Once again it began with a tweet from Widespread Panic's twitter account @widespreadpanic : "Milwaukee, Best for last".
It brought a smile to my face. I'm not gonna lie, the day was full of bittersweet emotions knowing it was my last Panic show for a while. As it would turn out, Panic delivered on their promise.
The mood inside the Riverside was electric. Fans from all over the country assembled at the historical theater for the final show of the three day Milwaukee run.
Set one began with "Porch Song", and it was met with universal approval from the crowd. The quiet version of the song was delivered with just the perfect amount of intensity, and it was a sure sign that an amazing night of music was upon us. "Stop Breaking Down" came next, and guitarist Jimmy Herring had himself a field day attacking the classic song from all angles, his guitar screaming artfully constructed blues tones much to the delight of everyone in attendance.
And then something happened that I'd never heard before, the band jammed a monster "Party At Your Mama's House" that melted into "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature", a first for that pairing of songs if I'm not mistaken.
"No Sugar Tonight" was just a treat and as I looked back on the faces of the fans in the front row I saw a lot of pure bliss happening all around me. The band had only been onstage for a handful of minutes and they were firing on all cylinders.
And that's they way the rest of the first set went, Panic moved from one song to the next with comfort and ease, on a stage that they've spent so many hours creating a unique bond with. "C. Brown" and "Love Tractor" were two of the highlights that helped round out the first set, and showcased the incredible dynamic range that happens on any given night with Widespread Panic. With such a wide selection of songs to pick from their catalog still on the table, we all waited patiently during set break for our next dose of music.
Then it happened, a second set of tunes culled from 25 years of an illustrious career worthy of a spot in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was more than just connecting the dots, it was more than playing the songs note for note from memory. This was a setlist crafted with love, played to an audience with heart and soul.
I'm afraid to even write too much about what I heard as to not sully the memory. Without getting too far into esoteric territory, I can say for certainty that even having missed the second night to cover the Evanescence show, this most certainly was the best Panic concert I've seen in some time, and Panic most definitely saved the best for last.