If parking at Red Rocks is particularly jammed, one might find themselves beginning their walk to the venue from the base of the mountain. That walk starts to feel less like a task and more like an adventure — friendly folks along curving roads passed out beer, and strangers in tie-dye on the heel-toe express turned into hiking buddies. As the stage got closer, the congregation got thicker and the journey realized itself to be a pilgrimage. Especially true, considering the band at the tail end of the destination — a cult-hero ensemble-turned-jam rock powerhouse, hailing from a dense forest on the other side of the country. And when that band, whose rise to stardom was catalyzed by a state with an unwavering allegiance to the genre they play, made their debut at that state’s Mecca of music last Thursday night, history was etched into sandstone.
The tiered gallery at Red Rocks left no seat unfilled, and Goose was short to take notice. Upon entering the stage, keyboardist/guitarist Peter Anspach exclaimed, “Are you freaking kidding me?” His bewilderment was met with a roaring response. That energy transferred into their opening song, “Hungersite,” an easy-to-follow anthem that got everyone on the same page — fans and band members alike. The crew played Dripfield’s most popular record directly into “Silver Rising,” whose live existence felt just right under blood red lights and hums by Anspach. “Tumble,” their longest jam of the night — save “Arrow” at 25 minutes — bounces around funk and punk, Americana, alt-rock and every color the light-people could conjure. Bassist Trevor Weekz thick head of lettuce blew in the wind so effortlessly, one could reasonably ponder if there was a fan attached to the head of his four-string.
Goose’s ability to bridge one song into the next was stellar, and must be experienced live, without interruption. Playing down, or up, into the home of an ensuing record is an art form, and few bands do it like Goose. Ben Atkind was the spine for these transitions, working alongside Anspach with ease to load up the next track — a process visualized, at one point, when the floor lights turned into white circles ahead of “Animal,” and after, “Arcadia,” Goose’s most recognizable singalong.
The video boards hanging from gulches ushered out Goose’s first set with a surprise message: the beloved five-piece would be bringing Goosemas — their annual holiday concert — to 1st Bank Center in Broomfield on December 17. Percussionist Jeff Arevalo foreshadowed the festivities as the group emerged for set two. He donned a Buddy the Elf costume and would continue to rock it till the night closed. “Arrow” goes long (literally), and after nearly a half-hour of improved wizardry, Goose performed a live debut cover of “Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National.
If it wasn’t already evident from hours of mind-numbing spectacle, lead singer Rick Mitarotonda wielded his guitar like Valyrian Steel. It’s a tool he’s spiritually bound to, and all night, he filled the air with as much sound as humanly possible. There were times, nestled deep in the crevices of one song or the next, that Mitarotonda made a serious case for the Mount Rushmore of current guitar players.
“Fish in the Sea” and “Milestone 2 (Skux Life)” — both covers — were opportunities for Anspach to showcase interstellar synths. Between those two records was another marquee Anspach moment, as he sang “Red Bird” with nothing but a red glowing light shining on him and his keyboard. “Slow Ready,” a smooth, buttery rendition of “So Ready,” had the landslide of tightly stitched showgoers waving their hands back and forth — it’s Goose’s true ballad.
Before finishing the night with an encore performance of “Elmeg The Wise,” Anspach gave the crowd a million thanks. Goose at Red Rocks last Thursday night was a dream come true for the band and crew, and a monumental moment for jam music in its modern form. Calling it anything less would be doing a magical performance injustice.
All photography by Abby Fox Photography