It can be argued that perhaps no other band has done a better job of making the best out of the COVID-based restrictions on live music that have seemingly become the new normal in 2020 than the Connecticut-based Indie-Groove outfit Goose. While other groups were, at best, spending their summers primarily booking sporadic single-night live-streaming appearances at empty stadiums or sparsely attended drive-in theatres, Goose was among the first national touring acts to schedule an extended run of live-streamed shows from a remote location. Dubbed the “Bingo Tour” – setlists for the string of June performances were curated in real-time by the selection of balls labeled with various song titles from a bingo roller operated by band “Coach” Jon Lombardi – the band ultimately hosted a virtual ten-day online event featuring eight sets of music over the course of four nights as well as six additional days of community and interactive fan events that garnered national headlines and nearly unanimous critical acclaim.
However, innovation & clever logistics will only get you so far in this industry, particularly if you don’t have the musical chops to back them up. Fortunately, this newly-formed quintet of improvisational virtuosos (this tour marked percussionist Jeff Arevalo’s first shows as a full-time member) is teeming with the kind of refreshing soul-searching talent & technical ability that has propelled their careers since their 2014 inception and cemented their status as one of the hottest and most intriguing acts in live music today.
With this week’s much-anticipated release of the Bingo Tour movie, the fruits of Goose’s labor are fully realized. This remarkably well-produced feature-film clocks in at just over two-and-a-half hours (not counting a separate, yet fascinatingly intimate, 55-minute behind-the-scenes look into the production of the Bingo Tour) and captures Goose at a performance-peak.
Augmented by the creative camera-work of director Bryan Murphy and lush visuals of lighting director Andrew Goedde, who transformed the somewhat rustic Goose Community Rec Center in Norwalk, Ct into an otherworldly futuristic venue, Goose selected some of the strongest material from this extended run and presents them in a traditional two-set format.
Starting off with the fan-favorite “Hot Tea”, a funky disco-infused rocker with a hauntingly-catchy chorus, the band eventually segued into a scorching version of “Creatures” that ultimately slams back into the ending of “Hot Tea” after an explosive outro jam featuring the trademark tension & release stylings of lead guitarist Rick Mitarotonda. This opening sequence also showcases the exceptionally unique skills of multi-instrumentalist Peter Anspach, who pulls double-duty as the band’s second guitarist and sole keyboardist. Regardless of whichever instrumentation Anspach chooses, he consistently provides the perfect accompaniment to Mitarotonda’s intricate leads while occasionally stepping forward to create peak moments of his own, as he does with some rousing electric piano work during “Hot Tea.”
The upbeat original “Drive” was next, and contained some humorous mid-jam selections from the bingo roller, including “take a lap” (every band member runs a quick lap around the building while the playing continues) and “coach on rainstick” which is, well, exactly what it sounds like. The film’s opening stanza came to a close with the commonly played “All I Need” featuring an exploratory outro jam that seemingly traversed a multitude of different musical avenues.
A brief intermission segment fills the time in between sets with some genuinely funny & candid moments featuring band members along with a few cringe-inducing attempts at a Tim & Eric-style parody “newscast” which falls flat on its face from the very beginning.
Thankfully, the music quickly returns with an extended cover of New Zealand’s reggae legends Fat Freddy’s Drop “Fish in the Sea” that eventually settles into just the second public performance of a new original “Factory Fiction” and closes with yet another impressive tension & release-laden jam. The performance comes to a triumphant conclusion with a beautiful take on one of Goose’s older songs, “Rosewood Heart.”
Like Billy Strings, Goose’s rapid momentum was almost halted with the pandemic, yet with its creative approach to performing, the band still made 2020 a captivating year courtesy of its own turf.
The Bingo Tour movie is now available for 48-hour rental or digital purchase at http://goosebingotour.com/