Halloween is the musical holiday of the year, with bands from coast to coast upholding long-standing tradition by donning musical costumes and bringing their level best in terms of both creativity and musicality. With choices galore and countless friends exercising their options far and wide, at the end of the day we vote with our presence. After being confronted with some of the toughest choices I can remember, I can unabashedly say that Goose is my Halloween tradition and I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Goose quickly outgrew the smaller pond that was home to my first show two years ago, a Halloween celebration at New York City’s 250-capacity Mercury Lounge, growing more than tenfold to the 2,600-capacity Palladium in Worcester, MA. A journey of deeply significant growth during that time that even saw the addition of a new band member, Goose was primed to play the show of their lives up against the pressure of rising expectations in front of an ever-expanding gaggle of devoted fans.

First to greet the audience was Austin Powers himself (Peter Anspach, keyboards/guitar) and the crowd responded in kind with roaring screams and applause. “Yeah, baby. This is gonna be a smashing evening baby. Splendid, out of control, groovy,” said The Spy Who Shagged Me as the band dropped into Quincy Jones’ “Soul Bossa Nova”, the popular instrumental adopted as the theme song for the goofy 1990s satire franchise. The evening’s musical costume would persist with a cover of Tommy James’ “Dragging The Line”, a song also covered by R.E.M. for the 1999 hit sequel Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

“Earthling or Alien?” followed in all its funky glory, gimmick-free on this night apart from the “Take it, Dr. Evil” (Rick Mitarotonda, guitar) comment from the lovable Mr. Powers that prompted a soaring guitar solo. Powers’ remarks aside, Mustafa (Trevor Weekz, bass) would establish early footing as the night’s front runner for band MVP, slapping his five-string early and often while rhythm partner Mini-Me (Ben Atkind, drums) provided the engine powering Dr. Evil’s phallic rocket ship

It was Dr. Evil’s turn to drop into character, asking Jeffrey Arevalo, drums/percussion, “Ready, Scott?”, the snarky teenaged percussionist replied in character, “You’re such an ass.,” before taking lead vocals on The Who’s “My Generation”, a hard-rocking classic that would wind its way into some delightfully ambient off-script grooves.

“Western Sun”, a forever favorite among the list of tear-jerking Goose ballads, followed in all its glory before the band returned to character for a first-ever playing of The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer” that had the crowd going wild. The band would revisit “Earthling Or Alien?” before closing the set with their proprietary dance anthem “So Ready”.

As far as the “So Ready” vs. “Slow Ready” debate raging regularly among Goose devotees, I’ve been firmly in the Slow camp for some time, perhaps having been swayed back last night though that could be recency bias rearing its ugly head (see Portland’s set-closing “Slow Ready” from 10/28/21 for a most recent comparison). This would also mark the first potential repeat of this four-day run, kind of the same song though technically not as it’s both titled and regarded differently.

The second set began before the band could be seen on stage, Peter Anspach testing the limits of his newish wireless guitar setup by starting the song behind the curtain and walking out while strumming the set-opening riff. Mr. Powers’ cast would follow shortly behind, Mini-Me first to follow on the drums before Scott would take his second vocal lead of the night on the band’s debut of The Guess Who’s “American Woman”, an absolutely searing rocker that saw the movie’s lead character jump from his Hammond amp in classic rock star fashion.

Compositional masterpiece “The Labyrinth” was played for just the third time ever after being released earlier this year on Shenanigan’s Nite Club, Andrew Goedde’s lights taking the crowd for a wild ride as the band navigated the passages of the song’s complex third and fourth jams. An impossibly smooth transition led the way into “Magic Carpet Ride”, lead guitarist Mitarotonda putting his unique signature on the timeless Steppenwolf classic.

“Into The Myst” was next, minutes passing in a spiraling sonic haze accompanied by the visual swirl of Goedde’s yellow spotlights as the band chased a second jam that will easily distinguish this 2021 All Hallow’s Eve version from its brethren in the live Goose archives. Another notable transition kept energy high as the band found its footing in Devo’s “Whip It”, another band first in homage to the evening’s costume. “Seekers On The Ridge pt. 2” followed, completing the “Seekers pt. 1” played the previous night, the first time these *two* songs would ever be separated, and with great impact might I add.

Goose paid tribute to the late Bill Withers with a take on “Just The Two Of Us”, putting a decidedly modern spin on the funk classic. Dr. Evil’s rap and Richk’s guitar leads, accompanied by the keyboard sounds from Mr. Powers himself that admirably approximated the sound of Grover Washington Jr.’s alto-saxophone along with the steady slap of Mustafa’s five-string bass mark this as one worthy of revisiting time and again.

“Hot Tea” was the obvious choice to close this show, fans both recognizing and rejoicing in real time the instant classic that was Halloween 2021: The Spy Who Shagged Me, as the band explored the sonic landscape of what felt like a live video game before exploding in a Boston Tea Party for time eternal.

After a short encore break, the band returned with their first repeat of the weekend, “All I Need”, though this fast, original version was markedly different from the slow and melodic opening night version that began the run in Portland on 10/28. (Note: this version hasn’t been played since 12/7/19 in Boulder, CO and perhaps someone smarter than me should think of an alternate tag to distinguish these on future setlists a la the Slow vs. So Ready, another quasi-but-not-quite repeat from this mini four-show run).

As crowds grow, so, too, do expectations, and Goose’s exponential rise is due in no small part to their ability to both meet and obliterate them every single night. Every show is the best show since the last show, until the next show. Check out a list of Goose’s next best shows here. The band next heads south for a pair of sold-out nights this upcoming weekend in Atlanta, GA on November 6 and 7.

Goose – The Palladium – Worcester, MA – 10/31/21 – Full Show

Setlist: Goose | The Palladium | Worcester, MA | 10/31/21

Set One: Soul Bossa Nova {1}, Draggin’ The Line {2}, Earthling or Alien? {3}, My Generation {4} > A Western Sun, I’m A Believer {5} > Earthling Or Alien? > So Ready

Set Two: American Woman {6}, The Labyrinth > Magic Carpet Ride {7}, Into The Myst > Whip It {8}, Seekers On The Ridge pt. 2 {9}, Just The Two Of Us {10}, Hot Tea

Encore: All I Need {11}

Coach’s Notes:
{1} Quincy Jones, LTP 7.12.18
{2} Tommy James, FTP
{3} Dini asked the crowd if they were
Earthling or Alien
{4} The Who
{5} The Monkees, FTP
{6} The Guess Who, FTP, Dini started the song from off stage
{7} Steppenwolf, FTP
{9} This was the first time Seekers On The Ridge has been split up.
{10} Grover Washington Jr & Bill Withers, FTP, Rick did the Dr. Evil rap
{11} Fast & original version of AIN, LTP 12.7.19 Boulder CO, Fox Theater
Netflix & Chill Theme • Austin Powers 2 ‘The Spy Who Shagged Me’
Rick – Dr. Evil; Handini – Austin Powers; Tweekz – Mustafa; Spuds – Mini-Me; Name – Scott
Jon L – Frau Farbissina; Naveed – Unibrow