Widespread Panic Busts It Big For Three Nights at MGM National Harbor

Veteran rockers Widespread Panic brought their unique blend of jam, funk and southern rock to the Theater at MGM National Harbor for three consecutive nights
(March 15-17), culminating with the finale on St. Patrick's Day. The band wowed capacity crowds at the casino's music room – a 3,000-capacity theater that features a state-of-the-art sound system and three tiers of viewing spots. The large room was configured for maximum capacity with a general-admission floor, private suites and an seated upper level balcony. The wide stage comfortably housed the 6-man band and provided a perfect canvas for Panic's long-time lighting director, Paul Hoffman.

NIGHT 1 – Thursday, March 15

Photo by Josh Brick

Photo by Josh Brick

The band began their three-night run on Thursday, March 15 and treated the lively crowd to an impressive debut performance at the MGM.  The first set featured several original tunes including 'Travelin' Man,' played for the first time since 2014, and was the debut for Duane Trucks (drums). Trucks joined the band in late 2014 after the departure of the original drummer Todd Nance and showed his value throughout the run, consistently displaying both  power and precision. Near the end of the first set, Panic played a couple of tunes by The Band ('The Shape I'm In, Ophelia) to the delight of the crowd before closing the first set with 'Porch Song.' 

After halftime, the band emerged with the funky 'Old Neighborhood' followed by 'Visiting Day' featuring John "JoJo" Herman (keys) on lead vocals. With Panic settled in, they raised the ante with the Jerry Joseph-penned, 'North' featuring Jimmy Herring (guitar) with some serious fretwork and beautiful bends during an extended solo. Trucks took the helm for a drum solo, before the band emerged and segued into the iconic intro of 'Come Together' by The Beatles (last played in November 2005). The crowd was amped as many were aware the tune hadn't been played in more than 800 shows. 'Surprise Valley' closed out the second set before the two-song encore. 'Radio Child' preluded the final tune, a powerful cover of Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth'.  A mere miles from the White House, the band made their final point of the evening and set the tone for a memorable casino run near DC.


NIGHT 2 – Friday, March 16

The energy was palpable for Friday's sold-out show, with fans once again filing into the Theater at  MGM. 'Chainsaw City,' a Little Women cover, got things going before JJ Cale's 'Travelin' Light.' The tune featured John Bell's haunting vocals and the band chugged along with sustained momentum from Night 1. A mid-set 'Big Wooly Mammoth' featured JoJo on vocals and piano. Panic was firing on all cylinders once again, launching into an extended Mammoth jam led by Dave Schools (bass) laying down a deep groove. Set 1 closer featured 'Driving Song' with 'Disco' sandwiched between, bringing the band back to their early sound. The instrumental 'Disco' provided a funky jam segment, allowing the band to stretch things out and settle deep into the groove before yet another fierce solo by Herring.

Photo by Caitlin Moore

Photo by Caitlin Moore

After a long break, Bell led the vocal intro to War's 'Slippin' Into Darkness' before the band joined in, providing a thundering beat. Schools bounced on bass with Herring providing tasteful fills throughout. After several originals,including 'Machine' and 'Heroes', the band debuted a Robert Johnson cover, 'Love In Vain' that featured JoJo on the organ and Herring playing a Fender Stratocaster. Things got heavy as the band swelled with the opening notes of 'Goin' Out West' by Tom Waits. The crowd sang along as the train was rolling for Night 2. Percussionist Domingo 'Sunny' Ortiz then joined Trucks for a powerful drum duo that entranced the lively crowd. Their power was on display as the beat reverberated throughout the room, leaving fans in awe. The second Robert Johnson tune of the night, 'Me and the Devil Blues,' came near the end of the set, with JB's vocals once again on display. Herring took the helm with a piercing solo to close out the impressive rendition of the blues number. 'Pigeons' closed the second set, with Schools leading the way with some impressive bass lines. The encore included of 'Henry Parsons Died' (BloodKin) and the rocking 'Postcard' as fans sang along with the band "This town is nuts, my kind of place!" Two down and one to go.


NIGHT 3 - Saturday, March 17

The MGM was buzzing for the final night, with fans donning green for St. Patrick's Day. Panic set the tone of the party with originals 'Tall Boy' and 'Up All Night.' The first set comprised of mostly original tunes and the band was in top form yet again. Crowd-favorite, 'Bust It Big' kept spirits high, before a powerful, set closing duo of Protein Drink> Sewing Machine. Somehow, the band sounded even bigger on this ultimate night, with Herring once again sounding the bell with raucous solo to end the first set.

Photo by Caitlin Moore

Photo by Caitlin Moore

'Rock' opened the final set and the train was roaring yet again. The crowd was indeed rocking as the band followed with a couple of covers – Alan Price's 'Sell, Sell' and 'See That My Grave Is Kept Clean' by Blind Lemon Johnson. Set 2 featured the second-time performed original, 'Sundown Betty' before entering the final stanza of the run. A powerful 'Fishwater' had the crowd grooving before the band segued into the ever-popular 'Red Hot Mama' by Funkadelic. Panic closed out their impressive casino run with 'Saint Ex' before before giving the fans a St. Patrick's Day treat with the traditional Irish lullaby, 'Tura Lura Lural.' The crowd swayed, drinks held high in salute to both the band and the Irish. Widespread Panic concluded Night 3 with the disco-fueled rocker, 'Love Tractor.'  Fans spilled out of the MGM Theatre for the last time, exalting in joy after three great nights of Panic at the casino.  

Setlist

Setlist

Setlist


Click here to see the setlist for Widespread Panic's performance at The MGM Grand at National Harbor on March 15, 16, and 17

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery


Enjoy photos  of Night 1 - March 15 by our photographer Josh Brick  of Josh Brick Graphics

About the author

Josh Brick

Josh Brick is amongst the most prolific photographers in the Washington, DC area. On any given night Josh can be found literally at any venue in and around the Washington, Maryland, and Virginia landscape.