When a band announces a free live stream just hours before a show, it’s a pretty good indication that some shit’s about to go down. Such was the case again on Saturday as Goose put the finishing touches on leg one of their 2022 winter tour at Stage AE in Pittsburgh, PA. Arguably the only thing better than being one of 19k Goose fans to stream at home was being one of the 2,400 in the room where it happened. Following up a Friday night heater in Louisville, this tour proved nightly that every show is the best show since the last show until the next show, and damn if it doesn’t feel good to say that again.

It’s good to be a live music fan in the 21st century and Goose utilizes technology to share their product with the best of them. From opening to closing credits, from the live mixing of the sound to the HD picture and countless camera angles brought to life on your screen, the production is nothing short of perfection. You can read the setlist just as you can watch the show; there’s a story there for sure. But consider what it must have felt like to be under the swirling lights, bathed in the perfectly dialed sound, and sharing a state-of-the-art room bouncing with both sonic and interpersonal vibration, and you can start to imagine what it felt like to be there.

Opening with muted color palettes and ponderous lyrics, lead guitarist Rick Mitarotonda puts his best-in-jam-band-class voice and soul-stirring guitar licks on display early with just the third ever reading of  “Silver Rising”, a song that debuted just over a week before and has already emerged as one of the heavier tunes in the rapidly growing catalog.

A pop of color from Goedde Sound & Light ushered in the bouncier island vibes of “Butter Rum” as the band would start to explore a thematic uptempo groove that would weave in and out of their improvisational space all night, subsequently labeled as “Pittsburgh jam” for clarity’s sake. Building on a theme developed in the tour’s prior 11 shows through the Pacific Northwest and Midwest regions, there’s an element of sonic consistency that’ll brand winter tour ‘22 forevermore.

A sexy downbeat intro marked the start of  “Turned Clouds”, heavy lyrics contrasting with musical cheer as the band deftly guided the crowd from end to end of the emotional rainbow behind the play of Peter Anspach on the Hammond B3 organ.

Already a buzz-worthy Twitter fan favorite with its catchy lyrics and three-part harmonies, “Redbird” would follow. Without reading too much into the following other than its intended compliment to both parties, the majesty of Rick’s voice, even on backing harmonies behind a Peter-led vocal, is reminiscent of Jerry Garcia harmonizing a Bob Weir tune.

Goose would take the jam deep–well past the 20-minute mark–as Peter led the band through a dark space that would eventually return to the “Pittsburgh jam”. Trevor Weekz and Ben Atkind, bass and drums respectively, were out front again as they were for most of the night, a full-on rhythmic assault that penetrated from a full 360 degrees. Goose debuted seven songs on the first seven nights of this tour, and if they continue adding to their bottom line with songs like this and improvisational themes like that, then either get on board or get out of the way because there’s no stopping this train. “Tumble” closed the exploratory five-song set in kind, again revisiting the “Pittsburgh” theme as fans went whirling into setbreak.

Goose returned with “Rockdale”, yet another recent song (FTP 10/30/21) that has quickly risen to revered status amongst the Goose faithful after being transferred over from the Vasudo catalog. Basslines rumbling with deliberate intent as latent energy came immediately to life, Peter explored first his Hammond B3 and then his clavinet before Rick’s soaring peaks brought the room’s energy to a fever pitch. But as Goose matures, so, too, does their ability to patiently control tempo and use silence. Sometimes less is more and the room holds its collective breath in dead silence as the song nears its conclusion with stunning three-part harmonies.

“Seekers On The Ridge Pt. 1 & 2” would follow, the band continuing to color patient valleys with explosive peaks as Rick continued to blow minds and hearts with every single lick. Perhaps it’s just the way he holds his guitar or maybe it’s just how his fingers play the strings that make him instantly recognizable from his peers, but only the great ones have it and there’s immediately something unique and special in Rick’s guitar tone and it’s more than just his pedalboard. “Seekers Pt. 2” is a song to behold that demonstrates this fact specifically well.

In addition to flourishes of color that complete Goose’s fullness of sound, percussionist Jeffrey Arevalo is so much more than devilish good looks. Taking a rare lead vocal as the band tore through an incendiary cover of The Guess Who’s “American Woman”, Jeff was out front even as the newly re-mustachioed multi-instrumentalist Peter Anspach worked his wireless Fender Strat and channeled his best Eddie Vedder with a jump from his Leslie amp that sent the crowd into a tizzy. For those who steadfastly shove Goose into a jam band box, notice is officially served that the Connecticut quintet can shred good old-fashioned rock and roll with the best of them.

“Empress Of Organos” was next, 20 more minutes of bird band perfection that started with Trevor selling sex on his five-string in the song’s early stages before the jam’s latter half returned back to the familiar space now affectionately known (at least to me) as “Pittsburgh jam”. There’s really no brighter song in the catalog and it’s impossible not to be enveloped in good vibrations as a densely packed room belts the hopeful refrain from the top of their lungs:

You say it looks like rain today, but we say, oh, what a day to be livin!

“Slow Ready” would put the finishing touches on another flawless five-song set, Goedde’s flashing lights over the pulsing crowd reminiscent of celebratory fireworks over a rapidly swelling ocean. Full-on celebration mode ensued as Goose would shortly return for a raucous cover of “Praise You”.

Besides the usual euphoria that accompanies this Fatboy Slim classic, the band kept an uptempo backbeat as Peter Anspach—fittingly given the song’s title—took occasion to recognize the crew that is the heartbeat of Goose’s success as the band publicly validated the contributions of their touring team: Danny MacDonald, Sam King, Marta Goedde, Naveed Quarterman, Jon “Coach” Lombardi, Sam Bardani, and Andrew Goedde, along with tour drivers Dave and Mike The Narc. Goose is very much a family affair, a promote-and-hire-from-within type of organization, and this crew is every bit as invested and responsible for the band’s success as the five musicians on stage. Whether you consume this product on your couch or en vivo, it’s impossible not to appreciate the fullness of Goose’s production and you have these people to thank.

Subjectively, the best song, show, whatever, is the one you get to experience live and share with your people. That being said, every show is the best show since the last show until the next show, and Goose’s next best show is their largest and most anticipated to date. Goose tour resumes with Goosemas VIII, Goose’s long-standing holiday show that was rescheduled from December 18th due to Covid and will take place at Mohegan Sun Arena in front of nearly 10,000 fans on February 26th. My feeble imagination is no match for Goose’s creativity, so as the band approaches its first-ever arena show–and a hometown three-set affair taboot—prepare only to expect the unexpected. Check out their full touring schedule and find your next best show here.

Goose – Stage AE – Pittsburgh, PA – 2/12/22

Setlist: Goose | Stage AE | Pittsburgh, PA | 2/12/22

Set One (8:34 – 9:48): Silver Rising, Butter Rum, Turned Clouds, Red Bird, Tumble

Set Two (10:12 – 11:17): Rockdale, Seekers On The Ridge Pt. 1 > Pt. 2, American Woman (The Guess Who), Empress Of Organos, Slow Ready

Encore (11:20 – 11:30): Praise You (Fatboy Slim) [2]

[1] Jeff dedicated to Ryan Storm

[2] Peter recognized the band’s crew