Trey Anastasio Band and Goose kicked off their highly anticipated co-headlining tour on Wednesday night at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, ME. The space was likely familiar to some contingent of fans in the audience; Trey Anastasio‘s “other” band, Phish, has been playing the minor league hockey arena for three decades. But while the historical context enriched the pre-show buzz, the theme of the evening was the start of something new.
This marked both TAB and Goose’s first shows at the venue formerly known as the Cumberland County Civic Center and, more importantly, this marked the first official installment of a combo that promises to produce a new wave of historic highlights for the two groups.
Goose, the Connecticut-native quintet, has risen to heights not reached by new acts in the jam band world in some time. You could credit the outfit’s ascent to its live shows, which consistently beget the sort of endorphin-spiking tension-and-release improvisation that jam fans chase, but the band’s attention to songwriting and embrace of indie rock sensibilities have broadened its appeal and set it apart from the pack.
That’s what first caught Anastasio’s attention, anyway. “I’m always excited about the [bands] that are writing a lot of their own music. Goose, go Goose,” he said during a 2022 interview with SiriusXM Phish Radio prior to his first Goose sit-in back in June. “I have so much faith in, like, post-pandemic music by people in their 20s. I think they’re gonna take it now and own their era and go forth. … Go anybody who’s taking the risk, people that are playing a lot of original songs.”
Trey has long been a figurehead in the jam sphere by way of Phish, but his solo outfit has always sought to defy that prototype. Sure, there’s a fair amount of overlap in the TAB and Phish repertoires, but Anastasio’s eight-piece side project endeavors to cast those time-tested tunes in a new light, sacrificing some of the Phish stage’s open-ended nature for a more finely tuned Latin jazz-funk aesthetic. You could even argue that TAB, while undoubtedly a Trey-focused project, is more concerned with highlighting its wealth of supporting talent than the man in charge.
Related: Phish Summer Tour 2022: Recaps, Setlists, & Pro-Shot Videos
A competitive sentiment between the largely intersecting Goose and Phish/Trey fanbases ahead of the tour was inevitable. Here was the jam band guy not just touring with the new guys but ceding some of his spotlight for a co-headlining bill. Phish vets scoffed. Goose enthusiasts threw around the “t-word” with glee. Comment sections ballooned with bravado.
But what fans in Portland—and well beyond via nugs.net‘s livestream—saw on Wednesday was less of a competition and more of a well-mixed cocktail. True to its billing, the show was a summit of “two great bands that sound great together,” with an emphasis on “together.”
Goose got the night started with a 90-minute set, the band displaying its technical vitality on numbers like “Turbulence & The Night Rays”, “Atlas Dogs”, “Time To Flee”, and a stretched-out take on Eddy Grant‘s “Electric Avenue”. After “Tumble” and “A Western Sun”, multi-instrumentalist Peter Anspach thanked the fans for coming and Trey for having them out before welcoming Anastasio to the stage.
With free agent Anastasio now on the roster, the team improvisation flourished. Did you come looking for big jams? Look no further than this 20+ minute “All I Need”, a multi-section opus that turned the dual-guitar leads of Trey Anastasio and Rick Mitarotonda into something greater than the sum of their parts. Still not satisfied? The Anastasio-augmented “Pancakes” that followed was no slouch, either, and featured Trey on added vocals for good measure.
Goose w/ Trey Anastasio – “All I Need” [Pro-Shot] – 11/9/22
Phish fans who are used to set two as the jam-heavy portion of the evening may have to adjust their expectations for this run. Per an announcement on Wednesday, Trey Anastasio Band will be closing the night throughout the eight-date tour, and as we discussed above, Trey Anastasio Band isn’t quite a “jam band.”
Flanked by Russ Lawton (drums), Cyro Baptista (percussion), Ray Paczkowski (keys), Dezron Douglas (bass), and the dazzling horn/vocal section of Jennifer Hartswick (trumpet), James Casey (saxophone), and Natalie Cressman (trombone), Trey steered the ship away from the open waters of set one and into the more orchestrated dance party stylings of TAB.
Related: Phil & Friends At The Cap: Goose Guitarist, TAB Horns Form New Links In An Unbroken Chain [Videos/Audio]
Whether revamping Phish staples to showcase the octet’s added instrumentation (see: “Set Your Soul Free”, “The Moma Dance”, “Magilla”, “Everything’s Right”) or blasting through TAB tunes with arena-sized energy (see: “Mozambique”, “Alive Again”, “Curlew’s Call”), Trey’s ensemble took an alternate route to Goose, though to similarly exciting ends.
Trey Anastasio Band – “Everything’s Right” [Pro-Shot] – 11/9/22
The two camps crossed once again when Trey invited Rick Mitarotonda and Peter Anspach to the stage (and even offered up a quick “Goooose” call) ahead of “Wolfman’s Brother”. The Phish song is not native to Goose or TAB, but that combo proved successful on this funky, toiling rendition that felt both fresh and comfortable in their collective grasp. Rick sounded lovely on the “oohs” and “aahs,” a welcome adjustment from the often rocky harmonies heard on Phish renditions. Trey seemed energized by the brass textures and the lead guitar sparring partner on a song he wrote for his four-piece nearly 30 years ago.
Trey Anastasio Band w/ Rick Mitarotonda, Peter Anspach – “Wolfman’s Brother” – 11/9/22
The coalescing of the two bands bled into TAB’s encore as Rick and Peter once again joined the lineup, in addition to Goose percussionist Jeff Arevalo. With knowing smiles on every face on stage, the 11-piece fell in behind a powerful Dezron Douglas groove for the TAB debut of Phish classic “Llama”. Fans have seen this song evolve considerably over the years, from its blistering original form to the slow-funk “remix” that has popped up on occasion since 2015. This latest arrangement incorporated the characteristic inflections of TAB’s sound to great effect (don’t miss those horn solos), and the Goose garnish elevated the unique “Llama” dish from great to gourmet.
The song came to a close with a mission statement of sorts—or, if not quite that, at least an official naming ceremony—as the band swapped the final “taboot” for, you guessed it, “TABoose.”
Goose bassist Trevor Weekz plugged in and drummer Ben Atkind hopped on Cyro’s kit next to complete the full Goose/TAB communion. With a big, bad, 13-piece band running hot on an arena stage, Trey stepped into his spotlight to bring the night home with the biggest, baddest exclamation point in the TAB arsenal, “First Tube”. Of note, Rick surely added some muscle here, but there’s only one guy who hoists his guitar to the skies on this tune, and a reverent Mitarotonda wore a grin of disbelief as he watched Trey do his Jedi thing from a few feet away.
Beyond showing off the abilities of two bands keen on expanding their predetermined spaces, the “mingling of minds” element of the pairing helped elevate each group’s output within its respective comfort zone—a phenomenon that is sure to develop and intensify as the run goes on. In TAB and Goose, fans get two different flavors that taste even better together. Anybody else craving a Reese’s cup right now?
Taboose tour continues this weekend with shows in Lowell, MA (11/11), Uncasville, CT (11/12), and Glens Falls, NY (11/13). For a full list of upcoming dates, head here.
Fans who can’t make it out to the shows in person can still get in on the action with nightly TAB/Goose livestreams via nugs.net. To order your livestreams, head here.
Setlist [via elgoose.net]: Goose | Cross Insurance Arena | Portland, ME | 11/9/22
Set: Turbulence & The Night Rays, Atlas Dogs, Time to Flee, Electric Avenue, Tumble, A Western Sun, All I Need, Pancakes
Soundcheck: Electric Avenue, Atlas Dogs, S.O.S., All I Need, Pancakes
 Eddy Grant.
 With Trey Anastasio on guitar.
 With Trey Anastasio on guitar and vocals.
Setlist [via phish.net]: Trey Anastasio Band | Cross Insurance Arena | Portland, ME | 11/9/22
Set: Set Your Soul Free, Love Is What We Are, Mozambique, The Moma Dance, Alive Again, Curlew’s Call, Magilla, Everything’s Right, Roll Like a River, Sand, Valentine, Wolfman’s Brother*
Encore: Llama^, First Tube%
*with Peter Anspach on keys and Rick Mitarotonda on guitar.
^TAB debut. With Peter Anspach on keys, Rick Mitarotonda on guitar, and Jeff Arevalo and Ben Atkind on percussion; performed in an alternate arrangement. Final lyric changed from “Taboot” to “Taboose.”
%with Peter Anspach on keys, Rick Mitarotonda on guitar, Trevor Weekz on bass, and Jeff Arevalo and Ben Atkind on percussion.
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