The story behind Widespread Panic’s free outdoor concert in their Athens hometown on April 18th, 1998 is told in a forthcoming book written by Flagpole columnist Gordon Lamb, set for release this April 15th, nearly 20 years to the day after the notorious show.
The legend goes that the band and Capricorn Records wanted to tie into the album’s release with a free outdoor show for their devoted local fans to celebrate the release of their first live album, Light Fuse Get Away. With the stage set up at the west end of W. Washington Street, in front of the 40 Watt Club (where AthFest has subsequently situated its main outdoor stage), organizers expected 20,000 SpreadHeads to attend but instead upwards of five times that many flooded the downtown streets. Informally referred to as “the world’s largest record release party,” the concert was filmed and was itself released in 2002 in DVD and audio CD formats.
For the 128-page Widespread Panic in the Streets of Athens, Georgia, Lamb spoke with band members, Athens city officials and fans, giving the story of the show and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to pull it off. It’s currently available for pre-order via ugapress.org/index.php/books/widespread_panic/.