It takes big cajones to walk away from your dream job, especially when it entails working with an idol. When Sam Holt parted ways with Widespread Panic to blaze his own trail with Outformation, he did just that. A certain segment of the Panic fan population wanted him to get the lead guitar job his former employers had open after George McConnell got the boot. Fact is, though, it was never offered, and Holt’s gone on record as saying that even if it had been on the table, he’s not sure what he’d have done.
Despite all this, a certain percentage of fans bag on Holt and company for sounding too much like Panic – the guitarist in particular. Message board obsessives claim that he’s completely ripping off Michael Houser’s licks, phrasing, and his style.
I can’t help but laugh at these armchair quarterbacks, because there are a few realities about what Outformation as a band and what they do on a nightly basis. There’s a clear Widespread Panic influence there – it’s pretty evident. If you asked each member of the band how Panic shaped their musical approach, it would probably come into play to some degree If not, they probably would cite influences that Panic would list as well.
I saw them play Newby’s in Memphis a few weeks back, and quite frankly, they tore the place up. It wasn’t the best Outformation show I’ve seen, but they put on a great show.