American Jam-band Goose took to the stage at Camden’s Electric Ballroom for the final two shows of their debut European tour on November 19th and 20th. Goose is a jam-band, meaning two shows are never the same. Setlists vary every night and they improvise over the song for extended periods of time, sometimes even abandoning any original structure to forge new, spontaneous sonic landscapes.
For this musical high-wire act to work the five members of Goose (Rick Mitaratonda [Vocals, Guitar and primary songwriter], Peter Anspach [vocals, keys, guitar and songwriter], Trevor Weekz [bass], Ben Atkind [drums] and Jerry Arevalo [vocals, percussion, drums)] can’t be satisfied with being just world-class musicians, they must also be in-tune with one another on a level above the music – which they are, perhaps more than any other contemporary jamband. Goose’s greatest gift is their ability to fluidly incorporate and traverse many different genres, styles and musical personalities to form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts and still feels original and authentic to the band. A testament to this talent is their fan-base who, in typical jamband fashion, are highly passionate and are a community unto themselves. In line at the venue, I was less surprised than I ought to be when almost everybody I spoke to hailed from across the pond.
Goose’s greatest gift is their ability to fluidly incorporate and traverse many different genres, styles and musical personalities to form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts and still feels original and authentic to the band
It is very hard to find a Goose show that feels inauthentic, phoned in or just plain bad. The Europe tour was no different, and they arguably saved some of their best playing until these final shows. For the first of the two nights I got to witness it live. Highlights from the first set included their opener ‘Arrow’, it’s irresistibly catchy hook worked the audience into the groove until Mitaratonda lead the band through a jam equal parts ethereal and epic that clocked in at 19 minutes. After the track ‘Borne’ from their latest album, the band tipped their hats to the venue and host-city with The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’, performed in a typically funky fashion, which was received with a raucous cheer from the actual Brits in the crowd. They closed the first half with a 19 minute version of ‘Hot Tea’ that built upon peak after peak, really showcasing Mitaratonda’s fretboard wizardry.
After the intermission, they slowed the pace down with a staple cover of Fat Freddy Drops’ ‘Fish in the Sea’ and Anspach’s own tune ‘Redbird’. The latter being one of the finest jams of the night, full of sweeping synthy sonic vistas and melodic runs on both keys and guitar. The instrumental piece ‘Moby’ was followed by fan-favourite ‘Arcadia’, Anspach’s clavinet work melding perfectly with the deep pocket made by Weekz and Atkind on bass and drums. With the 23:00 curfew looming, the band finished with a sandwich between ‘Empress of Oreganos’, a newer original, and ‘Shama Lama Ding Dong’ by Otis Day. Segueing smoothly from Empress to Shama and back to Empress again, the band showed their ability to effortlessly act as a unit.
It was a wildly entertaining and exuberating evening that is also unlike anything else you will ever see. Leaving a jamband show is a very different feeling to leaving any other concert. You didn’t see a play; a perfectly rehearsed and executed production from start to finish. Instead, you were part of a dialogue and witnessed musicianship and creativity in real-time with a community of infectiously appreciative fans– something evidently worth traveling thousands of miles for. My only hope is that next time Goose comes to town, the flock looks a little more local.
The entire second night is available for free on Goose’s YouTube channel – a whole different 3 hour setlist but equally as impressive. I would highly recommend.