No manic, just Panic
July 07, 2010
Spud a proven must-stop anchor for concert tours in eastern Idaho.
LEFT: Widespread Panic guitarist John Bell rolls through the Fourth of July on Sunday evening, playing to the delight of more than 4,000 fans and concert-goers at the Spud Drive-In in Driggs. CITIZEN PHOTO / JEANNETTE BONER
There was a moment when everything seemed to click perfectly early on during the second-half of Widespread Panic’s set.
The sun had plunged below the western skyline beyond the towering movie screen at The Spud, delivering the night’s starfilled darkness that allowed a brilliant light show to shine behind the Athens, Ga., band’s stage setup.
Lead guitarist Jimmy Herring wailed away on “Immitation Leather Shoes” while frontman John Bell, bassist Dave Schools and the rest of the gang laid down a mean rhythm.
In all directions, the capacity crowd in front of the stage writhed to the beat, many singing along, nary a soul standing still.
The Panic buzz was in full swing.
Here on the Fourth of July, 2010, Widespread Panic and a legion of fans celebrated their own independence. But instead of being at merely a concert, everyone attended a Widespread Panic event, one that will be talked about and remembered for years to come.
The day before the first notes of Panic’s roughly three-hour set eminated from the band’s towering speaker system, revelers had gathered in the field adjacent to the drive-in theater. Tents, camper trailers, cars and trucks began to fill the lush grassy area in preparation for the celebration.
As the countdown to launch grew closer with every passing minute, the normally car-filled lot where popular movies and cartoons would play at dusk on the massive movie screen evolved into a setting quite different from the norm.
More than a dozen vendors had lined the perimeter with beers and cocktails, pizza and other munchies and shirts and hoola hoops for sale. Gradually the dusty area filled with concert-goers ready for Panic to create their Fourth of July soundtrack.
When the band emerged and set-opener “Send Your Mind” by Van Morrison started, it was time for the ascent to engage in full. Panic’s beginning set under the late-evening sun fueled the crowds’ energy with superb renditions of “Blackout Blues,” “Shut Up and Drive,” “Barstools and Dreamers” and -- best of the first half -- “Diner.”
After a 15-minute or so intermission, the concert’s second half commenced and it seemed the party shifted into overdrive. All over spectators danced and laughed and sang with each other, enjoying the freedom to be as they wanted.
Hearing songs like “Christmas Katie,” “Love Tractor” and “Papa’s Home” in the outdoor venue made it obvious that The Spud is not just a locale for movies; it needs to be a must-stop anchor for concert tours in eastern Idaho.
When the show wrapped with “Pilgrims” and “Dirty Side Down” as the encore, James Brown’s “Living in America” blared over the loudspeaker and the house lights illuminated the dusty dancefloor and the still-raging Panic fans.
While the Godfather of Soul sang about how great it is to live in the United States, perhaps it was more important to realize how special it is to live in Teton Valley.