Widespread Panic at Wolf Trap by Flora Scott

“Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior distributed over a large area and number of people” is the definition of Widespread Panic and, coincidentally, what permeated the audience the first time Wolf Trap’s Filene Amphitheater hosted the band on June 5, 2013. Widespread Panic is a jam band that was birthed in Athens, Georgia back in 1986 when all the original band members were attending UGA. They’ve since lost and gained members of the family and matured into a illustrious “road warrior” band with followings much like that of the Grateful Dead and Phish. Notorious for their live shows – they currently hold the record for sold-out performances at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado – a legendary venue. Filene’s 6,800 seat indoor/outdoor picturesque theatre could challenge when and if they come see us again.

Widespread Panic. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Widespread Panic. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

John Bell (guitars and vocals), JoJo Hermann (keyboards and vocals), Jimmy Herring (guitars), Todd Nance (drums and vocals), Domingo S. Ortiz (percussion and vocals) and Dave Schools (bass and vocals) – in their unassuming manner – serenaded the audience in front of a double horseshoe of lights surrounding a psychedelic video screen and effectively cast the sweet-sounding spell that bewitched and hypnotized all eager seekers. Every single performance – including “Wonderin'” ‘Pilgrims,’ ‘Tall Boy’ and “Shut Up and Drive” to encores “Aunt Avis” and “No Sugar Tonight” were an exclusive event – not only from the point of view of a fan who may have seized upon the night’s magic to relive younger days, but to the young and faithful alike. Each live show spontaneously weaved fresh tempos and/or chord structures into songs which constituted a constant reawakening of their compositions and provided a perpetually pristine experience for audience members – which is exactly the attraction to attending multiple shows. Each was a one-of-a-kind musical moment of inspiration and expression.

I attended UGA back in the nineties and like R.E.M., Widespread Panic was something we the people derived a deep sense of pride in having fostered. Once they put on a show in downtown Athens, Ga. that my boyfriend and our roommate cannon-balled in to. If you can imagine. I tried, but neither one of them were available to come to this show with me. Another time in college, a girlfriend and I bought plane tickets to a sold-out show at the aforementioned Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. We never got into the show but the whole mind-blowing adventure was the stuff Hunter S. Thompson stories are made of.  I contacted that girl after this show (captured by the sweet-sounding spell) to see if we couldn’t/shouldn’t attempt another admission at one of their upcoming sold-out shows in Colorado. But she couldn’t help me out either. And all I am left with is Widespread Panic – if you know I mean.

Widespread Panic performed on June 5, 2013 at Wolf Trap  – 1645 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. Check Widespread Panic » Tour to plan your trip and click here Find Performances & Events for future events at Wolf Trap.


See the set list at Wolf Trap.



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