With Saturday night’s instant classic already filed in the history books, those lucky enough to return for night two settled in for the #NeverMissASundayShow edition of what was sure to be a victory lap around the Westville Music Bowl. Steering clear of hyperbole (and hashmarked cliches) are Rules 1 and 1a when writing show reviews, but if you should ever meet my mom or wife, they’ll be the first to tell you I never met a rule I couldn’t bend. So here’s my truth: every show is the best show because every show is the best show–isn’t that why we keep coming back? The historians and the analysts can sort it all out later, but I live these shows (and these words) with every ounce of my heart and soul and I leave it all out here on the paper just like I leave it all out there on the dance floor. The band called Goose from Norwalk, CT is at the center of an impossibly magical synergy with an ever-increasing number of their fans, and the feels that permeate this community are as much a part of the music as the music itself. So buckle up because the backend of Goose’s homecoming was yet another one of *those* nights.
When Rick Mitarotonda, Peter Anspach, Trevor Weekz, Ben Atkind, and Jeffrey Arevalo took the stage dressed in their 70s porn best as alter egos “Frankie Bosco”, “Franz Petit Lupen”, “Terry Alfredo”, “Kevin”, and “Lloyd 2.0”, respectively, it was immediately clear that Shenanigans were underfoot. No surprise at all then that the live debut of “Shenanigans Jam” opened the show, Goose’s original theme song to their own in-house production of the trailer for Shenanigans Nite Club that quickly morphed the spacious pod-seated venue into the most civilized, unified, and funkified Boogie Night club of all. (If anyone who controls such things happens to be listening, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d be willing to pay twice as much to see half as many undersold shows with this much space to groove.)
A stellar and appropriate “All I Need” followed, its lyrics so perfectly describing the scene playing out not just around the Westville Music Bowl but around the Goose scene on a much broader scale. Though its sentiment describes grasping for something just out of reach, there is an undertone of realization that makes the seeking seem past tense, or at least it certainly felt that way last night as one giant collective coalesced and moved as one like twigs in a bonfire, musical notes feeding the communal spirit as oxygen to a flame.
All I need is coming, though it’s not here quite yet …
I’d like to be closer to me, or who I think I want to be
Things change but you don’t realize, you have all you need
The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu text that Mahatma Gandhi referred to as his spiritual dictionary. Its words laid bare in “Indian River”, there is no wonder that this tear-inducing ballad speaks directly to my heart just as the love of this community speaks directly to my soul. This is one of the gems of the Goose catalog in which Rich Mitarotonda’s songwriting was clearly guided by a higher spirit—whatever that means to you—and I can’t encourage you enough to dig into it and find your own meaning or, better yet, let its meaning find you.
The Anspach-penned “Time To Flee” followed, going the distance and then some before finding the depths of “Your Ocean”. Social distance continued to ensure that the evening’s rager (words to avoid; Rule 2b) carried on with civility, a necessary evil for the ensuing madness that would complete the first half of the victory lap. So, Slow, reprise, yam, or jam, “So Ready” is why we Goose. If ya know, ya know. If ya don’t, make it your business to find out.
The capacity crowd, including the band and crew, earned every minute of the short respite that was set break and if the lackadaisical cheers that greeted the band’s return to the stage may not have been enough for Jon “Coach” Lombardi—”Sunday show, New Haven, I can’t hear you!”—then the euphoric dancing that accompanied the soaring “Arrow” surely made up for it.
A life-affirming cover of the Moody Blues classic “Nights In White Satin” followed, a set opening one-two punch that may have been familiar to attendees of Goose’s 1/25/20 show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. I was at that show when this song debuted and although it’s *just* a cover, there is no better song to define the growth on stage or in production that has fueled this band’s trajectory, nor the arena rock future that awaits with increasing certainty. It was nothing short of complete catharsis. I think I can speak for the whole venue when I say we wore the full emotional, spiritual, and even physical weight of these time-honored lyrics:
And I love you
Yes I love you
Oh, how I love you
This would be the spot in the setlist where a lesser band might mail one in by way of hiding a song in the setlist in the impossible spot that follows one of the heaviest hitters in classic rock history. Not Goose. “Rosewood Heart”, perhaps the lyrical sequel to “Nights In White Satin”, delivered time and again, melting me with its main structure before obliterating me with a monster second jam. The unmistakable tone of Peter’s newest toy, an Orange Vintage Vibe Piano 73, ushered in a third jam that really took “Rosewood” to uncharted territory.
Rick and Peter always steal the show, not only because they sing 99.44% of the vocals, but more so because they are the show, but the rhythm section is Goose’s literal heartbeat. So while Rick may get all the looks with his sexy ass guitar and Peter with his cute-ass smile and ever-expanding corner of the stage, Ben Atkind (drums) and Trevor Weekz (bass) are what make this band go. While they dictate the time and tempo that created the space for Goose to perfect its tension and release game, Jeff Arevalo’s overt subtlety and ever-present gong game add a textural element that really brings the sound full circle. Goose flies to the beat of the rhythm, and if you ever get the chance to take in Trevor’s low-end thunder straight from the tap, rest assured there is no finer spot in the house than under T’s hazy gaze.
“Bob Don” followed, a new favorite after having seen an all-time version while dancing in six inches of muddy gravel in Frederick, MD, reminding me of the undying gratitude for both the Westville Music Bowl’s lush turf that hosted hundreds of bare feet and for Mother’s Nature decision to keep it dry.
“SOS”, a Vasudo original formerly known as “Same Old Shenanigans”, was returned to Goose’s live rotation for just the fourth time ever and first since 1/31/19. As prophesied by track order on Shenanigans Nite Club, it preceded the first-ever playing of “(dawn)”, an emotional and complex song that both Peter and Rick identified as their personal favorites in a recent interview. It’s always a source of great curiosity to see how studio debuts will play in the live setting for an improvisational jam band—albeit one who bends genres at will—and there was nothing but elation on both sides of the stage for what turned out to be a highly danceable and stirring debut that closed the show proper.
Returning after the briefest of breaks and with plenty of time on the clock, Goose ripped a cover of Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” in which Peter fully flexed his chops on his pink Fender Strat before the reggae-induced vibes of “Butter Rum” took us to the tropics for a sweet ending. Still reeling from Peter’s earlier display, Richk called out “Franz Petit Lupen” for one more trip to Shredsville before this night was in the books.
There is a euphoric high that lingers after weekends like this where music plus community equals love. Good people on both sides of the stage, brought together by musical notes in search of a higher state of being. A live Goose show is as authentic as it gets, and though it appears to have started on stage or with a guitar, this was born of the heart. Surprise … another best show ever. I don’t rank ‘em, I just collect ‘em and come here to tell the stories.
Love you all … see ya at the next best show.
Scroll down to see a gallery of images from Goose at Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, CT on Sunday, courtesy of photographer Charlie Francis. Full-show audio of the concert is available thanks to taper Zman.
Goose – Westville Music Bowl – New Haven, CT – 6/13/21
Setlist: Goose | Westville Music Bowl | New Haven, CT | 6/13/21
Set One: Shenanigans Jam  > All I Need > Indian River > Time To Flee > Your Ocean, So Ready
Set Two: Arrow > Nights In White Satin (Moody Blues), Rosewood Heart > Bob Don > SOS > (dawn) 
Encore: Mustang Sally > Butter Rum