Goose emphatically capped a career year with a three-set New Year’s Eve spectacle, completing a back-to-back at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago, IL in front of 2,500 lucky fans while also providing a free live stream that satisfied at least another 51,000+ at the time of this writing. To that point, this is the first time I’ve written one of these reviews from the other side of the camera, and it’s worth noting right up front that Goose’s ability to pump an A+ product through my screen in real-time absolutely cannot be understated as a major reason for both the band’s rapid growth and its intimate connection with fans.

Taking the show in through carefully selected camera angles that focused alternately on the high energy crowd and each member of the band in turn, not only did the affair translate seamlessly to the big screen but it was so easy to appreciate the individuality of each member’s contributions and personality that so naturally add to a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Rich(k) Mitarotonda, with guitar licks that tickle my central nervous system and an ethereal voice to match, has a positively undeniable “it” factor that was as obvious on my television as in the flesh. Trevor Weekz, the very image of cool with his trademark shades, flowing locks, and economy of motion, similarly unaffected by the camera’s gaze was able to rule my hips with his seductive and patient bass runs. The inimitable Peter Anspach, seasonally clad in a turtleneck and wool tartan pants, comprises much of the band’s on-stage personality as he is always smiling and grooving while exploring the boundaries of the five-piece keyboard setup he calls home on stage left and the pink Fender-strat strung across his back. Rounding out the indie-jam quintet from Wilton, CT is the percussive duo of Ben Atkind and Jeffrey Arevalo, the play-by-play and color guys who narrated Goose’s nationwide broadcast from their respective rear stage beat-boxes.

“Arrow” kicked off the evening’s festivities, twenty-plus straight ahead but fiery minutes that set the tone for the evening’s intensity before an exploratory segment that eventually found its way to “Rosewood Heart”. A typically high energy and celebratory “White Lights” preceded the newish “The Old Man’s Boat”, a song quickly gaining traction in Goose’s catalog. Sometimes with pace, less is more, and a particularly impassioned reading of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” forcefully demonstrated that point (LTP 10/19/19, per Phantasy Tour), somehow celebrating and mourning 2021 simultaneously in one fell swoop as the calendar turned hopefully to a new year and the band approached set break.

Related: 2021 Will You Think About Me? Goose: A Year In Review

Bound to show up somewhere in the evening’s setlist, an almost perfectly timed “2021”—a reworked 20:21 minute version of Vampire Weekend’s 1:43 track from Father Of The Bride—got the second set underway in appropriately tasteful year-end fashion before the always raucous and fan-favorite “Flodown” kicked the rowdiest shindig in town back into high gear. More clever setlisting would ensue as the band covered “One More Saturday Night” with a remarkable two-plus year bustout of the Grateful Dead’s classic. Goose canon “Arcadia” brought the compact middle frame to a close, Peter announcing that the band would be back for a third set, a previously unannounced but fairly unsurprising move.

New Year’s Eve is high stakes, especially in the jam scene, and with the stroke of midnight less than a quarter hour away, questions still remained as to how Goose would approach its first New Year’s eve show since 2017, Goose’s trademark creativity only heightening fans’ anticipation. “Wysteria Lane” would take us most of the way there, the band seemingly unfazed by the passage of time and the rapidly approaching hour. NYE shenanigans were most definitely afoot though when Jon “Coach” Lombardi joined the band with a rainstick in hand, standing on the edge of the stage with the ten-foot behemoth held aloft, very much the image of Rafiki on Pride Rock as the band dropped into an ultra rare reading of “Circle Of Life”, the Lion King classic composed by Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice.

Unique and sexy, this is exactly what I have come to expect from Goose in big moments as the band eschewed tradition (read: “Auld Lang Syne”) and put their own signature on a special moment with a profoundly moving message of hope and love. Played as the first-ever cover during Goose’s first show on September 27th, 2014, “Circle Of Life” is the definitive tale of Goose’s success, having followed the band from nascency to this career-defining moment.

It’s the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
‘Til we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life

As the song neared its end, close friends of the band and significant others made their way to the stage in time, cardboard countdown signs from ten to one reminding the audience of the moment at hand until white balloons and confetti rained down in force, twenty-five hundred strong celebrating the New Year as one.

Jubilation abound and now on the January 1st side of midnight as the confetti settled, Peter finally shed his turtle neck and revealed a love for the Velvet Underground while a room full of balloons continued to bounce around for the duration of “Empress Of Organos”, lyrically bridging the evening’s message of love and hope with the vital helping of resiliency necessary to navigate current times…you say it looks like rain today, but we say, oh, what a day to be livin’. Heard. “Creatures” reminded us all that the moment is the only thing you know before “Your Ocean” and “Seekers On The Ridge Pt 1 & 2” closed the third set, its lyrics hauntingly poignant as the third frame’s second hour welcomed the New Year in the Mountain time zone.

Befittingly, we would learn just before the encore that the aforementioned countdown cards were actually the back of foil posters that would be sold with all proceeds going to help victims of the Boulder, CO wildfires, a somber reminder that things could always be worse while we prayed for our brethren out west. After thanking some key members of the band’s touring crew, a “So Ready” encore, an audible in favor of stricken “Turned Clouds”, kept the crowd grooving hard and ever hopeful as the legendary evening came to a close.

Resiliency has risen to the top of essential life skills early in this decade and it’s equally necessary on both sides of the stage, with Omicron striking New Year’s Eve many performances from the music calendar literally right up until show time. Tangentially related, my last New Year’s Eve show en vivo was at YEMSG in 2019 and guess who I saw there just one night prior? Peter Anspach and John “Coach” Lombardi. I’ll always remember that moment just as I’ll always remember what I said to them, “Live it up in the here and now because there’s no way this isn’t your last New Year’s on the audience side of the stage.” Check and mate.

With its forty-third and fourth shows of the year, congratulations to Goose and their extended team on a banner year. With nearly thirty shows already scheduled from coast to coast in as soon as January 26th, you can find your next best show by heading here for the complete tour schedule.

Goose – The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL – 12/31/21

Setlist: Goose | The Riviera Theatre | Chicago, IL | 12/31/21

Set One: Arrow > Rosewood Heart, White Lights, The Old Man’s Boat, Sleep Walk [1]

Set Two: 2021 [2], Flodown, One More Saturday Night [3] > Arcadia

Set Three: Wysteria Lane > Circle of Life [4] [5] > The Empress Of Organos [5] [6], Creatures [7] > Your Ocean, Seekers On The Ridge pt 1 & pt 2

Encore: So Ready


[1] Santo & Johnny
[2] Vampire Weekend
[3] The Grateful Dead
[4] LTP Goosemas 4, only 3rd time played, this song was played at the bands first show on 9.27.14. As the song ended, the countdown to 2022 began. At the end of the tune the band rang in the new year.
[5] JonL played a 10 foot rain stick
[6] JonL played fish & chimes on Jeffs kit
[7] Axel F Teases


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