The five-show first leg of Goose’s 2021 touring season showcased a wildly different band than any of us had seen in previous years. With a distinct focus on new arrangements of classic songs and experimentation with tempos, the quintet blew minds night after night, with jumps off the deep-end into previously uncharted improvisational waters.
Beginning with the Frederick Arrow, which took place among the first of two weather-plagued shows, Goose showed a willingness to deviate from their familiar exceptional tension-and-release jams in favor of spacier, more groove-based jams akin to their rehearsal “Ted” jams. The second night in Frederick (5/4) continued that trend with a massive Creatures that opened its second set, highlighted by Peter’s incredibly smooth new Vintage Vibe electric piano, setting the band off on a 25-minute excursion deep into the groove - eschewing the normal Type I tension and release section the song normally has. Don’t sleep on 5/4’s first set either – it boasts a fiery rendition of Time to Flee, a slow build All I Need -> Flodown, and an explosive Arcadia that saw Rich squeezing every drop of tension from the jam with the use of his new wah pedal.
As tour continued down to Charleston, Goose took the stage at a gorgeous riverside venue and delivered a fun show for all of us. From the first notes of the Switchin’ opener, the band cultivated a laid-back vibe, which continued in the 19-minute Hot Tea later in the set. Starting the song at a much slower tempo than usual, Goose took the opportunity to really dig into the song’s groove – a really interesting and atypical jam developed with Peter on synth and Rick on a strange-sounding chorus effect. Other highlights from this show include the briefly-Type-II The Way It Is, an explosive So Ready, This Old Sea’s new arrangement, and the band hamming it up during Earthling or Alien?.
Tour moved onto Tennessee and the gorgeous Caverns Above Ground venue. After a strong (albeit inside-the-box) opening to the show, Rich and Peter busted out acoustic guitars on stage for the first time ever and invited lighting director Andrew Goedde up to whistle on Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard in honour of his birthday. The real highlight of the set was the Rosewood Heart that began with Rick on acoustic guitar but switched to electric as the jam started to create a version that more than stands up to the fabled “Hosewood” from last fall’s South Farms shows. The first complete “Jiveangle” took over the next segment of the show, with Jive I closing the first set and a phenomenal Jive Lee -> Jive II to open the second frame, featuring an extra ten minutes of jamming (whether you consider it Jive II or “Jam” is up to interpretation) before fading into Wysteria Lane and the live debut of likely the most popular track off of the Ted Tapes, Moby. While this performance stuck to the previously released version’s groove and length, both the band and crowd had ear-to-ear grins as Trevor dropped bass bomb after bass bomb through the song’s incredible groove. A searing Empress of Organos and an emotional 726 encore solidified this show as one of Goose’s strongest to date.
The final night of tour, much like the opening night, was plagued by torrential rain – however, this time due to the lack of an early curfew at the Caverns, the band was able to get in a full show that closed the first leg of 2021 on a high note. From the opening notes of Atlas, which had notably been written on multiple previous setlists but hadn’t been played yet, the crowd and band were amped up to continue their hot streak from the night before. The rest of the abbreviated first set contained a fantastic new groovy instrumental original titled Welcome to Delta and a slightly truncated Elmeg the Wise that led into an extended setbreak due to the precipitation. As fans took shelter in the Caverns’ underground portion and got their hands on dry copies of the El Goose Times, spirits remained high and as the band took the stage for the second set over an hour later, it felt like no energy was lost during the break. Opening with the Madhuvan everyone knew was coming, Goose dove headfirst into the jam, once again eschewing their traditional tension and release in favour of a spacier, more Ted-like space. before building into a more traditional peak ahead of a fantastic segue into the tour’s first repeat, Spirit of the Dark Horse. This song continued the flow of the set perfectly, giving Peter yet another chance to shine on the Vintage Vibe electric piano before finishing off Madhuvan with a bang. Doobie Song offered a quick breather with Peter taking the song on organ instead of his usual guitar part. Yet another new arrangement debuted next as a slow and Ted-ified Tumble gave us another phenomenal ethereal jam before Don’t Do It closed the set. Returning to stage for the encore, Goose closed the tour with an absolute HEATER of a Crosseyed and Painless, complete with an Elmeg Reprise to finish the first set’s truncated version.
Six shows into the year, the band continues to up the ante with more and more diverse jams and shows. With an extensive summer and fall tour already scheduled, there’s no telling the heights that Goose will continue to reach every show. HONK!