Home > Music > Allman Brothers Band/Widespread Panic @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

Allman Brothers Band/Widespread Panic @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

derektrucks

Last night dixie came north and incinerated a small patch of land in southern Maryland.  I’ve been to my fair share of concerts, but almost none were as primal or, dare I say, spiritual as the one that the Allman Brothers put on last night.  Notice, I did not say Widespread Panic.  Ok, let’s get to that first.

Widespread is a band with a fanatic following of mostly southerners.  In fact, I’ve never met a casual Panic fan.  Those who love them, absolutely LOVE them, and those who don’t, like me, well, I guess we just don’t get it.  I had hoped that their performance last night would finally pull me into their voodoo, when in fact it only solidified what I had felt before.  Here is a band comprised of astounding musicians – and my hat absolutely goes off to Dave Schools and Jimmy Herring, who were a blast to watch – that, in my opinion, are playing supremely mediocre songs.  These guys could do anything with their instruments.  Unfortunately they’re stuck playing songs whose admittedly catchy grooves inevitably get truncated by a stagnant chorus or a sloppy bridge.  Fun?  Absolutely.  And at least I can tell a Panic fan that I’ve ‘been there.’  Alas, I’m just not sure I want to go back.  Regardless of what I think of them, Panic got us all ready for the Allmans, an invaluable task considering the staggering power of what was about to unfold.

The Allmans Brothers are about much more than guitar solos.  I would hardly consider what Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, the band’s two 6 stringers, do as simple guitar playing.  First of all, there’s nothing simple about it, and in reality I would say the effect they have an audience is closer to that of two 1960’s torch singers.  It’s absolutely cliche to say, but they are truly singing with their instruments.  I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

Derek Trucks’ (pictured above) guitar playing is almost inconceivable as you’re watching him.  The man oozes groove and feel.  That he conveys almost no physical emotion during his performance would seem bizarre, if not disconcerting, if  it weren’t for the torrent of unbridled intensity pulsing out of his fingers, through his instrument, and all over the amazed audience.  For some time I’ve been steady in the fact that the great masters of rock and roll only exist in the past, and that for whatever reason, newer generations just can’t keep up.  For the most part I’m firm in this belief, though last night it became very clear to me that Derek Trucks deserves a spot in the Valhalla of great players.  Just for a minute or two, I was able to imagine what it must have been like to see Clapton, Hendrix, or Duane Allman for the first time.  He is that inspiring.  Simply put, there’s not a single guitar player out there today – especially one who’s only 30 – who is as exciting as Trucks.  Don’t believe me?  Go see him, and then we’ll talk.

The whole experience was this amazing duel sensation of comfort and adventure.  It’s a great thrill to be able to sing along with some of the hits.  Hitting the opening bars of “One Way Out” with Greg in tow is an undeniably giddy moment for any rock fan.  The same could be said of hearing the opening rumble of “Whipping Post.”  However, in both cases, the band leads you through the familiar pastures, and then takes you deep into the woods.  So you’re riding this horse you’ve known your whole life, but you’re riding it through canyons and chasms totally unexplored, and wildly exciting as a result.  Songs routinely stretched past the 10 minute mark.  This is irritating to some, but in the hands of such total pros, I can barely see how.  It’s almost as if the written song is holding them back, and they’re dying to break out into the wilderness.  Sorry, enough of the analogies.  An emotional night of rock and roll will do such things to people.

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