Pre-Goose Project Peter Anspach, Big Blue, concluded a memorable five-show date streak on the East Coast from May 14-19. Featuring their first festival appearance of the season, the short-lived mini-tour managed to create significant buzz among the jam scene faithful and included stops in Philadelphia, Rhode Island, DomeFest in Ohio and a pair of New York shows in Rochester and Saratoga Springs, respectively.
While fun-loving Anspach is best known for his work with groundbreaking psychedelic improvisational rockers goose, these shows shone the spotlight on another side of “Handini.” Fully embracing the excessive “rock star” persona that was partially removed with his main band, it was in these more relaxed, club-like environments that Anspach was truly able to release his “ya-ya’s”. The result was nothing less than live music magic.
Couldn’t attend any of the shows? Carefree! NYS Music sat down with the band for their instant classic performance at Putnum Place on Thursday May 19th and has all the sights (and some of the sounds) of what many in attendance could be heard calling “one of the best shows they’ve ever had.” have never seen.
Kicking off the show with a standout opening set of genre-bending electronic rockers escapementthe New York-based band were also joined by special guest Luke Bemand from Thepspecial on bass for the evening. With positive lyrics, danceable grooves and impressive compositions, even their seemingly straightforward jams turned into direct heaters, especially when Bemand’s slamming hand took the reins. After closing their set with a sprawling new 9-minute epic titled “Spaceship,” Escaper frontman Will Hanza humbly took the opportunity to express his sincere gratitude to those in attendance, saying “Thank you so much guys. You know, after everything we’ve been through, all of us, it means a lot that we can all come together for these things, so thank you and please keep doing it.
After a brief intermission, the Thursday night funk party resumed in full force with the headliners of our evening Big Blue set their controls for the sun and took off like a rocket from hell, opening with the songs “Lily’s Tiger” quickly followed by “Willy” from their 2013 album Rewind. While many Goose fans are barely discovering Great Blue, make no mistake, it’s anything but a New bandaged. Comprised of four lifelong friends, their origins date back to their high school days in the basement. Along with Peter Anspach, Great Blue also featured Ethan Michael on guitars and sometimes keyboards, Seth Suzker on bass, and presumably paying homage to the late Taylor Hawkins by wearing a Foo Fighters shirt, was Nick Hanna on drums.
Together Great Blue have been performing for over a decade now and have four studio albums to their name. With a choice of songs in their back catalog, the band amped things up even further with a high-octane rendition of “Together Not The Same” that featured an insane guitar solo from Anspach that got completely lost in the music, smiling ear to ear while thrashing on stage in pure punk rock fury. After working on “Banana Jam” and a cover of “Sunflower” by Vampire Weekend, Goose fans in attendance became audibly excited as “Doc Brown”‘s heavy reggae groove swept through the room. While the “Back to the Future” inspired jam was originally written by Great Blue, in recent years the song has been embraced by Goose and has become a staple on their live show, but the surprises don’t shy away. wouldn’t stop there because the quartet went on seamlessly. sandwiched in another familiar Goose song in the form of “Whales” before finally returning to the reggae roots of “Doc Brown.”
Following this with 2014’s “Crossfaded Mammoth”, Great Blue then unveiled their latest neo-psychedelic jam “Blue Marbles”. After “Pancakes”, someone in the audience shouted “You guys are so good!” to which Anspach enthusiastically replied from the stage: “It’s that band!” pointing at his comrades. “These guys are awesome, I love them.” Shifting gears, Peter took a moment to reflect on the group’s beloved former mascot Leo, a golden retriever who was with them in their basement debut, always sitting there no matter how on the AP was. .
“Lion in the Grass” was then played in memory of Leo and also featured one of the most memorable moments of the night when Anspach and guitarist Ethan Michael ended up playing part of the song as they were both lying on stage. “Jeff Engborg”, both a real person and a real song, came next while the main part of the show ended with an emphatic rendition of “Seeker”. As the clock ticked down to one o’clock on Thursday evening, Great Blue had yet another surprise up its sleeve. Like a spaceship returning from beyond, our fantastic journey then landed with a cover of Red Hot Chili Pepper’s hit, “Around the Word.” Suddenly, in what seemed like an unsolicited last call, the band then burst into Goose’s fan favorite, “Yeti”, perhaps the best-known song originally written by Great Blue and later adopted. by their high-flying friends.
As the house lights came on and fans rushed to buy all of the Great Blue merchandise, more than one could be heard calling it “the best show they’ve seen in years” and “the best $15 they’ve ever spent”. “Indeed, it was a good one. Full of unbridled energy, youthful exuberance, danceable funk-filled grooves, soaring sonic peaks and over-the-top charisma, Great Blue sparked an instant classic performance that night in spa town. With their mini-run now in the rearview mirror, all eyes turn to the Westville Music Bowl this weekend when Peter Anspach joins his “other” band, Goose, to kick off their highly anticipated summer tour.
Big Blue | Place Putnum | Saratoga Springs, NY | 05/19/22
set list: Lily’s Tiger, Willy, Together Not The Same, Banana Jam > Sunflower (Vampire Weekend) > Rogue II, Butterflies, Doc Brown >The Whales
Bis: Around the World (Red Hot Chili Peppers) > Yeti
Escaper | Place Putnum | Saratoga Springs, NY | 05/19/22
set list: Res Magna > No Stings > Breakaway, Cicada, Rare Form, Enjoy the Silence, Spaceship
* This set featured Luke Bemand of Lespecial seated on bass
For more crowd-recorded video and stills from the show, check out NYS photojournalist Zak Radick’s full gallery below: