Labeled as “up-and-coming” and “a band on the rise”, Goose hit the fast track to success the moment the final notes of their now-famous set at The Peach Music Festival in mid-2019 set rang out over Montage Mountain. Courted as a supporting act by Dead & Company, Goose rang in 2020 in grandiose fashion, playing a pair of sets at the Grateful Dead spinoff act’s Playing In the Sand destination event in Mexico in January. Bookending the oddest and most difficult year in live music history was Goosemas VII, a live broadcast from a Peter Shapiro-promoted rooftop in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center on Twitch that drew 60,000 viewers and raised over $45,000 for charity. No longer up-and-coming but definitely still on the rise, Goose has arrived.
None but the most ambitious of insiders could have predicted the trajectory of the indie groove act from Wilton, CT, especially given the circumstances of this pandemic-ravaged year. Live From T’s Living Room, a-Goose-tic streams from the Solarium, Bingo Tour, drive-ins and socially distant pod shows, it can easily be argued that no band has worked harder or done more with less in 2020. With brilliant management and creativity for days, Goose turned the worst year on record for the live event industry into their personal showcase, doing the impossible to continue their well-deserved and hard-earned exponential ascent.
Now that 2020 is nearly in the books, let’s look at Goose’s year in review. After the opening run in Mexico with Dead & Co on January 17th and 18th, Goose played two sold-out shows in New York City on January 24th and 25th at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg, respectively—at that point their largest headlining shows to date (with the exception of Goosemas VI, played in front of 1,000 eager fans at the Wall Street Theatre in their home state of CT the previous month).
Goose then migrated west with their alliterative mates Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, opening a slate of thirteen shows in seventeen nights for their avian kin on a tour which began on February 5th in Arizona and made stops in CA, NV, OR and WA. As February turned to March, Goose somehow found the time to squeeze in three shows in three days aboard a Rock Legends Cruise before rejoining PPPP for five more shows in seven nights in the Midwest. Their last pre-pandemic show took place on March 11th in Covington, KY, a city that has showed them unconditional love and unfettered enthusiasm since they were first starting to flap their wings early in their career.
Then, in March, the world changed. Three shows planned for March 12th, 13th, and 14th were canceled as the novel coronavirus outbreak was designated a pandemic and Goose—and the music industry as a whole—was now faced with navigating an unprecedented live event shutdown.
Think back to early March. It was an uncertain time. Fear and uncertainty were spreading as fast as COVID-19. Hugs were the first casualty of the pandemic, elbow taps now the greeting of choice. These were unfamiliar, unforgiving waters with treacherous whitecaps, especially for those in the entertainment industry. I remember seeing The Brothers at MSG on Tuesday March 10th, in a sold-out but half-empty Madison Square Garden, fully aware that this may be the last live show for a stretch. Professional sports leagues, schools, and business shut down one by one over the course of the next week. By Friday March 13th, the live event industry, along with the U.S. economy, had come to a screeching halt.
Goose, however, approached the remainder of 2020 like a chess board, every move perfectly setting up their next play. Just four days after their last show in front of a live audience, Goose played their first livestream concert on March 15th. Putting their humanity on display alongside their musicality, the stream featured cutaways to Mrs. Coach making dinner and faded out on the band around the dining room table enjoying a home-cooked and well-earned post-show meal.
As part of 11E1even Group’s Live From Out There, Goose was one of a handful of bands that pioneered the effort to redefine what live music consumption might look like during a pandemic America, playing two more of these full-band offerings at six day intervals on March 21st and 27th. Even pre-pandemic moves—like the Brooklyn Podcast Festival event that saw Rick Mitarotonda and Peter Anspach team up with roommate Jeffrey Arevalo on upright bass for an acoustic set and conversation with Tom Marshall in late January—seemed calculated, in hindsight, to introduce the now legendary a-Goose-tic streams. These four live sets, spaced roughly three weeks apart from April 5th to May 30th, served to not only showcase a new dimension of Rick and Peter but also to usher in the newest member of the gaggle.
Perhaps the biggest coup in their still-brief history, June’s Bingo Tour was pure theatrical excellence. From sound to lights, camera angles to stills, push-ups to full-band yoga, this was an exercise in creativity, ingenuity, and gumption that brought to bear the full artistic expression of Goose’s incredible team. Playing dynamic setlists chosen at random in real-time by bingo balls, Goose put their next level musicianship on display alongside a signature dose of “not taking yourself too seriously.” 2020 redefined the live music experience out of necessity and nothing underscores that point like Bingo Tour, an in-house production bubble that thrust community building and fan experience to the forefront.
A fifth a-Goose-tic stream in mid-July preceded a nine-week stretch that would be Goose’s longest rest of the year. Goose—now firmly a quintet following Arevalo’s inclusion in Bingo Tour—hit the drive-in circuit. First a pair of shows on September 11th and 12th on Cape Cod, then two socially distant shows “pod” shows at South Farms in Morris, CT on September 16th and September 17th. After performing as a part of the Mango All-Stars tribute stream at Norwalk, CT’s Wall Street Theatre on September 19th, special guest Dave Grippo (Giant Country Horns) joined the band at another drive-in show in Essex, VT on October 2nd. Another trio of drive-ins followed during a five-day span in Thornville, OH, Waynesville, NC, and Frederick, MD on October 15th, 17th, and 19th, respectively. With their production team in full stride, each of these shows was either streamed live or premiered within days alongside band-hosted watch parties on YouTube and Facebook. Goose’s formidable online presence continued to grow, drawing in new fans with every move.
Goose’s final in-person shows of the year were set to take them back to South Farms on October 30th and 31st but winter weather had other plans, delaying the Halloween shows until the following weekend, November 6th and 7th. Aside from the concert art showing the original dates, no one missed a beat as the band played a pair of memorable nights and treated fans to a few of their finest in-person shows of the year, the second of which saw the band in the musical costume of 2001 psychological thriller Donnie Darko as their annual Halloween show.
After an ambitious and successful year that saw Goose push the boundaries of “virtual” live music and play live shows in front of socially distant crowds, the only question that remained was, “How would Goose pull off the seventh edition of their annual holiday show, Goosemas?”
On a Monday afternoon in early December, the answer came in a big way. As Peter Shapiro, the concert promoter, venue owner, and Relix publisher behind untold numbers of “epic” events, said in a statement, “Goose has amazing momentum right now and we are so excited to be working with them on this incredibly special performance at Rockefeller Center—one of the most iconic locations in the world. There isn’t a more epic way to ring in the holidays than with a rock show in the sky.” Goosemas VII was on, live from the sky above New York City.
Set seven stories above Rockefeller Center with St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the background, Goose took to the stage in front of over 60,000 worldwide viewers for their most unique and ambitious show to date. Dressed in matching red ski suits, the band treated fans to a masterful set of originals, covers, and bust-outs that garnered instant show-of-the-year buzz among their faithful gosling.
Watching this band and their crew grow into their success has been the source of untold joy since I first came in contact on Halloween 2019. As their lights have filled bigger and bigger rooms, from Mercury Lounge to Rockefeller Center, I honestly can’t wait to see what Andrew Goedde has in store for historic rooms like The Beacon and The Capitol Theatre. Just as Goedde has become an industry-leading innovator as lighting director (that laser ceiling at South Farms—what?!), Bryan Murphy‘s video productions have raised the bar for both stream production and video editing. For that matter, shoutouts to Danny McDonald and Marta Goedde for constantly upping their games and giving us a year’s worth of up-close-and-personal-looks with their kick-ass camera work, and to Sam Bardani for constantly tweaking their sound to match their growth curve.
I love guessing where Goose is going to play next as much as I love thinking about what ’80s tune may be graced with their overwhelming talent. I love the fact that this quintet, née quartet, is as finely-rehearsed and well-tuned as it is willing to veer off course, take chances, and improvise. The confidence that brims from their amps is nearly as admirable as the humanity and approachability that grounds them and makes us all feel like part of a giant family. Although 2020 is a year that most would love to soon forget, it will also be looked upon with great favor in Goose’s history books.
All told, 37 shows in front of live audiences including Playing in the Sand, a tour opening for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a Rock Legends Cruise, and their own headlining dates in a variety of formats—from bars to music halls to drive-ins and socially distant pod shows. Throw in a Jam in the Van, the BPF event with Tom Marshall featuring the first a-Goose-tic set, 9 full-band livestreams including the unquestionably innovative Bingo Tour, and 5 a-Goose-tic live streams, and I dare you to find a harder-working band in 2020. Having busted their asses with one of the best and most professional teams in the industry behind them, Goose deserves all the accolades and nice things coming their way.
Here’s hoping 2021 features a true return to live music, and here’s to the ever-bigger rooms (theaters? arenas?) that await them when the time comes.
You can catch a Goosemas VII from Rockefeller Center in its entirety below. Proceeds from Goosemas will benefit NIVA’s Save Our Stages, a national charity that provides support to independent live venues and promoters throughout the United States, and Conscious Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to providing meals for communities in need. For more information on how to donate, visit Goosemas.com.
Goose – Goosemas – Rockefeller Center, NYC – Full Show [Streaming 12/19 at 8 p.m. ET]