Driving into Asbury Park, New Jersey, a seaside town trying to be several things at once, we headed in the direction of a hotel, one built fairly recently. Across the street, ground had been broken for something, presumably another hotel or tower full of luxury condos. As we searched for parking I couldn’t help but wonder what Asbury Park would look like in five years. A few hours later, sweaty and beaming from that special blend of happiness only live music can provide, I also wondered what Goose would look like in five years.
We’ll get to that in a few.
But first, tacos and then a short walk across the street to the Stone Pony Summerstage where Goose was set to play. It was hot, the sun was beating down, and having seen a handful of shows at the venue, I can honestly say I had never seen it so crowded. The show hadn’t even started and the joint was busting at the scenes. Lines for beers and drinks weren’t even obnoxiously long. People were just ready to go and it wasn’t even seven o’clock yet. This is kind of par for the course at Stone Pony Summerstage shows it should be noted, courtesy of the town’s 10pm curfew but this time it felt different. The air lay heavy with excitement and anticipation and Goose took the stage, opened with a Van Morrison tune and away we went.
It was somewhat of a muted opening to the show but I can’t say that Goose are known for opening their shows with gusto. They tend to meander their way in and pick up steam as the show goes on, which is what happened Monday night. Outside of “Wild Night,” each song eclipsed ten minutes, and at some point during the show’s fourth song, “Everything Must Go,” the scope of work started to come into view, and you started to get a handle on what we were all dealing with and more importantly, about to deal with. Goose was getting their legs under them and by the time “Animal” was played, closing out the first set, you got the feeling that something was afoot for the second set.
Wait! Before getting into the second set, there was this dude in front of us for most of the first set and my man was having himself a heck of a great time. He was really using the space well. You know the type. Arms raised, hands twisting into each other like pretzels in love, loving glances at his friends, calling out the title of songs. This fella was an older gentleman, maybe middle age. My wife thought he was a dentist. I said estate lawyer. I wouldn’t rule out car salesman or Someone Who Works At A Bank. Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
Now, only a few ticks to my man’s right was a group of young bucks and they too were enjoying themselves. I have to imagine one of them was on something wild as that would be the only suitable explanation for his outfit. At a certain point, they started making snide glances at each other with the snideness referring to the dancing dentist/estate lawyer/car salesman/Someone Who Works At A Bank. They were smirking, clearly having a laugh at this guy’s expense and hey, assholes, knock that shit off. I mean, I didn’t say that, but I thought it and I’m saying it now. Young people at shows, I would think twice before making fun of someone older than you enjoying themself because chances are, that could be you in twenty or so years. Don’t be a dick.
I think the guy was definitely an estate lawyer, for what it’s worth and we never saw him again because we elected to switch over to Peter’s side for the second set, not so much to get a glimpse at Goose’s resident, smiling, used book store employee-looking multi-instrumentalist but because that side has better access to bathrooms. Did I mention we’re old? Ha. Nah, we’re just smart.
We were one of several couples jamming out and checking their phones to see if the babysitter had texted. At one point, there were other parents presumably of young children doing the same thing. The thing about getting older is that it’s all good fun but you have to at least keep tabs on real life. So we did and they did and those other people did and so did those people behind us. The Goose crowd is such a fun smorgasbord of life in that there are young people experiencing this madness for the first time, 20-somethings in their prime, 30-somethings holding onto that 20-something feeling, and from there, the married couples, the new parents, the old parents, the divorcees, the dads out for a dudes night, the moms out for a gals night and of course, the old schoolers looking to see what these new kids were all about. This kind of crowd isn’t exclusive to Goose of course, but it just seemed so adorable that I couldn’t help but notice.
Okay, so that second set. Yeah, the one with the fireworks. It was fucking bananas.
Because of how strong “Animal” was closing the first set, there seemed to be some magic percolating in the air heading into set 2. Although because of that air, thick, heavy & hot, there was also a moment of pause when the Voice of God came over the P.A., telling the crowd that they were tracking thunderstorms and in the event of inclement weather, the venue would be evacuated. This happened to The Wife and I a few weeks earlier when we saw Young the Giant at the Stone Pony. It was a bummer but the show eventually resumed, albeit an hour or so later. I didn’t want this to happen again but if it did, so be it. There were bars close by.
This ominous announcement was soon forgotten as the band raged into a fiery version of “Yeti,” a song that got the whole crowd bouncing in damn-near unison. “Yeti” is like a pool. How can you not like a pool? How can you not like “Yeti?” IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! People were lighting up their ish, drinking their drinks, chugging their water…life was good in Asbury Park, friends.
“Yeti” flowed like a babbling broke into the winding country roads of “Creatures” and yeah, the feeling that set two would F–KING BRING IT now felt spot on because they were bringing it. At some point, amidst the swirling guitars and thumping beat, I started wondering how things would shake down if Goose were a basketball team and eventually landed on Rick (Shooting Guard,) Peter (Point Guard,) Ben (Power Forward,) Jeff (Strong Forward,) and Trevor (Center) and then I laughed picturing these dudes playing basketball and that was the end of that. I then watched Trevor for five minutes and didn’t see him move once…besides his fingers of course and thought maybe he fell asleep. Peter on one side of the stage and Trevor on the other is like looking at a cooler filled with energy drinks and sedatives. There’s not much in between. And Rick is either weed or a smooth liquor that makes you feel comfortable unbuttoning a few buttons on your shirt, whether you should or not. Ben is an incredible drummer, perfect for the band, and well, Jeff has a timbale now. Damn right.
Then the fireworks started and it was sweet. “Arcadia” was sweet. I had a bottle of water in each hand and one in each back pocket because I’m a grown man and the sweating was real. The bottles of water were sweet. “Electric Avenue” was delightful.
My only gripe…my ONLY gripe was that while “Dripfield” was sick and it shifted gears so many times you would have thought we were climbing a f–king mountain, not every song needs to be 15 minutes or more, Goose. After the fireworks, the crowd was nestled snug as a bug in Pete’s stache and yes, it could be the age talking, but the jams in “Dripfield” dripfieled in intensity at times and in doing so, seemed to take things down a peg. I fully understand that in the words of my buddy, “jam bands are gonna jam” and giddy up. But I like variety and I do think a Goose show could benefit from mixing it up. If they had thrown some heaters in there after “Arcadia,” a few tunes in a row with minimal jamming, and then “Dripfield,” well, that would have been as cool as the bottles of water.
BUT WHATEVER THEY DIDN’T AND IT WAS FINE AND THAT’S JUST MY OPINION BUT I LOVED THE JAMMING.
So, I’ll stop and go all the way back to my original point: wondering what Goose will be like in five years.
Goose seem very clearly on an upward trajectory and I doubt that if they play the Jersey Shore again, it will be at the Stone Pony Summerstage. Bigger venues are on the horizon for them and by next summer, the outdoor spots for 2,000-4,000 people likely won’t cut it. I think they’re headed for the sheds on a regular basis, not just here and there.
I’m interested in their next album, what the songs are like, and how they navigate the time-honored tradition of jam bands struggling to bring their sound into the studio. Dripfield is a fantastic album and (whispers) kind of backs up my point of them jamming less would be cool, so I want to see how they follow it up. So many jam bands have made runs over the years but they’ve all hit a ceiling. With Goose, I’m not sure what the ceiling is and as a fan of the band, that’s exciting.
Seeing Goose on a hot Monday night in lovely Asbury Park felt like being let in on a secret, learning a secret handshake, or finding out what’s behind that door that says “do not enter” then you enter and it’s full of bongs and joints and Dr. Pepper and Oreos and reruns of The Office. There was a freshness to the show, an excitement reserved for youthful pursuits and you couldn’t help but leave convinced that those boys are destined for greatness or at least a future with a higher ceiling than most jam bands not named Phish.
Did I mention it was hot? It was really f–king hot.
But the music was cool as hell, kid.
Ryan harbors a constant fear of losing his keys, prefers flip flops, and will always choose cereal if it’s an option. He maintains his own blog, Giddy Up America, and has previously contributed work to UPROXX & Heavy. Ryan is on Twitter: @ryanoconnell79