Saturday, October 1, 2022

Seeing Goose for the First Time

Goose fans are a happy bunch. And why shouldn't they be? Rather than racking up yet another lifetime achievement award, their band is winning the World Series this year. Could this 2022 team beat the best that 1997 or 1977 had to offer? That's not worth debating or comparing. That's because Goose fans are living in the now. This very present moment, riding a wave that is showing no sign of a crest.

Goose fans are also a very friendly and talkative crew. By observation, it's hard to discern between close friends who know each other well and folks meeting for the first time and bonding over their favorite subject. They definitely speak a language I'm familiar with, although it has tinges of a foreign tongue only because it stems from an earth-like planet that I haven't made that many voyages to yet. I'm in no hurry to shake off that dewiness. I want to relish in it as much as possible.

My contrary nature doesn't always make it easy for me to engage, but whenever anyone learned that it was going to be my first show they were very excited for me. "It'll change your life," I was told. It kind of felt like a time warp to the year 1994, being in on a not-so-well-kept secret called Phish and welcoming new guests to the party. Only this time I was the Oldy Olson being ushered into the flock.

My first Goose show was now two days ago - 9/29/22 at The National in Richmond, VA. Being a local, I've been to The National many times before but I had never sensed anything like the pre-show energy or excitement of this crowd. Apparently, the line outside had started forming that morning, but it still wasn't all that long by the time I got in line at about 5:30pm. After a 90-minute wait, the doors opened and I went straight down and stood close to the stage. Not on the rail - that space was already spoken for - but not too far back from that. I managed to stay in this spot all night, even as it got tighter and tighter packed to the point where it seemed like the 1,500 capacity venue couldn't have held another human.

The only pic I took. The stage before the show.

Jamband aficionados call their concerts "shows", so that means that Goose is in the show business. Showbiz. Since it was my first time seeing Goose I tried to take it all in and probably over-analyzed some aspects of it. I'm fairly convinced that Goose has a formula or a reason behind everything they do, on stage or off. The marketing side of their collective brains never really shuts off, but there is an equally strong artist persona that also shines through. And just a drive. A professionalism. A blend. A mix. A need to create and perform.

In general I think I pretty much liked all of it. All of it was awesome. Do I like being in a crowd of sardines like that? Definitely not. But I tried not to let that bother me. If you were aware of your personal space and surroundings it made it troublesome to dance freely because there simply wasn't the space to do so without bumping into your neighbor, or being bumped into.

I most dug the parts where Goose seemed to let the music breathe and let the moment dictate the compositional path of an improvisation. I can respect the allure of falling back on a patented and crowd-pleasing jamband 101 tension/release build that uses the lights to help induce a jovial and cathartic release, but those moments are to be expected and weren't really what I would consider the highlights. If that was all that Goose was about then it wouldn't be as good as it is.

Goose played two nights in Richmond, but I only went to the first of the two. Despite only going one night, I don't really feel like I missed anything. I was perfectly content and happy to watch last night's free webcast from home. Loveseat tour. At this point for me, Goose simply has an overall sound and I got a good dose of that in-person on Thursday. Enough to last for a couple months at least. Or at least until my ears stop ringing. Next time is going to be in a much larger venue. The intimacy may be gone but I'm going to enjoy being able to spread out.

Will Goose change my life? I don't know. I feel like I'm already living a changed life, changed for the better. Goose wasn't the catalyst of this change but it complements it. Hmmm. Adding Goose to the recipe doesn't really feel like a change but more of a return after a 30 year detour. Circuital. Maybe me and Goose - our relationship - can remain pure and untainted. That would be the best outcome of all.


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