When Widespread Panic walks onto a stage, there’s an incredible presence. Most notably because there are a lot of people on stage: guitarist John Bell, bassist Dave Schools, drummer Todd Nance, percussionist Domingo Ortiz, keyboardist John Hermann, and the band’s newest addition, guitarist Jimmy Herring, who’s played with the Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, and others. Herring’s a master guitar player, and last night he ripped it as though he'd been with the band since its inception twenty years ago.
Schools was a major rockstar in his all-black threads with a fan blowing on him for the duration of the show, and John Bell’s voice is an undeniable classic—at once both throaty and smooth, which lends itself to the band’s bluesy, Southern-rock style. But the highlight of the show was a skillful percussion solo by Ortiz (which Panic fans have come to expect), with Nance eventually joining him in this jam.
I could’ve used a little more rock and a little less jam, but overall, Panic played a good balance of old classics—including "Diner," "Love Tractor," and "Happy"—and new stuff from its 2006 CD, Earth to America. The band kept Northrop Auditorium jam-packed with hippies for four hours.