them a chance? I’d never been interested in them before because they weren’t a part of the environment I was living in. They are very much loved here though, so obviously that’s for a reason. I had never experienced them live before either, so I was feeling very indifferent when a friend of mine had offered me a ticket to go see them in Loveland a few weeks ago. I was curious about what the big deal was about this band, so I decided to go to the show. Why not? I figured that before I could have an opinion on the band, I should see them live first. Sometimes, listening to an album doesn’t do a band justice. Seeing a band live is an entirely different experience… and a lot of times, is how people get turned on to music in the first place. I know that I’ve learned to love my favorite bands through experiencing them LIVE. So that’s exactly what I did with Panic. The experience isn’t what I hoped it would be however.
Lets just say that during their first set, I actually caught myself standing still with my arms crossed…yawning, and periodically checking the time on my phone. I appreciated their talent, and could see why everyone out here loves them so much, but I was honestly bored out of my mind. I wasn’t sure if it was because of our unfortunate seating section, if the band just wasn’t in my taste, or because I wasn’t familiar with any of their songs. Sometimes it’s more enjoyable to see a band when you know their music…because it’s exciting to hear a favorite song while watching your favorite musicians up on stage. You can sing along as you sway, holding your drink up in the air as if your cheers-ing the band, while grinning from ear to ear. That wasn’t the case for me at Panic though, because I didn’t recognize a single song… so each song sounded exactly the same to me. Usually, when you first hear a band - All their songs sound the same. It’s when you get really involved with a band that you begin to differentiate all their songs, sounds, and voices. I remember when I first heard PHISH I thought all of their songs sounded the same, but now, I’m able to recognize every song, with only having to hear the first note. So maybe I just need to listen to Widespread Panic more, to get a better understanding of their sound, and get to know their songs better. OR, they just aren’t for me. I still don’t completely know how I feel about them. Their first set during the Loveland show put me to sleep, but their second set really woke me up.
I remember hearing one song during their second set that really caught my attention. I still have the words and melody lingering in my head. It was called Chainsaw City. I LOVED IT! There were also a few other times when I realized I was really enjoying myself. That might have been due to the fact that the drinks were kicking in, that the band was getting into it more, or that we had moved to the floor - where the energy was much more intense and the crowd had completely immersed themselves in the groove. I think my enjoyment of the second set was a mixture of all the above...but mostly due to the drinks.
Overall, I had a good time…I’m still very wishy-washy towards the band. I don’t like them any more than I did before, and I don’t like them any less. I did really enjoy the Widespread Panic fans a lot…everyone seemed so friendly, and the scene was very diverse and mature – from an elder crowd, to married couples, to college kids, to young professionals, etc. Much different than the Biscuits scene I had mention in a previous post.
So as much as I respect the musicians in Widespread Panic, at the moment, I don’t feel the need to see them again. I got to have the experience, which was enough for me. I just didn’t feel the spark ignite between the band and I, and I didn’t leave the show yearning for more! I guess what it comes down to - is that I’m just an East Coast PHISH girl for life!