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Widespread Panic at Durham Performing Arts Center – Durham, NC 

WSP in Durham, NC

So this would be a solo show.  The hope was to head down with Brometheus and Brodysseus (Drew and Mark), and to meet with Ellen, but Mark and Drew ended up tickets for the Friday night show, and I’m just not in a position to take a Friday off to head down to a show at this time, and Ellen had a work emergency.  All good.

On Friday morning, my car greeted me by turning on the battery charge light.  Nooooo!, I thought.  Not on a show weekend!  The show I saw two weeks ago with Maggie and Nicole was not enough!  After risking a breakdown to go to my teaching job (the things I do for the kids), I came out, and the battery had turned off.  I was confused, so I had a test done at Auto Zone.  “Bad Battery,” the meter read.  I had made an appointment with the dealership to get it checked out, but nothing till Monday.  So I forked out some bucks on a rental.  And I was in love.  That black 2019 RAV4 just looked badass, and I felt so driving it.  My 2007 Camry has an old-school CD player in it, but the newer cars have the USB port where you can plug your phone into, so on the ride down to Durham, I was able to jam to some shows on Relisten, a hugely awesome app.  Phish (7/19/17), the Grateful Dead (3/24/93), and Widespread Panic (3/17/19) provided a nice soundtrack to the Norman Rockwell/Johnny Cash vibe that permeated the backroads of rural Southern Virginia (side note: “Rocky Top,” “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” and “Tennessee Jed” were part of it).  Is Tennessee in my future?  Hmmmmm…

I arrived at the AirBnB, a quaint bungalow owned by a nice young lady named Rachel (a native New Yorker and transplanted Southerner, just like me) a little after 3:00 and promptly took a nap before the show.  From there, I did the 37-minute walk to the Blue Note Grille, where the Bros had gotten dinner as posted on Facebook.  I decided I would follow in their footsteps for the pre-show ritual (couldn’t find that bull with the hanging testicles, though).  Upon being greeted, the host smiled and said, “Just one?”  I politely said, “Yes, one.”  The food was great!  I had this appetizer called the Nosh, which consisted of deviled eggs, celery with pimento cheese, crackers, and bread-and-butter pickles.  The entrée: ¼ rack of ribs, mac and cheese, and hush puppies.  Great food, great service, but I wrote what I consider to be a helpful suggestion on the back of the check: Train your hosts not to say, “JUST one,” especially since I was not the only solo diner in the place.  One is enough!

Despite my Google Maps hiccupping, I found Cocoa Cinnamon, a hipstervibeish coffee house, where I had a nice Americana and did some reading; this book nerd takes his backpack with his books with him wherever he goes.  Sadly, the backpack had to be checked in at DPAC, but the staff was very friendly about it (more so than those Cheeseheads at the Riverside). 

I made my way up to my seat, where my neighbors and I starting throwing out requests (“Little Lilly,” Walk on Guilded Splinters,” “Heroes,” “For What It’s Worth”).   I also took in the venue, a very intimate space, and the wood paneling is a nice touch. Right before the boys went on, the speakers blasted “Shakedown Street,” and the crowd began to boogie.  Such teasers!  The set started with “Ophelia,” “The Shape I’m In,” “Pigeons,” and “Gradle,” right before my first skingasm of the night occurred with “All Time Low.”  “Use Me” was next, and Skingasm Numero Dos occurred with “Glory.”  Everyone around me was just bopping to it, while I was moving around so much I think folks thought I was either tripping or having a seizure.  The vibe calmed with “Nobody’s Loss,” and closed down with “Space Wrangler.”  During my walk to the show, I met some folks, Paul, Doug, and some dude wearing a shirt with a combination of the Mets logo and the Steely face.  Being a Met fan from New York, I had to do the fist-bump thing (series win over Washington this weekend!). 

While I was in the bathroom over setbreak, the announcement over the loudspeaker blared, “Two minutes until the second set begins.”  Despite the fact that “two minutes” means “ten to fifteen,” I walked rapidly to my seat. 

Set Two began with “Fishwater,” right before my neighbor’s “Guilded Splinters” wish was fulfilled.  “Jam” took place afterward; this tune has also been done by the Dead, Phish, and so many other groups.  It’s popular for sure, just like the band Special Guest.

Skingasm #3 occurred with “Bear’s Gone Fishin’”, a tune I first experienced live in Raleigh on 4/30/16.  At that point, it became my favorite one to see performed live.  The skingasm extended with “Tie Your Shoes.”  I was bummed when I heard a “Red Hot Mama” tease (hoping for #4), but they went into “Walkin’ (For Your Love)”.  Good enough.  “Gimme” took us into another realm, and “Jack” is a chill tune, a touching song about the little guy (just my interpretation of the lyrics).  “Chainsaw City” (#5) and “Climb to Safety” (#6).  Every note hit me on #6.  Side note: after the show, a dude was telling me his son was giving him a hard time because he thought “Climb to Safety” was about his girlfriend.  I see it as more of a spiritual thing, but to each his/her own.  A mini-drum jam preceded “Fishwater,” which made for a nice rap.

The band teased Dropkick Murphy’s “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” (plans for next spring?), but they ended up going into “Good People” and a rockin’ Tom Petty tribute with “You Wreck Me.”  Lucky Number Seven! 

Because the show wasn’t enough, I listened to 3/17/19 on my headphones on my way back to the Airbnb.  The next day, I was able to stream Friday night’s show and live vicariously through the Bros. 

Shows are great for ideas: 1) A freewrite for my Honors Composition class, where they’re studying perceptions of singlehood and relationships.   I devise the following scenario: John has tickets for these concerts he’s been dying to go to.  He was looking forward to taking his girlfriend, but she’s fallen into a depression and can’t go.  Instead, she’s decided to fly to see her family.  Should John offer to go with her or just see the concerts with his bro?  

2) More material for my screenplay, including a scene where Travis, the character who laughs at his own jokes, loses control over his laughter, while Randy, a dreadlocked kid with delusions of being a ladies’ man, tries to “mack it” with two cheerleaders at his high school but can’t hide his embarrassment.

3) My Honors Composition class is writing an essay where they have to use the hyperlink, and they’re coming in for required individual conferences for feedback this week.  If they’re having trouble with using hyperlinks, they won’t see the blog, but I’ll show them this as a Word document.  I don’t broadcast this side of my personality at work, but I play music in my office and have turned a couple of students onto the likes of the Dead and String Cheese Incident.

Friday, April 5 at noon is a big event.  Tickets for the Red Rocks show go on sale, because the two Panic shows I went to his month weren’t enough.  Wish me luck!

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