Let Goose Just Be Goose

THESE DAYS, I FIND that I spend a lot of time thinking about Goose, probably more than I actually listen to Goose. Although to be fair, the amount of time I spend listening to Goose does seem to be increasing with each passing day. I feel like each week I have a new favorite Goose song. This week it’s “Rockdale.” I’ll keep you posted about what song gets the nod next week. The studio version of “All I Need” is currently a serious contender. The drums are sweet.

Am I a fan of Goose, though? I mean, I guess. But what’s weird is that I’m not ready to say I’m a Goose fan. Why? It’s complicated. Well, it’s not but at the same time, it is. At the very least, it’s a sticky situation; one I think of my own making. Damn it, I did it to myself again. Some things may change in my life but me finding ways to complicate my own life still hasn’t.

Hold on, let’s backtrack a bit before getting too ahead of ourselves.

***

DURING THOSE FIRST few months of the pandemic, I fell back in love with Phish. It was delightful. And in turn, I started dipping my toes in the waters of Phish Twitter. Phish Twitter for the most part is Jamband Twitter. There’s jam band-related Twitter out there that has nothing to do with Phish but it seems that for the most part, all roads tend to lead back to Phish and Phish comings and goings. And this makes sense. I’ve always felt that there’s Phish and there are the two or three other jam bands you listen to when not listening to Phish. This was how it was back in the day and I imagine that’s still how it is today. Because of this phenomenon, the idea of “the next Phish” really took hold in the early aughts when Phish went on hiatus and then kind of sort of broke up for a while there. The absence of Phish in the Jamband World didn’t happen in a vacuum and people were eager to anoint the next Phish to fill the void left by the band.

String Cheese Incident? Moe? Widespread Panic? Several other bands with weird-sounding names and weirder-sounding songs?

It got a little wild there for a spell.

But then, of course, Phish returned and the natural order of things settled back down. There was Phish and there was everyone else with everyone else essentially separated by tiers and various qualifiers. The also-rans who likely unbeknownst to them, made a run at the top spot during the No Phish Years, settled back into the lives of theaters and mid-sized outdoor venues and regional festivals. None of them had the muscle to sell out a place like Madison Square Garden and that was fine. Again, there was Phish and there was everyone else. This was the way going forward and would likely be the way until Phish calls it a day.

***

OKAY, SO NOW WE get back to Phish Twitter during the pandemic and while Phish was generally keeping fans entertained by opening up the archives and running the ‘Dinner and a Movie’ series, some bands were determined to still find a way to play “live” shows. One of those bands was Goose.

Goose had started to build up a head of steam before the world stopped and when we all found ourselves hunkered at home and wearing hazmat suits to the grocery store, Goose set up shop in a barn in their home state of Connecticut and put on a series of virtual shows, live-streamed for a modest fee to their fans. Unlike Phish who brought fans down memory lane and unlike a slew of other acts who performed stripped-down “live” shows from their rehearsal space or living room, Goose set out to try and pull off as much of a live concert as they could. And it kind of worked and would be the new standard acts strove to meet until Trey Anastasio’s Beacon Jams run a few months later took it up a notch.

Once again, Phish is gonna Phish, kids.

The Bingo Tour was a twofer of sorts in that it kept the band’s fans engaged and it maintained Goose’s presence in the conversation over on Phish/Jam Band Twitter. By the time everyone was vaxxed and waxed, ready to get out in the world again, Goose’s profile, much like its fan base, had grown. Now there was talk of torches being passed in a way that was likely similar to chatter on AOL message boards back in the 90s when people were talking about Phish being the new Dead.

You know, because time truly is a flat circle.

Yet even though Goose had a Marlo Stanfield-like work ethic, Phish wasn’t about to collapse into themselves like the Barksdale Organization. Phish also emerged from the shutdown with a renewed spirit, ready to make up for the lost time. A torch may be passed at some point but that time had yet to come.

***

TWITTER IS NOT real life. It’s important to remember that even though sometimes it’s easy to forget. Twitter is just Twitter and for the most part, you can’t really get too reactionary about what you might see come across your feed. Well, unless it’s about George Santos. That guy is garbage. But besides Santos and maybe climate change deniers, everything else on Twitter is just noise. Some of it is good noise, some of it is shit noise and some of it is white noise.

Goose makes a lot of noise on Twitter. Or sorry, Goose fans make a lot of noise on Twitter. Goose fans love singing the praises of the band, extolling their every move, and heaping accolades on the band with damn near reckless abandon. It’s fine. Fans are gonna fans just like Phish is gonna Phish. It can be a bit much, though. If a Goose fan were to tweet out a video of a Rick solo from a recent live show with the caption “Rick’s guitar could cure cancer,” part of me would expect at least a handful of people in the replies to agree.

A guitar can obviously not cure cancer. Or at least I don’t think so. There’s technically no cure for cancer, so we can’t rule anything out but I do think we can at least agree a guitar wouldn’t be involved.

Rick Mitarotonda is a hell of a guitarist, though and as the lead vocalist for the band, he radiates a calm center at their core. Whereas Trey Anastasio is more outwardly joyful and enthusiastic both with Phish and on his own, Mitarotonda reminds more of Mike Gordon. Goose has keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist Peter Anspach to pick up the slack, which is probably a good thing. Anspach’s show banter is hooky as all hell but if it weren’t there, it could get awkward. An interesting what-if with Goose is what if Anspach carried himself differently, how would that alter the vibe and perception of Goose? There is a lightness to Goose; hints of silliness and notes of whimsy and I think a lot of that comes from Anspach with the rest coming from their name, Goose. Remove Anspach or have Anspach dial it back some and you’d have a different band; just not sure if it’d be for better or worse.

And yeah, the name Goose isn’t the best band name but anyone who likes Phish isn’t really at liberty to say anything. Dumb band names seem to be par for the course when it comes to jam bands and who really gives a shit. They’re Goose, not Geese, that’s someone else and maybe they all just really like either Goose from Top Gun or an actual goose. Of the millions of band names out there, roughly 8 % of them are actually good and of that number, 4.7 % of them are cool. The Goose is a dumb name for a band slight is lame. Taking a shot at them being from Connecticut would be better. Everyone knows Connecticut is the worst. Everyone.

Probably even the majority of Goose Twitter.

Yes, Goose Twitter. It’s a thing.

Phish Twitter is still a monster truck in its own right but Goose Twitter is a sleek and nimble hybrid that gets amazing gas mileage. Goose Twitter really comes into its own when Phish Twitter is dormant although this past fall when Goose hit the road with the Trey Anastasio Band streams were crossed and conversations merged. Since then, from where I sit, the two Twitters have inched closer to equal footing, which is kind of weird but Twitter is kind of weird, so whatever. But remember, Twitter isn’t real life. Goose Twitter and Phish Twitter may seem like coworkers on equal footing but Phish is still Phish, meaning that as long as they are doing their thing, Goose is still a promising underclassman.

***

DOES THAT REALLY matter, though?

Does it matter that Goose has the torch or if Goose was given the torch or if Trey is joking about torches because maybe that means he’s in on it and Goose will eventually get the torch? I don’t think so. I think torches are dumb unless you’re a caveman or lost in the jungle.

Goose is Goose. Phish is Phish.

The rush to anoint Goose as The Chosen One in Jamband Land is what initially held me back from fully embracing the band. Chalk it up to my Irish/French heritage and penchant for operating out of spite, but if everyone is saying this one thing about something, I tend to point my skiff the other way and make my own damn decisions. I resisted Goose for a good amount of time mainly because of Goose hype. The name too was a stumbling block but rest assured, I’ve gotten past that. It wasn’t until I decided to listen to Dripfield did something click for me and I was encouraged to check out more of Goose.

Their sound is more Strangefolk meets Local Natives with a twist of Vampire Weekend’s curiosity than Phish. Live you can hear some Phish but find a jam band that doesn’t have some Phish in their live show, especially one with Northeast roots.

Oooooh, Strangefolk, who among us wouldn’t rather go fishing? Great band! Not a bad name either.

***

I APPRECIATE THE excitement of Goose fans when it comes to the band being embraced by village elders, whether it’s the old wise men from Phish or the Grateful Dead. Goose fans definitely don’t lack in enthusiasm and that’s great. But part of me wishes that at the same time, Goose could be propelled and propped up more by being themselves as opposed to the company they keep. It sometimes feels like validation hunting by their fans and who cares what someone else thinks of a band you love? I worry that in some cases, expectations might get the best of Goose and that’d be a shame because it’s easy to forget that they are still something of a young band. They have a lot of room to grow and we should want them to have as much room as possible to do so and to do so free of outside influence. I don’t think it’d be great if say, Anastasio was pegged to help produce their next album. Some guidance? Sure. But I want Goose to chart their own course and not have to be dogged by Phish comparisons that are going to follow them anyway because hey, we certainly do like to compare things, don’t we.

Ah, but this could all be for naught. Goose could have their plans already set and some well-placed daps from people they admire are great for the mantle and vision board but not something they’ll bring into rehearsals with them. That would be something to get excited about.

And I tend to think that will be the case, which is sweet. You know, like the drums in the studio version of “All I Need.”

That’s called a callback, folks.

Goooooose.

 



Categories: Music

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11 replies

  1. Great summation! I really dislike the Phish vs. Goose rivalry. I can tell you that as a “Deadicated” Dead fan that once things got out of hand with the scene in the early 90’s and I lost my love for going to the shows and longed for the good old Bent daily’s that I never really gravitate to Phish and that is probably just my own fault but I love WSMFP but still felt a void from the scene that I loved. Change is difficult for many including myself, but I really enjoy GOOSE and am so happy that they exist. We don’t have to rate everything that comes around and choose sides. Just enjoy live music and be happy that the post pandemic era gives us kick ass music that we can groove to and get joy out of being in that arena once again. Much love be to all!

  2. Say “Phish is Phish” one more time… then

  3. Goose and your writing sucks. You should have titled this “Let us just be custies.”

  4. Very nice piece that makes some great points. I too dislike the comparisons and talk of torch-passing – what matters to me is that I really enjoy listening to them and have a lot of fun seeing them live (~25 times since Jan. 2020). I’ve also been continually impressed with the quality and quantity of new music they’re putting out – Thatch, Animal, and Turbulence & the Night Rays (and yeah, Rockdale!) are currently on heavy rotation for me. Will they continue to grow audiences at the current pace? Who knows. But they’ve worked their asses off and it shows. As someone who grew up seeing 80’s Dead and late 80s/early 90s Phish, I haven’t felt this kind of energy around a band in many years and I’m happy be here for it.

  5. Old head that loves Goose. Just listened today . Want more. Thanks Goose.

  6. I am a card carrying bird-bland hater, but this was a measured, informed take.

    I do take umbrage with likening the group to Marlo in ANY way. His name is his NAME, after all.

    otherwise, “nicely done” (c)McNulty to Stringer

  7. Good read but… I was hoping for a bit more substance on their music. They do so much live and in the studio that is all their own, modern and synth trance pop.
    Up until 2022 they Def. had too much phish influence. It was a turn off for me as I don’t like copy cat music. I guess they pulled the doors move and “got spiritual in the desert” in 2021. They completely busted out a new original sound, and had an incredible writing spree. IMO they went from boys to men in an instant flash. Hopefully Phish folks will realize their growth and hear how original they are now. I hate when anything gets pigeon holed .. and people never change their opinion. Goose is amazing and Def the result of the internet modern age. They have a ton to be thankful for of their influences, but being such cool, smart dudes they were able to launch from their gurus and carve out their own thing.

  8. Goose is a big time Phish rip off band. Even their name is a rip off. Naming your band Goose which is a one word name of an animal when the band that has dominated your genre for 30+ years is named Phish is egregious…

    Madhuvan is a rip off of Back on the Train.

  9. Goose is a rip off band.

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