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Music DVD Review: Widespread Panic – Live from Austin, TX

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Written by Fumo Verde

If you can catch Austin City Limits, then do so for you may get a chance to see something like this. The band from Georgia plays an amazing show on a Halloween Night in 2000. This DVD will be a special one for the hardcore fans, for it features the late, great Michael Houser.

From what I’ve been told and have read, a Panic show is never the same nor do they play each song the same way, ever. Vic Chesnutt’s “Let’s Get Down to Business” starts out the show and gets everybody in the mood. This is followed by a Panic favorite “Ain’t Life Grand.” John Bell’s gruff voice fits Houser’s lyrics like a glove as the tempo quickens, such as life itself. “Space Wrangler” follows it, starting out with a Texas swing groove as the tale of child growing up is told. The beat of the tune turns into more of a rock jam for a bit then falls back into that tumbleweed groove it was showing in the beginning. Panic is known for doing this, taking the music and letting the tune find itself while the band comes along for the journey.

One of my favorites on this DVD was “Climb to Safety” with its energized guitar riffs. The bongo collaboration along with the drums gives this song a groove that had me tapping my feet. Add lyrics such as these: “Time will surely mold you/ into something you don’t like/ Get you runnin’ like a rabbit/ stick your finger in the dyke,” and I have found a new favorite song. This DVD also contains songs like “Casa Del Grillo,” J.J Cale’s “Travelin’ Light,” “Bear’s Gone Fishin’,” and “Porch Song.” This DVD contains eleven songs from a band that has no fear about trying new types of musical genres, even when they are on stage.

For someone who has only heard a few albums and would love to see Panic live, this is the closest I’ve come yet, and each time I hear them, I love their music more. My thanks to Austin City Limits for being one of the best live musical shows around that is still “Made in America,” and thanks from bringing us one of the most talented bands around, Widespread Panic.

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