The Trey Anastasio Band and Goose opened their tour together at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland Maine on November 09 2022. Live photos by Eric Simon.
You would be hard pressed to find a band on a more meteoric rise in the jam or live music scene than the band Goose, who have gone from clubs and afternoon slots at festivals a few years ago to headlining arenas across the country. And you would be hard pressed to find a more critical co-billing than the tour that just commenced last night with the Trey Anastasio Band. The initial pairing which saw Anastasio sit in with Goose at Radio City Music Hall earlier this year sent a ripple effect through the jam scene, and felt like a coronation of Goose as a sudden and unexpected addition to a pantheon of bands to watch or celebrate in the jam scene.
The tour opened last night in Portland Maine and will continue for seven more shows through November 19th in Reading Pennsylvania. Each band performed for ninety minutes, and each band’s set culminated with a sit in from members of the other band for most of the last thirty minutes of their set. Anticipation filled this historic arena where both Phish and the Grateful Dead have played as the lights went down and the initial appearance of these two bands together began.
I keep thinking that I imagined seeing Goose recently. But I have just checked my recordings and in fact I did see them at a daytime set just a few years ago at Jerry Jam in New Hampshire, in 2019. Not headlining, not as ‘the band to watch’, just a normal band among a handful of them slogging away with daytime slots attempting to garner fans one at a time. That set is below:
From the opening notes on November 09, Goose illustrated why their rise has been so steep of late. They have a refined sound and while there is a diversity in the music, every song has a strong vibe that is Goose. As a quintet they are Ben Atkind on drums, Jeff Arevalo on percussion, Trevor Weekz on bass, Peter Anspach on keyboards and occasional guitar plus vocals, and Rick Mitarotunda on guitar and vocals. They have gelled and learned to steep all of their material in a broth that is clearly Goose, giving their songs and set a definitive sound.
OK, yes- they sound like Phish. But the whole vibe is nearly entirely different. The lineup is essentially Phish plus percussion, but the resultant sound is different. For decades the jam prescription for many bands has been about tension and release, the escalating of the jam toward some sort of volcanic explosion. Different bands handle it differently from the bluegrass heights of Billy Strings and String Cheese, to the EDM grooves of Lotus and the Disco Biscuits, to the jammy crescendos of the plethora of bands working in the Grateful arena. Songs and shows are funneled in such a way as to exploit this champagne cork popping of a band’s energy, and fans have come to expect it.
It may be difficult to explain, but Goose is not like that. Instead of a shred fest that leads to these titanic and tectonic culminations, they instead steer their flight path in a direction, follow it, and bring the band in for a soft landing. It’s like their aim is not to propel you to outerspace but to take you on a gorgeous scenic ride and safely deliver you back home. It’s like their aim is rap you in a warm blanket, to make you comfortable, warm, and ultimately, happy.
This was on full display during their set for the first hour. I was not terribly familiar with the material aside from their original “Time to Flee” and a surprising and great cover. Following “Time to Flee” the band laid down an expansive keyboard landscape and some telltale riffs that had me wondering, and then it was confirmed when Mitarotunda began the lyrics to the seminal Eddy Grant 80s hit, “Electric Avenue.” The song was perfect, an invitation to new fans with a song that they know and love and could be made Goose’s own. It was a brilliant addition to the set that made me feel as if the band truly wanted me to get to know them, and thereby get to love them.
It is hard to compare the vibe of Goose to other bands. They have the purposeful and polished casual laid back sound of either 311 or Jack Johnson, but clearly sound nothing like them stylistically. It may be the perfect band for the third generation of jam fans- who may not be looking for frenzy or interstellar exploration, rather a sincere grounding in comfortable surrounds while expressing new ideas. I have to say, their efforts to bring me to attention in a non stressful way are really working.
At the sixty minute mark they brought Trey Anastasio out on stage to a roar of approval from the crowd. For thirty minutes the sextet became the shredfest that is the staple of the jam scene. They played only two songs in that time, and explored every single nook and available space for jamming. Mitarotunda stood next to Trey and the two exchanged licks as if there would be no tomorrow. I have to imagine that for Mitarotunda it was a dream come true, standing with someone who is clearly a major influence on his playing and his band, in front of a huge crowd, and to be accepted as a peer. The band’s energy and enthusiasm was palpable, as was Trey’s posture that had a paternal elder vibe, but was without pretense.
Turbulence & The Night Raysv (Vasudo cover)
Time to Flee
Electric Avenue (Eddy Grant cover)
A Western Sun
All I Need (with Trey Anastasio)
Pancakes (Great Blue cover) (with Trey Anastasio)
There was a break of about thirty minutes while the crew feverishly turned the stage over.
The Trey Anastasio Band took the stage and fired up an already warm crowd. The band is anchored by new bassist Dezron Douglas, long time drummer Russ Lawton, and percussionist Cyril Batiste making for a thick and wide rhythm section. The horn section also doubles on vocals and includes Natalie Cressman on trombone, Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet, and James Casey on saxophone, on keyboards is Ray Paczkowski, and of course Trey Anastasio on guitar and vocals stands front and center.
Read the review of the Trey band Radio City Music Hall Fall of 2021 show here.
I went and saw Trey band at Radio City roughly this time last Fall. The band that performed on that night was ravaged by Covid, and had Jon Fishman on drums, no horn section, and a general Phish-Other vibe to it. This band that I saw last night was the band that I was expecting, a big band performing orchestrated dance music with a jammy funky vibe that accessed Latin, world, big band and jazz elements to create a wholly different sound and tone.
One of the most impactful elements is the powerhouse vocal section comprised of Anastasio in the front but Cressman and Hartswick providing deft and dare I say highly polished and professional vocals throughout the show. Goose’s vocal quality is far and above better than most bands in the jam scene, but let’s face it- Phish, the Dead, and some of the others previously mentioned have fun vocals, but do not feature the highest quality singing. The Trey Anastasio band does, though. It’s a knockout punch when the band hits on all of their vocals.
And that crew, now referencing James Casey also, provided a great horn section both in accompaniment sections and in solo sections. They are able to provide the textures and note patterns and rhythms that legitimize TAB’s attempts to go with Latin and jazz infused material. It doesn’t just sound jazzy, or ethnic, the music legitimately represents those genres throughout the set.
The TAB set featured songs that I consider Trey Band staples from the set opener “Set Your Soul Free” through “Alive Again.” Much of the rest of the set was reimagined Phish material that at times veered far from the Vermont quintet’s versions. “Magilla” was reimagined as a big band piece, and “The Moma Dance” sounded much different than the version I know from Phish. It is possible that these are standard interpretations of this material by TAB, I just haven’t seen that band all that much to know.
The set ended with Mitarotunda and Anspach returning to the stage to hoots of goooooossssssee from the audience for a rollicking “Wolfman’s Brother.” Now, I went to this show with my brother… And let’s just say we are both quite hirsute. Either one of us could be the Wolfman, for sure. We have a lengthy debate going as to who is the wolfman and who is the wolfman’s brother, so we felt very welcomed by this song to close out the set. May you decide which is which, and who is who:
The full band came back along with members of Goose to perform a two song encore. The first song was Phish cover “Llama” but again, done in a completely different and slow way. Jams were jammed. Finally the show culminated with another Phish song in “First Tube” and the now twelve piece double band had a great time and explored lots of territory before sending a sated and happy band into the Maine night.
In a musical lifestyle scene like that of Phish or the jam band community in general, fans see lots of shows. After a while it becomes difficult to differentiate one night from another aside from an odd cover or a breakout song, or a gimmick. This night, this pairing, this concept is reason to celebrate- an introduction of a new band to many, a quality pairing of older and younger musicians performing together, teaching, learning, showing new and old tricks to each other.
Trey was incredibly gracious throughout the show, sharing the limelight in a most generous way that is rare among rock stars. You just knew he was happy to have Goose sharing the stage, and wasn’t overly concerned about his own personal adulation. But in the last minutes of the show, he slid toward the front of the stage. A million lumens of bright white light surrounded him, and he raised his guitar in the air as if he were He-Man and he was channeling the entirety of the universe’s energy through his guitar and ultimately through himself. it served as a reminder as to why we were all there. He was atop Mount Olympus, Zeus himself- alone atop a heap of amazing musicians as leader and master. But his ego is not endless, and his need for adulation and homage is not consuming- rather he is happy to sit atop of this world and lead us all into the next generations of live music and improvisation with a little help from his friends, new and old.
Trey Anastasio Band SETLIST:
Set Your Soul Free
Love Is What We Are
(Trey Anastasio song)
The Moma Dance
(Trey Anastasio song)
(Trey Anastasio song)
Roll Like a River
(Trey Anastasio song)
(Trey Anastasio song)
(Phish cover) (with Rick Mitarotonda)
(with Rick Mitarotonda)
(Phish cover) (with Goose)
To submit an article an article or review, or to just say hello hit us at [email protected]
Also- check out the search feature in the upper right hand corner and search for your favorite artist, event, venue or genre. You’ll be surprised at what you find!
Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.