On paper, an evening with Widespread Panic has all the makings of being one of the most excruciating of your life. There will be gray-haired men playing congas. Hammond organ lines that can make a 10-minute-long version of a Black Sabbath song feel like a 20-minute-long Deep Purple deep cut. And six-string bass solos. Lots of those. Ordinarily in a preview, this is where I’d tell you that as bad as all that sounds, Widespread Panic is really OK live. But actually, I’ve given you the executive summary here: Widespread Panic will drain the blood from your night as expertly as it will exsanguinate a Talking Heads song, or a Parliament song, or any of the songs jam bands have to cover lest their audience notice how dire their originals are. I did interview some of the band’s members once and they were lovely human beings, but that is kind of hard to gather from beyond the fifth row.
WIDESPREAD PANIC PERFORMS AT 4:30 P.M. WITH THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND AT MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION, 10475 LITTLE PATUXENT PARKWAY, COLUMBIA, MD. (410) 715-5550. $40–75.