Excerpted from Goose: 2020 In Review: “Here’s to hoping 2021 that features a true return to live music, and here’s to the ever-bigger rooms (theaters? arenas?) that await Goose when the time comes.” Check, check, and (almost) check.
With just a couple of days and as many shows to go in 2021, Goose is slated to wrap up its second consecutive best year ever at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, IL (12/30, 12/31). Goose will bid adieu to the rollercoaster that was 2021 in front of an estimated 2,500 fans on each of two back-to-back nights in the Windy City.
42 shows. 23 venues. 21 states. Five festivals. Three “Factory Fictions”. Two movies. One album. And Fred. 2021.
Just as 2020 ushered in a global pandemic, 2021 was slated to heed the hero’s call, heralding a long-awaited return to normalcy. Whether or not it happened exactly that way depends less on who you ask and more on how you define normalcy. The early winter months of 2021 were a barren time for live music as mass indoor gatherings were an impossibility due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so creativity continued to rule the day for the live music industry and performance starved musicians.
Of every doubt that fills my head
In this moment they laid still
Live music means a lot of things to a lot of people and never more so than during a global pandemic that spurred people to examine really difficult chapters in their lives, from mental health to addiction and all points in between. I’ve been a part of the Goose community for a while now and I’ve both heard and lived enough personal stories to know that Goose’s sure footing in the music industry is in no small part due to its ability to connect with its broader audience as humans, individuals, and equals, not just filling a void but providing a welcome-with-open-arms community for people to feel loved, wanted, validated, and important.
So even after a live music winter dry spell, the Goose faithful were still soaring from those connections and the lingering high that was Goosemas VII when the first news of 2021 broke from the Goose camp on February 4th: Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koening had commissioned the Wilton, CT indie-jam quintet to rework an exploratory 20:21 version of the 1:38 track “2021”. Goose’s interpretation on the track, titled “2021 (January 5th, to be exact)” swung the focus sharply back to the overwhelming musicality that got this spiritual train rolling in the first place, and it was unsurprisingly met with widespread critical acclaim before finally debuting live during Goose’s 25th show of the year nearly eight months later at Terminal 5 in New York City on October 8th.
Goose – “2021 (January 5th, to be exact)” (Vampire Weekend)
Music—especially that of the live variety—heals weary and injured souls and Suwannee Rising Music Festival arrived none too soon, kicking off the live music calendar for Goose and numerous others with a pod-style festival in the swamps of Live Oak, FL on April 9th at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Creative bookings still ruling the day, May saw Goose embark on a five-show run through Maryland, South Carolina, and Tennessee, with drive-in and pod-style shows, Mother Nature as unrelenting through late spring as science the previous winter.
Shenanigans Nite Club – The Album
To much fanfare, Goose released their sophomore effort, and first with Peter Anspach, Shenanigans Nite Club. In a world where authenticity has been in woefully short supply, Shenanigans Nite Club was refreshing and honest, but it wasn’t easy.
“While we’ve been touring, the record has been happening in the background,” said Rick Mitarotonda in a statement alongside the album’s release. “It’s been quite the process. At times, it was difficult. The record is a companion to those growing pains.”
A testament to longevity, focus, hard work, growth, and friendship, it’s also proof positive that everything happens for a reason. Darkness both follows and precedes light.
Here’s an excerpt from an album review I wrote at the time of release:
I came for the party in the woods, but I stayed because I found a place where my insides match my outsides. The Flodown may have drawn me in, but The Spirit Of The Dark Horse cast its spell. The Universe makes no mistakes, and the emergence of this music and the people it brought into my life are amongst the beautiful offerings that elevated me as I confronted my demons. The human body is an incredible machine, the mind the world’s finest supercomputer. Given our instinctive ability to adapt, getting stuck in The Same Old Shenanigans is almost too easy. Echoing Rick Mitarotonda’s thoughts, “It’s hard to really need to dig, to need to seek when you’re comfortable. Life has a way of driving you to certain places. You’re not going to … start asking questions in a very poignant way until (you) need to.
The first summer tour in two years now a reality, fans and bands alike became less fearful with each passing day as socially distant live music events gave way to intimate camping shows and eventually large scale GA gatherings, culminating with the largest ever Goose shows to date before estimated crowds of 5,000 per night at Sculpture Park in Denver, CO on July 9th and 10th.
As July matured, summer tour turned its attention to the festival circuit, and surely there is no better way for a band to grow its fan base than to plug it in and turn it up in front of thousands of unsuspecting but eager live music fans. Sets at FloydFest, 4848 Festival, and Sea.Hear.Now., brought
droves flocks of new fans, some more notable than others.
— phanTOM™️ (@TomMarshall111) September 19, 2021
Fred is Ted. Ted is Fred.
The growing font kept pace with the ever-expanding gaggle–or is it vice versa?–until Goose grabbed both the top tier and the ultimate headline all at once. Both curating and headlining its own Fred The Festival on LOCKN’s hallowed grounds in Arrington, VA was more than a feather in this band’s cap, it was a wildly successful and necessary first in what hopefully becomes a longstanding tradition of indie-jam curation and proprietary festivals.
Worthy of discussion while Fred Fest is on the mind, the second set and encore from August 22nd don’t get enough love as the set of the year, even after considering my own attendance-biased instant claim that night one at Westville Music Bowl (6/12), just two months earlier, was my personal favorite set of Goose ever. Further investigation of these facts will reveal a decided affinity for and bias in favor of all shows containing the elusive “Factory Fiction”. (Editorial warning: be on the lookout for similar such claims regarding the Mission Ballroom shows.)
The only guest spots of the year would also happen at Fred Fest, with former Goose keyboardist Chris Enright sitting in on “So Ready”, Vasudo keyboardist/vocalist Matt Campbell sitting in on the aforementioned “Factory Fiction”, and Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes joining the band on “This Old Sea” for what was no doubt the tear-jerking ballad of the year.
Fred The Festival also saw the emergence of Goose-adjacent side projects Vasudo, Orebolo, and ElephantProof, each with an overlapping web of band members. The weekend would feature the first performance from Goose predecessor Vasudo since 2013, with guitarist Rick Mitarotonda, Peter Anspach, Trevor Weekz, and Jeffrey Arevalo reconnecting with keyboardist Matt Campbell. Drummer Ben Atkind also brought his side project ElephantProof off the shelf for an invigorating late-night performance in Garcia’s Forest. Other highlights from the weekend also included a daytime “Peter On The Porch” solo acoustic set from Anspach in addition to an Orebolo aGOOSEtic set with Rick, Peter, and Jeff. Let us not forget, of course, Fashøn, an Anspach side-piece that also released a single earlier this year.
Beginning in early October with a pair of sold-out shows at NYC’s Terminal 5—including an unannounced and spontaneous instant three-set classic—fall tour rolled out in stages. Three weeks later Goose returned to the stage in musical costume as Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. The Halloween night spectacular put the finishing touches on a quick four-show run through the Northeast with stops at State Theatre in Portland, ME (10/28, 10/29) and Palladium in Worcester, MA (10/30, 10/31).
Just five days hence, Goose hit the road for twelve shows in sixteen nights, alighting in Atlanta with visits to New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Aspen, and Denver in what was no doubt the most prolific and remarkable run of shows in this band’s young history. With crowds ranging from the hundreds to the thousands in venues spanning the gamut from indoor to outdoor and historical to ultra-modern chic, this tour underscored the axiom “every show is the best show since the last show until the next show.”
Those words rang true when I coined them in Frederick, MD for the second (5/3) and third (5/4) shows of the year and for every show since, but have never been more resonant than this last tour which ended with Goose playing what is perhaps the finest pair of shows in their history in front of roughly 4,000 fans a night in Denver’s music shrine, the Mission Ballroom. (Fans of Legend Valley as shows of the year please register your complaints here.)
Also, the best Goose show—or any show for that matter—is the one you’re at with your people, and that is neither up for debate nor discussion, but it’s what makes these spirited discussions so fun.
Embarking on its first-ever headlining tour, Orebolo hit the road in early December, debuting new songs and delighting fans with stripped-down versions of old favorites with a trio of shows in Tarrytown, NY, Homer, NY, and Stowe, VT. These were special and intimate shows that only served to underscore the spiritual connection bridging the musicians with their audience. Just before Goose heads out on its 2022 West Coast tour, Orebolo will scoot out to Colorado for three nights in The Centennial State, including its first-ever two-night run in Steamboat Springs.
Goose Made A Movie? Goose Made A Movie (Again)
More than just a documentary on Fred Fest—yep, that happened, too—Goose unveiled Shenanigans Nite Club: The Movie, a full feature film directed by Will Thresher that was released as a companion piece to its eponymous album. Regardless of your thoughts on the film itself, can we just stop for a second to applaud the creativity and the gumption that brought an idea like this to fruition? Starring themselves, their significant others, and their best friends, the members of Goose actually made a movie and it is fast achieving cult status among its faithful and adoring flock.
The most significant event in the history of Wilton, CT, or at least for a couple of dudes with a dream from Wilton High School, was set to take place on December 18th with Goosemas VIII, scheduled to be held in front of nearly 10,000 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Goosemas began eight years ago with a party in the basement of Factory Underground, a Norwalk, CT music studio. By 2019, the celebration had grown big enough to find a home at the roughly 1,000-cap Wall Street Theater before the pandemic forced Goose’s creative hand to live stream 2020’s iteration from a Rockefeller Center rooftop in New York City. COVID took another stab at Goosemas in 2021, this time forcing a postponement of the celebration to February 26th of this rapidly approaching year.
Happy New Year
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. As Omicron continues to strike New Year’s Eve plans from the music calendar, Goose has maintained its scheduled shows at Riviera Theatre on December 30th and 31st, as well as accompanying webcasts of the festivities.
The community that has grown around Goose is a spectacular and special place, full of spectacular and special people. Goose’s fans deserve a nod of recognition, from El Göose and its 16.9K members strong to the rail fam, the Noah Ray Fan Club, and everyone else in between who shares in the love of this band, whether online, in real life, or some combination of the two. We look out for each other and we build each other up; we find our collective Rockdale and we lay it all down because we got one life to live for and the sun will be rising soon.
2021, will you think about us?
As we turn the calendar page to a new year, consider all the artisans, photographers, writers, and everyone else who does their level best to contribute to this scene, many of whom ply their trade for nothing more than the love of the game itself. Look no further than the team at The el Goose Times for a dazzling display of community, teamwork, productivity, love, and service. Also deserving of recognition is Goose’s touring crew that is its–and all of our–extended family. Goose’s ability to command an ever-growing crowd and stage (Mohegan Sun Arena, we’re still coming for ya, just a little later than planned!) is as much due to its musicality and songwriting as it is a credit to the production team that it has grown and nurtured in-house.
Shoutouts to Sam Bardani, Andrew Goedde, Marta Goedde, Sam King, Jon Lombardi, Danny MacDonald, Bryan Murphy, and Naveed Quarterman, as well as Greg Knight (rapper of the year narrowly edging Dr. Evil), Ethan Berlin and Karl Morse with Arrival Artists Booking Agency, and Dave DiCianni, Ben Baruch, and Matt Kolinski with 11E1even Management Group.
To our feathered friends in Goose: Peter Anspach, Jeffery Arevalo, Ben Atkind, Rick Mitarotonda, and Trevor Weekz, we feel all of your love with every note. Always forward.
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. Or something like that.