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Gov Ball 2024, Day 3: Geese are Served Best With a Little Bit of Booze

Updated: Jun 17

Day 3 continues, and we've found ourselves once again in the far reaches of Flushing Meadows Corona Park at the IHG Stage. It had very quickly become my favorite stage of the weekend, hosting several of the more electric performances on the bill, like d4vd and Flo to name a few. But of all the artists billed on that stage, of all the artists billed for the weekend, this was the band I had been looking forward to seeing the most; the definitive American band, Geese.

Now I had been working all weekend, making a conscious effort to keep my drinking to a minimum, not only to save money (festival pricing, amirite?), but also to make sure I didn't make a fool of myself in front of the other members of the media. However, I had been planning to make this set the exception, I needed to be appropriately beer'd up in order to enjoy their set to the fullest. Lucky for me, festival portion sizing is designed for you to drink more and eat less, meaning little plates at every food vendor and tall boys at every bar tent. So, in the interest of making the best use of the time it takes to move across the park from GoPuff to IHG, I decided to hydrate along the way.

Hey, we saw you from across the bar and we hate your vibe. (Photo by Marie Lombardo)

So there I was, standing right up against the stage barricade, nursing a new beer, thinking to myself, 'oh, this is great, this could not be better.' From where I was planted, you could see the band stretching behind stage, which almost distracted from the smell of manure, mud and the metal platform settled into the mud under the barricade. I looked down at my for less than two minutes and when I looked up, the lawn had already filled to capacity behind me.

The Geese crowd was probably the most diverse crowd of a non headliner that I'd seen so far, save for Elyanna playing concurrently on the main stage at that moment. There were all types of people in attendance, old, young, big, tall, Black, White, Hispanic, Arabic, you name it. Not to mention some incredibly creative fans; there was a young woman standing up front next to me in what I thought was an Eagles or Jets jersey. It was a Geese jersey with the band's name stitched across the front, with the number 420 and 'Goosed' stitched on the nameplate on the back. Several of the surrounding fans, myself included, inquired about how to get a hold of one of those (Geese was one of the only bands on the bill not to have anything available at the festival merch tent). It turned out that the jerseys were homemade, she revealed that was friends with Dom DiGesu, bassist, and they had designed it together. As if waiting for the conversation cue, DiGesu and the band that could only be recognized as Geese finally strolled on stage.

The fearsome flock each sauntered calmly and quickly to their respective instruments, getting themselves set and ready for their first song. Cameron Winter, Geese's lead singer, seemed to be the only one having trouble getting himself right. He had tripped slightly over the mic cable as he made his way towards the mic stand. He caught himself, pulled at his shirt and pulled the mic forward. “Hello everybody,” Winter slurred, grasping at the microphone. “We’re very excited, we’re playing Governors Ball today.” 'This is going to be so fucking awesome,' I thought to myself. The drinking I had been doing was already starting to catch up to me and I was ready to hear some sweet, sweet rhythm and blues. Winter tapped the mic twice with his open palm, “Raw, no soundcheck.” Drummer Max Bassin took that as the cue to lead his mighty stage mates into their first song, "Islands of Men." As the band began to play, the clouds parted, the sun finally beating down as Winter beat wildly on the bass drum propped up behind him, like the heavens had been waiting for just such an occasion.

Bassin snuck one last not-so-little, brain bending drum fill in before the song came to an abrupt stop, the perfect end to a set intro befitting only the most American band in the land. “We are SZA’s back up band, thank you all for coming,” Winter giggled to himself. The crowd detonated, caroling in true Geese fashion, with "Geese," "we love you, Geese," and wild honking being hollered and echoed throughout the audience. Wasting no time and harnessing as much of the chaotic energy charging in the crowd as possible, Winter began groaning into the crowd, singing from deep in his throat, creeping into a sharp, scratchy yelp, "God of the sun, I'm taking you down on the inside!"

I lost my mind, I felt like I could've run headfirst through a brick wall, I felt like moving my damn feet, I felt like, like... like I needed another beer! I needed something to help me match the raw, unbridled destructive power that Bassin was exuding behind that kit. I needed that power that felt like it would have sent him crashing through the bottom of that stage as they sprinted through "2122," the intro track from their 2023 smash record, 3D Country. As the flock thrashed about the stage, beating their instruments to near death, all I could think was, 'this is the greatest band I've ever seen.'

You may think, dear reader, that this was just the tall boys talking, that I was clearly consuming this set through my very own set of Gov Ball Beer Goggles (Gov ball, if you're reading this, I would love to chat with y'all about a potential merchandising partnership). But if you would have seen the way they were performing, you'd agree. Lead guitarist Emily Green could make a trash can falling down six flights of concrete stairs sound like Clapton, and I'll be damned if they didn't; they put together a hair-raising (literally, you could feel the static blowing off the stage) feedback solo that would have made Frank Zappa cry. Bassin, oh, Max Bassin, he played like the lovechild of Clyde Stubblefield and Keith Moon, like he was desperate to break his kit on the off chance the label would buy him new snares. But the real unsung hero was keytarist Sam Revaz, shredding-- no, tickling? Correct terminology unclear, but he was destroying it on his pearly white keytar.

Geese ran through a significant chunk of 3D Country, making it through several of the 3D Country fan favorites, i.e., "Mysterious Love," "I See Myself," and “Gravity Blues." You couldn't help but get down, you just had to get moving with those songs back to back to back. It was like getting the perfect shuffle over the speaker and hearing that sweet "oooh" of approval (you know the one) from your friends. After trucking full-speed through an extended version of "Cowboy Nudes," the band took a minute break to rehydrate and chatter amongst themselves. They huddled up momentarily to plot their next move before dispersing to their designated spots on stage. “Yo, we have more time than we thought so we’re going to add a song," Winter announced, which was immediately misinterpreted as an open call for song requests from every corner of the audience. “We’re not doing 'St. Elmo,' we’re trying to make a dime here.”

They ultimately decided on "Jesse," the lead single from their October follow-up EP, 4D Country; another delightful groove-down slow rock song, which, as always, gave the rhythm section plenty of time to shine, this time with a lead-lined bass solo from DiGesu, complimented perfectly by Winter's deep, sullen vocal arrangement. Accompanying DiGesu and Winter on their musical journey through "Jesse" was the rest of the band, each getting yet another solo of their own, leaving Winter with the hefty responsibility of playing rhythm keyboard and singing, faltering just once when a drone flew just bit too close to the stage, prompting him to ask the one burning question we were all asking, “Is that a fucking drone?”

Though they had added it to fill time, "Jesse" was only a placeholder before their final song of the afternoon. Bassin, DiGesu and Revaz lead the band through a slow rhythmic swell as Winter buzzed melodically in tune. As the four were building up, Green was still in the middle of re-tuning and capo-ing their guitar, finishing in the nick of time, as Winter gives out a small "yeah," signaling the entrance for the main riff of "4D Country." God, I'm so glad I was drinking during this set. I've heard these songs a million times now, but hearing them play them live with the summer sun shining down on after a little bit of day drinking? There was no possible way to have a bad day anymore, not one single thing could have fucked up my mood hearing that sweet, twangy little riff sneak in.

Geese took whatever they had left in the tank and juiced it for this song, you could see Bassin drowning in sweat at his kit, the wild charge in Green and DiGesu's eyes as they began strumming, plucking and pulling on their strings with a crazed, reckless abandon, like they were trying to write a solo right then and there that would surpass "Free Bird." Revaz swung wildly from keyboard to keyboard, giving shape to the dissonant cacophony the band was concocting in the final moments of their set. Winter had magically gotten a hold of his sleigh bells, shaking and scraping them across the microphone as he screamed, warbled and mumbled the lyrics. And then, silence; brief, beautiful silence. He took sharp, deep breath in, mounting the sleigh bells atop his head, as Bassin dropped it into next Tuesday, dragging them back into another discordant jam, before they all rounded the corner once again into the main melody.

“Thank you, we’ve been Geese,” Winter quickly motioned for them to start dropping everything. "Goodbye." As they exited the stage single file, their adoring crowd harmonized for one final elongated “Geese" call, one that sounded to be the strongest and most passionate of the day. Everyone turned, sweating, sunburning and giddy with adrenaline, to exchange 'holy shit's and 'how fucking good were they's with their friends, before pivoting swiftly and stampeding away in unison to secure themselves a favorable vantage point back at the main stage. I made my way slowly and steadily, grinning contently and scatting the songs to myself, knowing that I had made some really great decisions that day.

Rob Lucchesi



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