Widespread Panic at the Bank Of America Pavilion on July 18

A review of Widespread Panic at the Bank Of America Pavilion on July 18, 2007

, Contributing Writer

For a genre that seems to not be a top priority of Boston’s music scene, last night’s Widespread Panic show fired up the audience at the Bank of America Pavilion with a lively mix of bongos, guitar riffs, and piano heavy tunes. The crowd looked happy and excited to be there. When it comes to jam bands, most put on a show that keeps the audience subdued and in a state of relaxation, but this show had energy similar to that of a Dave Matthews concert, with jams of epic proportion that at times even channeled the mighty Led Zeppelin.

With a career spanning over twenty years, lead singer John Bell, bassist Dave Schools, and the rest of Panic pulled twenty songs from their lengthy repertoire to play for the Boston faithful. Their first set started out with a high-powered “Chainsaw City,” and followed with such tunes as “Down,” “Tell the Truth into Submission,” “Little Lilly,” and “Hatfield.”& In between crowd- favorite “Can’t Get High” and “Bear’s Gone Fishin’” percussionist Sunny Ortiz treated the crowd to an impressive several minute bongo solo that featured very little guitar accompaniment until the end. The set finished with a huge “Blackout Blues.”

Most of the songs in the first set were regular songs that contained shorter yet powerful jams here and there; the second set featured more extended jams and various instrumental solos. After a short intermission, Panic returned for a second set that featured “B of D,” “Love Tractor,” and “All Time Low,” ending with “Junior” – the band returned for a three-song encore of “Me and the Devil Blues,” which moved right into hit “Porch Song,” and finally finished with a fantastic “Goin’ Out West.” Like the first set, there was very little between-song banter in set two as most of the songs segued into the next with ease. Nearly every song started with a different instrument solo jam taking center stage, including Ortiz’s bongo solo, various piano solos, and, of course, electric guitar riffs. Set two saw Panic mixing things up a bit in the beginning with their own rendition of the “Mission Impossible” film score, giving it their own special touch.

The relaxing brand of music coupled with the ocean air and fans that, judging by various items of apparel, have followed the band through their extensive touring days (including the massive annual festival Bonnaroo, which Panic closed out this past June) made for a fantastic night.

Opener Girl Talk (who was also a crowd favorite at Bonaroo this year) unfortunately did not have the attendance numbers that he definitely deserved. People slowly trickled into his act, but a majority of the crowd waited to arrive until Panic started, and they missed out on a great stage presence. Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, has been causing quite a stir in the music world with his work – which is done entirely with a laptop. Girl Talk is surrounded by buzz for his manic mashups, which featured songs that sampled Hellogoodbye, The Cranberries, Elton John, Oasis, 50 Cent, The Pixies, Akon and many more seamlessly in front of incredibly infectious beats. This very upbeat opening act was an unusual but fitting choice for the show.

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