As might be expected, they’re not taking it well. Smyers’ piece has over 600 comments about what a Death Cab for Cutie-loving fag he is. His home number was also posted and he received rude and threatening calls there.
Let’s look at some of the words that caused this melee:
Along with the equally interminable Phish, Widespread Panic represents the worst inclinations of consumer capitalism and the senseless worship of instrumental prowess. Taking their cues from the latter-day excesses of Southern rock icons the Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic has rarely found a groove they could not pummel into oblivion, quite content to exploit the mindless, phallic-centered idolatry of all things elongated.
What’s odd about the fanaticism surrounding Widespread is the refusal of their rabid followers to accept any criticism whatsoever, a trait annoyingly shared by their aging deadhead brethren. Acting as if anyone wanting an actual song amidst the soloing was some kind of right-wing, Nazi conspirator, the cult of eternal Southern boogie is content to live out psychedelic fantasies of the ’60s with more interest in the potency of the weed on hand than on the music.
But what of it? Does Smyers have a point. Sadly, I think he does.
I love early Panic. Anything from the band’s first three discs is precious material to me. But the quality of song craft falls off steeply from there. As for the stubborn (at times obnoxious and stupid) Panic fans, they have long reminded me of myself when I was deep into the Dead. And it’s never a pleasant reminder. Close mindedness is not a pretty feature.