Honk If You Love Geese

By A. J. UrquidiNovember 2, 2023

Honk If You Love Geese
GEESE with YHWH NAILGUN, Constellation Room, Santa Ana, October 26, 2023.

“Thanks for coming to a Geese show,” singer Cameron Winter addressed us on Thursday night at Santa Ana’s Constellation Room. True, we could’ve been anywhere else—even down the hall, where Gen-X punks simultaneously congregated to hear the Subhumans on the Observatory venue’s main stage. Instead, a gaggle of Geese enjoyers gathered in this glorified anteroom to watch the electrifying youths channel 1970s glam rock via post-punk and, more recently, Americana-country-psychedelia.

Everyone’s catching wind now, but I once thought I was the last guy to discover Geese, months after their 2021 debut Projector released. I finally absorbed it on a spring-break flight to Madison, Wisconsin, a watery town with geese of its own. Above Lake Monona’s frosty shoreline, a plaque marks where Otis Redding’s plane nosedived and snuffed his rising star at 26; I read the goose-shit-garnished bronze argument that Redding’s “loyalty to his Madison fans forced him to” ignore weather warnings and perish en route to his show. He was already becoming a legend then for his soulful delivery; maybe Cameron Winter will too.

My whole trip was soundtracked by Projector; I appreciated how Winter’s impassioned nasal drawl, with the cadence of late-1960s Mick Jagger, accentuated the janky dual-guitar gallop of erratic songs that could’ve otherwise graced the newest Deeper or Omni record. How Jagger Jr. ended up fronting a spiky zoomer group, who in 1979 might’ve opened for Gang of Four, is a mystery.

Projector rocked but still felt timely alongside releases from Geese’s post-Brexitcore (crank wave?) peers across the pond; no coincidence that Dan Carey produced it, the wizard behind Fontaines D.C.’s and Squid’s major works, plus black midi’s paradigm-shifting debut. For this year’s 3D Country and leftovers EP 4D Country, Geese added new backing choirs and passionate ballads, jarringly shifting from Carey’s characteristic 2D post-punk claustrophobia to panoramic, three-dimensional wild-horses stargazing—imagine if Television debuted with Unknown Pleasures, only to follow it by double-releasing Let It Bleed and Exile a year later. Geese stuck that landing; now, these turds-on-the-run have been blowing indieheads’ minds road-testing the material this month.

Brooklyn’s wunderkinds brought their rowdy neighbors YHWH Nailgun to open the O.C. show. Sam Pickard’s drum patterns were idiosyncratic, near-impossible for amateurs to follow—miraculously, guitarist Saguiv Rosenstock and synthmaster Jack Tobias had no problem. Hoodie-obscured vocalizer Zack Borzone immediately shortened the mic stand to three feet so he could loom over it and turn circles like a psychotic toddler confused at tee-ball practice. Each song clocked in under two minutes, and Borzone’s filtered scream-mumbles were so distorted that it was indeterminable by lyrics alone which songs we were hearing. Firing sweatbullets at the front row, the singer slouched and burst like a rabid mandrill, crumpled himself like David Yow willingly entering an active car-crusher. Any decision the band made regarding musical direction was more left-field than the last; it all came off incredibly confident for a band without a single song tracked on setlist.fm. If you like noise rock, these guys should tickle your curiosity.

With their own volcanic live performance after YHWH’s departure, the sexy goslings proved a worthy tribute to their rock-and-soul musical forebears. Winter and keyboard-beefcake Sam Revaz kicked off the show alone with piano-crooner “Domoto,” as guitarist Gus Green, drummer Max Bassin, and bassist Dom DiGesu eventually joined to deliver the song’s marching coda. From there, Geese showcased their sophomore album’s songs, including 3D’s freak-out centerpiece “Undoer.” A new shambler from 4D Country ensued; Marc Bolan jizzed in his grave. So how exactly to describe these ruggedly attractive outcasts’ vibe? Like Freaks and GeeksJason Segel–powered garage band, if they weren’t a bunch of slack-jawed Zeppelin hacks and had hired a Wire-loving keytar player the year the instrument premiered.

After only one Projector callback, a frantic take on its opener, Geese proceeded through 3D’s remaining track list. Absent a gospel choir, they tapped the crowd to perform spirited backup for “I see myseeeeeelf in-a you” and the sing-along chorus of rocker “Cowboy Nudes.” Occasionally manning the electric piano, Winter generously gifted us his whole lungs while his moppy demeanor, shades, and camo pants resembled a committed 2011 Julian Casablan-cosplay. Tragically, Orange County’s WASPy 10:00 curfew dispersed the show after a small encore of “Tomorrow’s Crusades.” With everyone’s spirits so high, you could generously interpret its refrain, “Where would I ever be without you?,” as Geese’s farewell declaration of fan appreciation. Hell, they’re almost as loyal to their audience as Otis Redding was. Returning to my car, I finally felt the way Winter did in 3D’s title track: “What I saw could make a dead man die … I’m goin’ hoooooome.” Even if you’re late to Geese’s glam-savior hype, there’s always room for more in the flock.


Photo by contributor.

LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

A. J. Urquidi is the copydesk chief of Los Angeles Review of Books and co–executive editor of indicia.


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