Saturday, September 18, 2010

wide (open) spread panic opener

Last night, Widepsread Panic opened their fall tour in of all places - Morgantown. They were set to play the Coliseum which struck me as odd because I thought the venue was too large. Regardless, I thought it was immensely cool that Panic decided to play there. All they've ever had there in the past are some mid-range country shows (Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Lee Ann Womack, maybe a Shooter Jennings come to mind).

Well, Jess went shopping and got caught up in major traffic in Little Washington, so I just decided to go solo. What are you gonna do? So I hit the road and it was one lane through the West Alex area which I got snagged in for about 10 minutes. No big deal. Made it to the Coliseum and hooked up with Gary and Greg and an wide array of tailgaters. You rarely get to see the WVU hippie population at a centralized location. And there was a shitload of nitrous. Kind of surprised they didn't crack down on any of it.

I saw my favorite scalping buddy Brian. I asked him, "What the fuck are doing all the way down here?" He shakes his head and lamentably responds, "Yeah... I didn't know this was a deadhead concert. I should have worked Rascal Flatts tonight. Eric, do you think any of these people got any money?" I reply, "Yeah right, look around. Are you fucking kidding me?" The irony - all the freshman WVU girls are superloaded hippettes from New Jersey and the DC beltway. This has always been an interesting sidenote/anomaly with WVU. They come here in droves. Always have, always will.

Tix were kind of pricey - $39 and for students, $29. There was now way in hell I was paying for this show. Of course, this has become a standard, monotonous refrain. So I walked around the side with the equipment rigs. It was loosely being guarded but still too risky. It was about 8:30pm and darkness had set in. The opening act was over and the lot was pretty much deserted. I had a crunched up $10 bill in my hand but didn't envision much luck with this one. So I proceeded to walk to the North side of the lot. As I approached the gates, there was a fenced in smoking area with about 200 hippies chaining their collective brains out. You could really smell the stench of low-grade tobacco. It was so overwhelming it kind of made you sick.

Regardless, I walk around and notice that the metal barrier on the corner has been pushed aside. I thought to myself, "For Christ sake, it's wide open." So I just slip in doing a move comparable to a "square dance Dosey-Do." Seriously, that was far too simple. In about 4 seconds I was in the door. Way too fucking easy - borderline comical.

Just as I walked in, the lights went out. Perfect timing. Panic opened with some upbeat stuff. Typically I know about 4 songs out of the 20 some songs they'll play. I always get a kick when some youthful bearded dufus reaches his hands to the sky and celebrates the intro to some song as if it's the song he has desperately been waiting to hear. Let me be blunt, skank-fucking-dank-ass-kid I'm talking to you, if I have no idea what that tune is, I seriously doubt that you know what it is.

Anyhoo, Panic played an unusually strong first set. Very upbeat tempo and they seemed in great form for the fall opener. I really like these guys. They're just a straight-up jam band without all the pretension and melodramatic nonsense. I like the old bongo player - he reminds me of a young Mr. Mayagi. Not so much from Karate Kid I & II, but surprisingly III and The Next KKK with Hillary Swank. I say this because his roles were more subliminal and he lad less impact in the later years. Still he could bring it. Like in the final edition where instead of honking the villain's nose, he exhales on him and "blows him to defeat." Who the fuck was that guy anyway? He was a ruthless ex-military thug/bully that lost the war and returned to unleash his venom on high school kids and an aspiring female karate student? What the fuck is that?
I also like the fat ass rhythm guitarist with the long black hair. He looks almost identical to the Soundgarden guitarist - just add a mere 150 lbs. I wish the lead singer had a more appealing voice but that raw southern twang does lend itself to their brand of music.

So during the second set, I ran into the indomitable Matt Ewing (always a pleasant surprise) and saw Kota and a few others roaming around. I fashioned a napkin into a fake white wrist band to gain floor access. That failed miserably when the female attendant asked to take a closer look. For some reason, I burst into laughter. "Yeah, this bullshit wrist band is pretty ghetto." I walked away secretly relieved. The floor was way too crowded and hot. The first level seats were far superior.

This show seemed to fucking drag on til about 11:45pm. Ridiculously too long. They started at fucking 8:45pm and played their usual 2 full sets. Then they brought out the opening act for some kind of celebratory "Blood-Panic" jam. Simply put, this was the concert that refused to die. I decided to exit and head back to the car. As I walked back I found a ticket stub lying on the ground for my bedroom wall. Sweet. Ironically, a floor ticket.

I hung out in the lot for about an hour after the show ended and ate a slice of pizza and a grilled cheese. I always feel some sympathy for the food, t-shirt and craft vendor hippies. They're laying it all on the line and meanwhile everyone's dishing out monster cash for balloons. And the balloons were in full force after the show. Back in the day, I would have succumbed. These days I'm a little leery about hippie crack. So I bolted the lot and got home just before 2am. Fun time, long ride home. Something about that extra 15 minutes on the Mo-town trip. Pittsburgh always seems so much easier. I think it has something to do with the hills. I'll be skipping the WVU- Maryland game at noon. Too bad, the weather is ideal.

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