Oh Colorado, breathe it in… On Thursday night, Goose made its debut at Morrison, CO’s storied Red Rocks Amphitheatre in front of a sold-out crowd. The Centennial State has been a home away from home for the Connecticut-bred indie-groove quintet, and the band met the moment at Colorado’s live music Mecca with what was perhaps the definitive performance of its burgeoning career. The show also marked Goose’s largest headlining show to date, and Rick MitarotondaTrevor WeekzPeter Anspach, Ben Atkind, and Jeff Arevalo seemed keenly aware of the night’s significance as they performed for throngs of friends, family, and fans who had traveled in from around the country.

In 2021, Red Rocks hosted more concertgoers than any venue of any size anywhere in the world. A wonder of both nature and man’s ability to manipulate it, there’s nothing to say about Red Rocks that hasn’t already been said over its 81-year history. Nearly every major name in rock and roll history has played here–from The Beatles to Red Rocks sellout heavyweight champs Widespread Panic–and when a fresh young band or artist rises to the venue’s hallowed stage for the first time, it marks a significant day in their developing history. It was my first time, too, and this article, colored with recency bias and general awe, is for those longing to remember and celebrate their first time. We all know there’s nothing like it.

With a seating area for 9,525 fans arrayed in double-wide rows stacked seventy high from bottom to top, this bucket list music venue boasts massive red rocks and outcrops angled outwards and upwards in every direction with the Denver skyline hovering in the distance. Something of a pilgrimage for diehard music fans, Red Rocks is a little intimidating for newcomers due to its natural majesty and steep elevation, the top row sitting 6,450 feet above sea level. From my spot twenty-five rows back and dead center, I felt like I had the best seat in the house. I’d be willing to bet that no matter where amongst Red Rock’s stone bleachers they were sitting, most patrons felt the same way.

Years of childhood dreams and months of anticipation came to a head when the band finally took the stage, Peter summing up the emotion of the event in no uncertain terms: “Are you freaking kidding me right now? This is insane, dude! Are you ready to have the best night of your lives???”

Just before last night’s show, I would have told you that Goose’s previous show at Dillon Amphitheater was the best night of my life, but every show is the best show since the last show until the next show, and I was open to the possibility that that could change. Plus, Peter warned me.

With a number of statement shows already to their credit this summer (see: Radio City Music Hall), this one felt categorically different right from the first notes of “Hungersite”, the second track off of the band’s recent Dripfield album. The sound was crisp, loud, and as sweet as anything I’ve ever heard when Rick Mitarotonda unleashed his first guitar solo with one-of-a-kind tone, stepping boldly to the center of the stage and baring every ounce of his soul. Strong, confident, and decisive, it felt like a coming out party of sorts, even for a musician already tasting a certain level fame. Last night, Rick separated himself from the pack.

It’s almost time and I know
That the wolf will be set free
So run my love
I’m not the man I was
There’s a killer inside of me

A seemingly autobiographical tale of Rick’s journey to this precise time and place, “Silver Rising” delivered hand over fist with tender vocals and gorgeous, three-part harmonies before a vocal beat drop ushered in the rising heat that would stick around for the remainder of the set. With “Tumble” in the three-spot representing the first repeat in five nights of tour, Goose indicated that on this most special of nights, nothing in the catalog was off limits. Anspach tested the limits on his wireless Fender Strat and engaged the crowd early on before the band settled in to find peak after white-light peak as they colored outside the lines with their signature live improvisation.

“Seekers On The Ridge Pt. 1”, ostensibly written with this exact moment, moved nearly ten thousand sets of arms skyward with the lyrics, “Oh Colorado, breathe it in.” This searching song provides historical context for a lifetime journey—”through all hell, I’ll find that beast again—while “Seekers On The Ridge Pt. 2” confirmed that the beast has indeed been found and, perhaps more significantly, set free. The crowd danced with reckless abandon for the “Animal” that followed before Goose closed the set with “Arcadia”, arguably the song that contributed the most to getting them here.

Comments like “That was the best set I’ve ever seen,” and “That version of (fill in the blank) was the G.O.A.T.” floated through the mountain air during intermission. Goose even managed to keep the energy high during the break when the band used a pre-recorded video to announce that for the first time ever, 2022’s Goosemas spectacular would be held outside the band’s home state of Connecticut —at 1stBANK Arena in Broomfield, CO, not far from Red Rocks.

“You better buy some Goosemas tickets because Jeff is dressed as an elf,” said Rick as percussionist Jeffrey Arevalo followed closely behind in a Buddy The Elf costume—green suit with knee high socks and a pointy hat—as the band returned to the stage for the second set.

Weeks continued to assert himself as a focal point, this time with a thundering bass rattle to accompany the Ben Atkind beats on quintessential Goose song “Arrow”. At twenty-four minutes in length, the evening’s longest song provided ample evidence of both Goose’s propensity for improvisation and Mitarotonda’s boundless talent, two key factors that draw fans in on a nightly basis. Also worthy of mention is the work of Arevalo, whose hand drums sounded more vital than they have in recent memory throughout the night. After countless cresting waves, this wound up as yet another version that will stand up tall in any “best-of” conversation.

Staying true to their indie roots, Goose then dropped into a debut cover of The National’s “Bloodbuzz Ohio” followed immediately by “Fish In The Sea”, a funky fan-favorite cover by the seven-piece, genre-bending group Fat Freddy’s Drop. On a night where every song was the best song, “Red Bird” followed suit as Goose lighting director Andrew Goedde washed the amphitheater in dark reds and purples. Along with sound technician Sam Bardani, these front-of-house partners also deserve recognition for putting forth professional bests on the most important night of their respective careers.

The evening’s second debut cover follow with Moniker’s “Skux Life” before the band dug into the equally ferocious and tender “Slow Ready”, a sky full of glow sticks raining down from the audience. With just the second repeat of the first five shows of tour, Goose closed the main set with “The Empress Of Organos”:

We know you think that you’re powerful, but we’ve got the love and rhythm,
You say it looks like rain today, but we say, Oh, what a day to be livin.

Nowhere was the excitement of the day more palpable than on the face of Jon “Coach” Lombardi, Goose’s founding father, who escorted the band back to the stage for the encore with arm waving delight, he alone knowing what most fans only suspected: that Goose would now serve up the single most elusive song in its catalog, “Elmeg The Wise”. Saved for the most special of occasions, the phrase “if not now, when?” comes to mind as no other song could have adequately risen to the moment like this one did.

Goose swung for the fences and connected at Red Rocks, holding nothing back throughout a night of fan-favorites and rarities that ran the gamut from the early days to the present moment. The emotional release was both cathartic and spiritual, nature doing its best to illuminate the memory of a monumental night with an orange crescent moon. Remember, Peter warned us right up front that we were in for the best night of our lives, and Goose made good on his promise. August 18th, 2022, Red Rocks, Morrison, CO, is the current pinnacle of Goose’s still developing history. Definitive and significant, this one will live forever. Scroll down to view photos and a selection of videos from the performance.

Goose tour continues Saturday at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas, further upcoming tour information can be found here.

Setlist [via elgoose.net]: Goose | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 8/18/22

Set One: Hungersite > Silver Rising, Tumble, Seekers On The Ridge Pt. 1 > Seekers On The Ridge Pt. 2, Animal, Arcadia

Set Two: Arrow[1] -> Bloodbuzz Ohio[2] > Fish In The Sea[3], Red Bird > Milestone 2 (Skux Life)[4], Slow Ready, The Empress Of Organos

Encore: Elmeg The Wise

Coach’s Notes:
[1] Unfinished.
[2] FTP, The National.
[3] Fat Freddy’s Drop.
[4] FTP, Moniker.

Goose – “Bloodbuzz Ohio” (The National) [Pro-Shot] – 8/18/22

[Video: Goose]

Goose – “Hungersite” [Pro-Shot] – 8/18/22

[Video: nugsnet]

Goose – “Fish In The Sea” (Fat Freddy’s Drop) – 8/18/22

[Video: SoundSpliff]

Goose – “Elmeg The Wise” – 8/18/22

[Video: drbobzero]


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