On Sunday night, Goose got in on the fiesta at Dead & Company destination event Playing In The Sand in Quintana Roo, Mexico with a two-set headlining show featuring an extended guest appearance by Bob Weir.
To say that Goose entered 2023 as one of the hottest bands in the scene would be the understatement of this young year. The quintet continued its exponential rise in 2022 with a constant string of noteworthy milestones, from an acclaimed new album (Dripfield) and a surprise EP (Undecided) to a co-headlining, commingling tour with Trey Anastasio Band to late-night TV appearances on Kimmel and Fallon to live collaborations with everyone from beloved rapper Big Boi to indie luminary Father John Misty, not to mention guitarist Rick Mitarotonda‘s multiple outings with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. With another banner year lingering fondly but firmly in the rearview mirror, Goose carried its hot streak into 2023 with its first show of the year as part of Dead & Company’s Mexican vacation.
As social media exploded throughout the day with video of Bob Weir and Rick Mitarotonda sharing in one of Bobby’s patented workouts—set to audio of Phish’s “Everything’s Right”, no less–anticipation ran high for what was already shaping up to be a notable moment in both Goose and Grateful Dead history. The workout video ended with a prognosticating look at Rick and Bobby huddled over a computer with acoustic guitars.
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While Goose visited Moon Palace under less auspicious circumstances three years ago, the band’s return to Mexico came as Playing In The Sand’s Sunday main event, providing Mitarotonda, Peter Anspach, Trevor Weekz, Ben Atkind, and Jeff Arevalo the distinct pleasure of playing a sold-out show in front of another band’s most dedicated fans. It would be a tough day for the haters.
Wasting no time at all, Goose ripped into “Hungersite”, a defining track from last year’s Dripfield. “A Western Sun” followed, lyrics of “dreaming big and feeling tall” appropriately acknowledging what life must feel like for the band at this moment in time. As Anspach’s swelling organ urged a Mitarotonda guitar solo on “California Magic”, it was hard not to think of Brent Mydland’s interplay with Jerry Garcia. The Dead & Company crowd seemed to revel in the familiar sound.
Goose – “Hungersite” [Pro-Shot] – 1/15/23
Things were already heating up when Rick took off his sweatshirt before “Rockdale”. As the song wound through a funky Clavinet intro, Weekz employed heavy effects on the low end and Ben Atkind and Jeff Arevalo harnessed a ferocious beat. A beautifully compact “Silver Rising” followed before Goose began to improvise with “Pancakes”, Rick building on Ben’s rhythms as the song started to take off into uncharted waters.
As Peter Anspach introduced Bob Weir to the stage, it became immediately clear why Goose had pulled the ripcord on “Pancakes” after a relatively brief 15 minutes. After so much speculation and anticipation, the moment had finally arrived: Four of five band members cleared the stage as Weir joined Rick front and center, each with an acoustic guitar in hand. Bobby plucked the opening notes of “Peggy-O”, the traditional tune long favored by the Dead. Tender and sweet, it was an acoustic duo for the ages. There wasn’t a dry eye on the sand as Bob and Rick traded verses. An entire beach full of Deadheads sang along, losing their collective minds while the ghosts of Grateful Dead past smiled approvingly over the proceedings. Watch a pro-shot video of the Bob Weir and Rick Mitarotonda (Goose) performing “Peggy-O” below.
Goose (Rick Mitarotonda) w/ Bob Weir – “Peggy-O” [Pro-Shot] – 1/15/23
“That’s what I’m talking about,” remarked Anspach as Weir and Mitarotonda grabbed their electric guitars and the rest of Goose returned to the stage for “Tomorrow Never Knows”, The Beatles’ Revolver classic with setlist experience in both the former Grateful Dead and current Goose repertoires. Interestingly, Goose played this song with Trey Anastasio and Father John Misty last summer at Radio City Music Hall. Tomorrow Never Knows, indeed.
Bobby’s lyrics were on point, his tone was sharp, and “TNK” was the total package—the perfect selection to capitalize on the strengths of all personnel. As the song wound down, Weir began to strum the intro to Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle”, a tune Rick had previously road-tested with Bobby’s old buddy, Phil. Clearly enjoying the ride, Weir even ad-libbed a vocal jam, underscoring his commitment to the moment as he sang, “Sock it to me sock it to me, now, come on give me some.” As Bobby and Rick traded verses and harmonized with goosebump-inducing confidence, those who were worried about Weir’s ability to keep up–tsk, tsk–received a strong dissenting argument. Perhaps it was a little slower than them Goose boys are usually used to, but it was just exactly perfect.
The first set had been the stuff of dreams as Goose added yet another piece of Grateful Dead history to its own still-unfolding saga, and the second set served as the band’s victory lap. Founding father and Goose hype man John “Coach” Lombardi escorted the band back to the stage for a slow and funky “Animal”. A cover of The Band’s “Don’t Do It” followed, Peter doing some delightful work on the keys while Trevor slapped the low end and Rick turned the first set’s slower pace on its head.
“Thatch”, one of the band’s most recent catalog additions (written while on tour with TAB), was ushered in by cover of darkness as lighting director Andrew Goedde dimmed the spotlights and washed the stage in deep blue light. Huge bass bombs rattled the local marine ecology before irresistible guitar riffs gave way to some dirty slap grooves while Peter pounded the keys.
Reliable jam vehicle “This Old Sea” was an obvious choice given the Playing In The Sand setting, and the absolutely gorgeous version that followed left eyes misty in the ocean breeze. Going from tender compassion to white-hot improvisational fire is what makes Goose so special, and this “Old Sea” did just that, providing the first entry on the 2023 “jam of the year” leaderboard.
Shoutouts to the ocean continued as Goedde covered the beach in oranges and blues while the band segued into Ted Tapes favorite “Moby”. The set-closing “Hot Tea” had a distinctively warm-weather, top-down vibe thanks to the notable texture of Jeff Arevalo’s hand drums, not to mention his singing of the song’s horn arrangements. Goose took this party way out to sea, Peter working the clav and organ before Trevor settled into a ridiculous bass solo. The jam briefly turned a dark corner before arriving at its anthemic coda.
Goose has one song in its catalog reserved for the most special of occasions and it’s also, quite conveniently, a song about journeys and sages. After having played “Elmeg The Wise” in the company of Trey Anastasio just two months prior, Goose broke it out again on the night the band shared the stage with Bob Weir. Utilizing a dark synth build, the quintet made its most meaningful song disappear into fire-laden improv on one of the most memorable nights in its history, and its flawless return to form served as a worthy Prestige.
Well I stumbled upon the likes of an ageless man carved into a tree
I placed my hand on the bark and asked if I may walk the unseen
You see I have come here on my own
In search of an honest place to call my home
And on his breath red leaves they flew
Their branches shook the autumn through
The words were spoken silence still
He led me to the standing hill
And it was quiet in that moment steady pull
I heard a voice beneath the quill
Of every doubt that fills my head
In this moment they laid still
Goose has a busy schedule of tour dates already on the docket for 2023. Click here for a full list of upcoming Goose shows. Playing In The Sand continues on Monday and Tuesday with two more nights of Dead & Company. To livestream the remaining two nights via nugs.net, click here.
For a complete list of upcoming Dead & Company The Final Tour 2023 dates, head here. Revisit Live For Live Music‘s full coverage of Playing In The Sand 2023: Night 1 | Night 2 (Goose) | Night 3 | Night 4
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Setlist: Goose | Playing In The Sand | Moon Palace | Quintana Roo, Mexico | 1/14/23
Set 1: Hungersite > A Western Sun, California Magic, Rockdale, Silver Rising, Pancakes, Peggy-O, Tomorrow Never Knows, Hard To Handle
Set 2: Animal, Don’t Do It, Thatch, This Old Sea > Moby, Hot Tea
Encore: Elmeg The Wise
 Grateful Dead. Bob Weir and Rick acoustic duet.
 The Beatles. With Bob Weir on guitar and vocals.
 Otis Redding. With Bob Weir on guitar and vocals.
 The Band.
 With Hollywood Nights jam.
Goose will have plenty of potential guests to choose from when the band headlines both nights of Daze Between New Orleans on May 2nd and 3rd during the “Daze Between” New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival weekends.
The lineup for the 2023 edition of the festival—presented by Live For Live Music, GMP Live, Purple Hat Productions, Dayglo Presents, and Rose Tours—also includes Tank and the Bangas, Lawrence, George Porter Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners, Eggy, David Shaw, Neal Francis, Melt, Honey Island Swamp Band, J & The Causeways, and The Quickening. A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit New Orleans non-profit organizations via Rex Foundation. Find ticketing information via the festival website.