We are enamored with compartmentalizing our musical tastes. Blues. Rock. Country. Folk. Rap. Punk. Musicians, though, are rarely ever influenced by a single musical genre. As a result, our labels are often inaccurate and overly restrictive. Worse, restrictive labeling can negatively influence people who have preconceived notions of the sound that such genres connote. In some instances, those notions fill people with absolute abhorrence. The mere mention of the label and people will immediately dismiss the particular musician or band with prejudice. There will be no appeals. And certainly no need to hear evidence, i.e., the actual music.
“Jam band” is one such label. It practically invites discord. But what if you approached the music through a different door, ignoring the one labeled “jam band”? Would an invitation to hear an indie rock band with a keyboard, percussive and bass-laden funk groove sound more appealing? If so, then meet Goose.
Hailing from Connecticut, the band, consisting of Rick Mitarotonda (vocals, guitar), Peter Anspach (vocals, keys, guitar), Trevor Weekz (bass), Ben Atkind (drums) and Jeff Arevalo (vocals, percussion, drums), have experienced a meteoric rise in only a few short, and Covid-interrupted, years. In fact, they arguably increased in popularity during the pandemic using it to their advantage to live stream an interactive “Bingo Tour” with their fans, determining setlists through a live bingo game.
As pandemic-related restrictions eased slightly in the fall of 2020, Goose hit the road for sold out drive-in shows across the country. They also released a surprise EP (Night Lights) and live streamed their annual “Goosemas” holiday concert from a rooftop in Rockefeller Center that drew nearly 60,000 online viewers and raised $45,000 for Save our Stages and Conscious Alliance.
If that were not enough, Goose has also been quite prolific in the studio over the past few years. In addition to their 2016 debut release, Moon Cabin, and the aforementioned EP, Night Lights, Goose released their second and third full-length albums – Shenanigans Night Club in 2021 and Dripfield in 2022 – as well as a second EP, Undecided, in late 2022. They have also made countless shows since 2018 available for download, and are currently offering livestreams of the sold out shows on their current spring tour. It is clear that fans have an insatiable appetite for this band and Goose is delivering in spades.
For those people who are not into the “jam band scene,” but are at least willing to keep the door open to the possibility that their musical tastes can coexist within that scene, the entry point for Goose is the aforementioned studio albums and EPs. Check out “Turned Clouds,” “Arcadia,” “Jive I” and “Jive II” from Moon Cabin, “Butter Rum” and “Wysteria Lane” from Night Lights EP (2020), “SOS” and “Spirit of the Dark Horse” from Shenanigans Nite Club (2021), “Hungersite,” “Dripfield,” “Slow Ready,” “Arrow,” “Hot Tea,” and “Moonrise” from Dripfield (2022), as well as “All I Need” and “Elizabeth” from Undecided EP (2022). You’ll hear a little bit of everything – some blues shuffle (“Elizabeth”), some reggae (“Butter Rum”), some Paul Simon (“Dripfield” and “Moonrise”), some Stevie Wonder (“Hot Tea”) and more.
For everyone else – the fully indoctrinated – it is the live show where Goose really excels. Witness their recent two-night, sold-out stand at Chicago’s newest indoor/outdoor music venue, The Salt Shed. Each night, the packed house pulsated in unison as the fans rode the musical waves in, over, under and around Goose’s full-length jams. Playing just under three hours of music across two sets and an encore each night, Goose delivered the goods, proving their near cult following is not by accident. Mitarotonda, Anspach, Weekz, Atkind and Arevalo are each outstanding musicians in their own right, but become an exceptionally well-oiled machine when dialed in together. It shows in their performances as they consistently avoid the pitfalls of noodling in favor of a focused and cohesive musical journey that never loses sight of a song’s origin or destination.
Both shows are currently available for streaming on nugs.net, the first night of which opened with the aforementioned “All I Need” and some fiery guitar licks by Mitarotonda. Anspach then took over on vocals for “The Whales” and the humorous and ebullient “Earthling or Alien?”. Other highlights of the evening included “Jive I,” “Jive Lee,” and “Thatch,” and the songs bookending set two – “Hungersite” and “Madhuvan”. The evening closed with a cover of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
The second night was just as good, beginning with the opener, “California Magic,” and an early surprise – a cover of Spoon’s “Inside Out.” The show accelerated into overdrive a few songs later with “Lead Up” and “Drive,” as well as second set highlights such as “Animal,” “Pancakes” (a Great Blue cover), “Slow Ready,” and “Dripfield.”
Overall, it was two amazing nights of Goose – a jam band that even the most vocal jam band detractors can get behind if they simply change their perspective and approach the music from a different angle. For more information on Goose, their tour, discography and live records, head to their website here.
All images: © Derek Smith / High Voltage Concert Photography for American Blues Scene