Those who say April 20 isn’t a holiday haven’t seen the SweetWater 420 Festival lineup.
The folks at SweetWater Brewing Company wouldn’t put together a stack of jam, funk, bluegrass and electronic artists if there wasn’t anything to celebrate.
The annual three-day music festival takes place in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park and highlights the hippie lifestyle with jamming music, SweetWater brews, art and food vendors, environmental education (Earth Day is April 22) and, of course, marijuana.
Headliners for 2019 include Athens legacy Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.
Widespread Panic is the star of the show this year, playing four sets over two nights.The band started in Athens 30 years ago and have come a long way from playing in dive bars downtown.
Everyone remembers the beautiful chaos that was “Panic in the Streets” in 1998. What started as a free, open-air record release for the band’s Southern hometown grew into the world’s largest record release party ever, some reports claiming a 100,000-person audience.
Well, students now don’t necessarily remember it, but the legend of that day remains in tact.
It’s been my whole lifetime since that historic music event, but Widespread Panic isn’t slowing down. Here’s what you need to know about the jam band before seeing them at SweetWater this weekend.
1. Widespread Panic holds the record for the most sold-out shows at Red Rocks.
The stunning concert venue near Morrison, Colorado, holds about 9,500 people and has natural acoustics and clout that make it any artist’s dream to perform there. Not surprising, the band has already sold out the June 29 and 30 shows at Red Rocks for this year.
2. Band members are no strangers to being festival headliners.
Widespread Panic has headlined Bonnaroo eight times, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and more.
3. The band has a place in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
It was inducted in 2008 after about 25 years of performing together. Widespread Panic’s name sits next to fellow Athens legend R.E.M. as well as musicians such as Ray Charles and the Allman Brothers Band.
4. No two shows are the same.
Of course this would be a case — Widespread Panic is known for jamming on stage, and it just wouldn’t be Widespread Panic without this element of improv. The band takes influences from all kinds of rock genres, including blues, jazz and anything else that comes to them on the stage.
5. The band members have 55 albums.
OK, so 43 of them are live. But even though the songs may repeat, the jam experience within each track cannot be mimicked. Besides, how can you listen to a Widespread Panic song if it’s not a live version?
6. Widespread Panic performs from 7:30-11 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 and 6:30-10 p.m. on Sunday, April 21.
Get ready for the jam.