State Theater | Kalamazoo, MI | November 11, 1997
I like to think that, for any given night, music is in the ears of the beholder. As a result, there are certainly concert-goers that walk out of Widespread Panic shows with differing opinions as to the perceived quality of the nights’ performance. Never knowing what you’re going to get is sometimes closely followed by not really knowing what you just got. To that end, it’s always interesting to connect with friends and strangers after shows, to analyze the past and contemplate the future. So…for the 13th volume of Porch Songs, we do just that: ask a friend to reflect on this release. For that we turn to Steven J. Ziegler…known to most of us as The Z-Man.
Kalamazoo 11/11/97, was and still is one of my all time favorite Widespread Panic shows! I had to be in West Lafayette at Purdue University for work the next day, so I left work in Ohio and made the 2 ½ hour trip. Seeing the boys in a small Midwest theater is always a treat. I got there after the doors opened and ran into Dr. Michael P. We decided to set up our taping equipment in the front row of seats in the back of the pit. Of course, we saw the rest of the tapers in the back, next to the soundboard.
The boys were ALL business as they opened with “Weight of the World.” ”Aunt Avis” > “Walkin’” was next and then I got to hear my first “You’ll Be Fine” from Todd. “Glory” > “Rock” was smooth as can be. I always love hearing “Rock”. One of my oldest tour shirts, that I call “Rock on a Belly,” has a picture of Dave Schools on the front. After “Big Wooly Mammoth,” ”One Kind Favor” > “Love Tractor” was a superb set closer. It may have been my first time hearing Panic cover “One Kind Favor,” as they had just begun playing it in 1997.
The second set was Pure Classic Panic, as the boys “‘Got Down To Business.” Then, “Hope In A Hopeless World,” led into a killer “Disco” > “Diner”. “Diner” was and still is my favorite Panic song and I was SO happy to hear it. I was whipped into a frenzy, but then they took it to the next level when they segued into “Arleen!” WOW! “Drums” led into another favorite, “Pilgrims.” Time for an instrumental, welcome “B Of D”. Prior to this show, I can’t remember hearing the closing 2 songs of the set back to back, but “Raise the Roof” and “Last Dance” were unmatched! What an end to a rockin’ 2nd set! “Makes Sense To Me” closed it all out as the encore.
Did I just see the show I thought I saw and heard? As Michael and I packed up, I noticed we were the only 2 left in the theater. I walked out the front door and much to my surprise, it had snowed 6” during the show! The first snowfall of the year. I brushed off my Jeep and managed to make it to I-94 West. Well, I rode the tail lights of an 18 wheeler and managed to get to the next exit, about 10 miles, in an hour! I got off, grabbed a room at a hotel, and went inside. I unpacked my gear to listen to the show and figure this whole thing out. And guess what, I really DID see the show I thought I just saw and heard!
As always, keep in mind that when listening to these Porch Song releases, what you’re really hearing is a recording of what came through the house speakers the night of the show…so there is no post-show engineering opportunity to dial in each instrument and vocal to perfection as there is with the Widespread Panic Multitrack Releases. What you’ll also find on these Porch Song recordings is the occasional digital noise or static resulting from the onstage recording process and/or the ravages of tape degradation. In this release, we’re stuck with a show that’s pretty damn clean…but to get there…as always, we’ve preserved what we could, doctored up what we’ve been able to…and, in this ongoing process, refuse to let a random blemish prevent the spreading of this amazing music. So, sit back, settle in and let this band take you on another incredible journey.
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