Peter Anspach, multi-instrumentalist for the Connecticut-spawned jam band Goose, won the Super Bowl this year.
Or at least it felt something like that, when his girlfriend shouted across a Brooklyn apartment late in the game. The band’s latest single, “Hungersite,” was entertaining 100 million or so people as the broadcast went to a commercial break.
“The surprises are just becoming even more grandiose,” Anspach, 30, said of the band’s enduring hot streak.
Goose has advanced from playing small clubs to Radio City Music Hall in a few years, attracting new fans by the bucketful.
Aside from a Boston Calling appearance last May, Goose’s sold-out show at Roadrunner on Thursday will be its first Boston gig since October 2019, when ticket demand prompted promoters to upgrade the show from Middle East Upstairs to Sonia, and its 320-person capacity. More than 10 times that number will gather at Roadrunner.
“Every time something happens and we get this crazy gig, it’s just like, ‘This is a dream. This is incredible.’ And then somehow a couple months later, something even bigger happens. And that’s just kind of continued,” said drummer Ben Atkind, a Needham native who met future Goose lead guitarist Rick Mitarotonda while the two were enrolled at Berklee College of Music.
“We know how to get in a van and play a bar, but when you get into this level of things it really takes an experienced team around you,” Atkind, 35, added.
Goose peppers its shows with 20-minute excursions — typically the jams are high energy, with hair-raising peaks — and often crafts free-flowing sets that land like orchestral suites. But its members place more value on songcraft than many of their jam-minded peers, and alt-rock is a big influence. Mitarotonda’s lyrics often have an earnest, searching quality, while avoiding the bumper-sticker philosophy favored by some others in the scene.
He handles lead vocals along with Anspach, who also alternates between guitar and keyboards. They and Atkind are joined by bassist Trevor Weekz and percussionist Jeff Arevalo.
The group assembled in Norwalk, Conn., in 2014, kicking around local bars for a while. But the Goose phenomenon as we now know it coalesced in 2019, after footage of its performance at the Peach Music Festival in Pennsylvania became an online hit and the group launched a sold-out fall tour that looms large in band mythology.
When the onset of the coronavirus pandemic threatened to derail their rapidly accelerating momentum, band members earned additional respect by going beyond the notion of a basic livestream. They played four shows with setlists chosen in real time by a game of Bingo.
“There’s so many other things I think we have within us to present to the world, and as this thing goes on it’s just going to be unveiled,” Anspach said. “You know what I mean? It’s a slow unwrapping of who Goose is.”
Rock history is littered with bands who came apart under the pressure of accelerating success. Goose’s members have worked to avoid that pitfall, building up their management and production teams and keeping their ears on the music.
Last year, they got some advice about band longevity from a guy who’s been playing with the same group — minus two notable breaks — since 1983.
Phish frontman Trey Anastasio joined Goose for a long sit-in at Radio City last year and later invited the band on a co-headlining tour with his main solo project. It all spawned innumerable half-joking comments online about Anastasio passing the jam band torch to 32-year old Mitarotonda, complete with accompanying memes.
“I think he had this idea that he just wanted to pay it forward,” Mitarotonda said. “He said he just wanted to fan the flame of the next generation or whatever it may be, which was very, very humbling.”
It’s nice hitting milestones like playing Radio City or touring with Anastasio. By any measure, the boys done good. But Mitarotonda said it’s important not to let the hype become the point.
“I wouldn’t want to get into a situation where, if all of a sudden the buzz wasn’t what it used to be, that we were bummed out,” he said. “I’m keen on trying to not pay too much attention to it and just focus on internal growth and just listening to instincts, trusting the gut.”
Whatever the band’s budget for torch maintenance may or may not be, its members are trying to stay focused on accompanying their rising popularity with musical growth.
Goose improvisations don’t often wade through the interstellar regions explored by some of the band’s improvisational forebears. The group has, though, mastered the art of the gently rising rock jam, cresting with thrilling displays of musical fireworks. On a good night, Goose offers one of the best musical exclamation points in the business.
“One of the tougher things to do as a musician in front of an audience is to really be able to control your dynamics. It’s very easy to get excited and super-stoked by all the cheering fans, but it is very effective when you’re able to keep the energy up but also play quietly,” Anspach said. “That’s something we’ll probably always be working on, but I think it’s something we’re definitely getting better at.”
In the meantime, they may want to set a DVR for the NBA Finals.
Jeremy D. Goodwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.