Widespread Panic To Play Free Show

Widespread Panic will celebrate its new double live album, "Light Fuse Get Away," and a planned summer mini-festival with a free concert April 18 in Athens, Georgia.

While an early estimate placed the crowd between 10,000 to 25,000, publicists for Panic say that the band now expects upwards of 50,000 fans, which would make it one of the largest outdoor record release/concerts ever -- surpassing the 30,000 people that Metallica drew to the CoreStates Complex in Philadelphia last November. Hotels in Athens are already booked solid for the weekend of the show.

Although the concert is still more than a month away, local officials are apparently having some difficulty finding sponsors to help underwrite the expenses of staging the free show, which could run as much as $30,000.

Talks are being held with Vic Chesnutt and Gov't Mule about possibly opening the free show, which will be staged in a five block area in front of the 40 Watt Club. Chesnutt and Panic have collaborated

on past recording projects, and Chesnutt wrote "Aunt Avis" [730k QuickTime], the band's last single, which featured a video directed by longtime Panic fan Billy Bob Thornton.

The group is also finalizing plans for its own mini-festival tour this summer, and have already nailed down a commitment from psychedelic rockers Moe.