Widespread Panic at MGM National Harbor – Oxon Hill, MD


So, I’ve had this running joke for the past year.  Students panic around certain times of the semester: during late registration (the first week of the semester, when students who forgot to register do so or they change their mind about the courses for which they registered), during midterms, during the last week they can withdraw from courses, the last week in which they can register for courses the following semester, and finals week.  I joke that there’s Widespread Panic around campus…ahhahahhahah…ahhahahhahahah.

Anyway, I missed this week’s widespread panic on campus (course withdrawal week) due to going to Cs, but I was pumped to see the actual band play.  I flew into DC from Pittsburgh at 2:30 and met up with Nicole at her place, where we talked music, philosophy, life, and we played with her two Star Wars-themed kittens, Boba and Lando.  They were so cute!

Maggie arrived at around 4:30 due to that goshdarn traffic on I-95; Nicole introduced me to the I-95 Song(or the “Asshole” song).  Traffic on 95 continued to suck going up to MGM National Harbor, the hotel where the show took place, but we finally got there, with a couple of hours to spare.  We hit the Shake Shack in the hotel, the post-show spot Drew, Mark, and I picked when we saw Panic at this venue last year.  I got chicken bites with cheese dip, fries with cheese (“Come on, arteries, don’t fail me now”), and a Cookies and Cream shake.  I had gone to a custom-burger with my friend Karen in Pittsburgh the night prior, and I couldn’t finish the Smores shake I had ordered, so I felt the need to redeem myself.  Side note: I played Panic for Karen the night before, and she had described as “music you study to because it was mellow.”  I wanted to hug right there (and I think I did).

So, after dinner, we took selfies in this little garden-like structure, and the Cheesy String Trio was born.  I had told the tale of the picture I posted on Facebook of a can of tuna fish (Phish), string cheese (String Cheese Incident), and lettuce (Lettuce) over NYE 2017-2018; the plan was to see those three bands for the four nights up to New Year’s Eve.  So, we added to it.  Nicole mentioned that it seemed like more of a snack, and I don’t remember the order it went in, but this is what I gleaned from my notepad:

  • Cake could be dessert, with some Cranberries
  • There could be some Korn on the side.
  • Meat Loaf could be an alternative to Phish, with some Red Hot Chili Peppers on the side.
  • They’d play in Kansas.
  • No Beatles would be allowed (who wants insects in their food?).  No Anthrax either.   Either could cause Widespread Panic, and we’d be in Dire Straits.  But if there were no Beatles or Anthrax, we’d be Grateful not to be Dead.

Anywho, we tried to get into the theater at about 10 to 8, but we were told we had to get a wristband.  When we tried to get wristbands, we were told we had to get our hand stamped.  The guy with the hand stamp stamped our tickets instead, and he and the lady with the wristbands had a brief disagreement over whether he was to stamp our hand or the ticket.  So, this was the sequence: 1) get a stamp; 2) get a wristband; 3) move through the line; 4) get our tickets scanned; 5) remove all objects from pockets; and 6) get into the show.  This was the most complicated procedure to get into a show I had ever been a part of.  But we got in at about 8:10, just before the band went on.  We found a spot toward the back. 

The band opened with “The Take Out” and went into “Porch Song.”  After that came “Can’t Get High,” which always gives me that “skingasm.”  “Holden Oversoul” was pretty boppy, followed by a rocking “Old Neighborhood,” during which I started on some high-stepping.  “Airplane” is another of my favs, which I had never seen performed live until that moment.  During the jam, I heard an “Angels on High” tease, a tune I loved.  “Rebirtha” had me spinning in a circle, and “Sleeping Man” had me combining the high-steps and the spinning.  It was safe to say I had worked off those carbs from Shake Shack.  They closed with “Ain’t Life Grand,” during which John Bell (JB) brought out that mandolin.

Set 2 began in a pretty mellow fashion with “Proving Ground,” stepped up the intensity with “Impossible,” and then slowed back down to “Proving Ground” and stayed with that tempo in “Picking Up The Pieces.”  “Diner” was next, which Nicole had tagged me in earlier that day.  She dug it because it came from a show Panic did in Alpharetta, her “old neighborhood.”  I was especially happy to see them play it at her first show, one in which Maggie and I popped her “Widespread Cherry”.   Hahahahhahahah…hahahhahhhahhaha (10 minutes later) hahahahhahahah…ahhahahhahahahah (picks self up from floor, wipes tear from eye).  That one was all Maggie. J

I was stoked to see “Junior,” one of my favorites.  During that song, the vibe went down due to a shoving match nearby (At a Panic show?  Really?) and a drunk young woman being carried out by her friends (pretty typical at these shows, but still no fun to see).  At some point during the second set, Nicole and Maggie sat down in the hallway to rest.  During the “Drums and Bass” jam, equivalent to the Dead’s “Drums/Space,” I went to get water and I saw Maggie and Nicole chilling in the hallway, resting their feet.  I figured I’d take a little breather during this jam.  As we talked, we pondered leaving early.  Maggie was tired out, Nicole was zapped, neither thought they could make it through the show.  Another night, I might have powered through, but it was an exhausting week for this introvert, and I figured I’m planning to see the boys again in Durham, NC, in two weeks, so we ended up bouncing.   Upon looking at what I missed, “Cease Fire” (a tune I’m so-so about), “I’m Not Alone” (meh), “North” (a tune I do dig, but I’ll live), and “And It Stoned Me” (meh), I figured it’s all good.

After some confusion on finding a gas station and restroom off the highway, I crashed out once we hit Fredericksburg (as a passenger, of course), and we ended up getting back to Newport News at about 3.  My head hit that pillow like a ton of bricks.  I was up at around 10:30, and fortunately, writing this blog is helping me get back to life.  C-ya in Durham, boys! 


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