AG UPDATE

Cryptic Rock – GOO GOO DOLLS BRING JOY TO JONES BEACH, NY 8-13-17 w/ PHILLIP PHILLIPS

By FRANK MALERBA

The scent of BBQs grilling, pool parties, and family road trips, all tell-tale signs that summer is in bloom. Add nights at Jones Beach, one of the east coast’s most famous beaches, enjoying some great music, to the list, and it is a season to remember. Such is the scene each and every year on Long Island when a great lineup of artists grace the stage of the amphitheater now going by the name Northwell Health at Jones Beach. Sure, many artists have come and gone, but how many are synonymous with the location so much that it is almost a given that they will be back each and every summer? Dating back nearly two decades, when they first debuted at the theater on the rain drenched night of August 20th in 1999, Goo Goo Dolls are a Jones Beach tradition. In fact, they have practically played every year since, making them almost honorary Long Islanders!

Keeping with that trend, on the eve of Sunday,August 13, 2017, they returned to Jones Beach on their Long Way Home Tour. A tour which launched July 14th at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA, dates are lined up now through mid-September. Bringing along Phillip Phillips for the ride, Goo Goo Dolls were ready to go as they settled into the comfortable, familiar confines of Jones Beach.

Known to bring along a variety of different artists through the years ranging from Vanessa Carlton to Third Eye Blind, to more recently Collective Soul, the inclusion of Phillip Phillips was an enticing one. Still quite young, at only 26 years of age, Phillips first rose to fame after being crowned the winner of American Idol’s eleventh season back in 2012. Making a splash with his hit debut album, The World from the Side of the Moon, that same year, 2014’s Behind the Light saw a much more mature Phillips take the limelight. Even still, Phillips is growing as a songwriter and could not have been more gracious for the crowd’s attention as he took the stage first.

Immediately grabbing attention, Phillips and his band showed they are much more Rock-n-Roll than Pop as they dished out songs that included “Raging Fire,” “Magnetic,” and “Where We Came From.” Engaging the audience and singing affectionately, Phillips made the most of his set playing other songs like “Don’t Tell Me” before big hits “Home” and “Gone, Gone, Gone.” Strumming his acoustic guitar and creating the feel of a quaint campfire singalong during the fan-favorites, there was a warm feeling that flowed through the air as many joined in during the chorus lines. A talented singer and songwriter, Phillips is currently at work on his third album, and with that, he has so much promise for a lengthy, successful career in modern Folk Rock.

With Phillips’ set concluded, the venue was now packed as everyone anxiously awaited the return of Goo Goo Dolls. As stated, a modern day summer tradition, one is probably wondering, what could warrant wanting to go to see Goo Goo Dolls yet again? Or is the show the same as years past? Well, not exactly. In fact, this veteran Rock band originally from Buffalo, New York have made a living off adapting and evolving throughout their career.
Put together by long-time friends John Rzeznik (vocals, guitar) and Robby Takac (vocals, bass), they started off as a Punk Rock band being as loud and obnoxious as they possibly could. Then, as time went by, they grew as people as well as a band and began to harness influences such as The Replacements into their sound as heard vividly on their 1993 album Superstar Car Wash. A sign of the future, as the mid-90s hit, Goo Goo Dolls hit as well as 1995’s A Boy Named Goo skyrocketed up charts, garnering the band’s full transition into the mainstream radio Rock spectrum.

Finding their stride as songwriters, the true stardom would hit a few years later when the band’s most successful album ever, 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl, peaked all around the world. Did they fade like many other Alternative Rock acts of the time? No, Goo Goo Dolls continued to evolve, pumping out one hit record after another. Now with a music industry in transition, Rzeznik and Takac make the move to keep their sound fresh, collaborating with others and dipping into the popular EP release format. Releasing the EP You Should Be Happy on May 12th via Warner Bros. Records, they offer fans music as quickly as it is being made. Why is this significant to their live shows? Well, it allows them an opportunity to have new music as they hit the road, making the shows that much more interesting. With that, the Goo Goo Dolls came to Jones Beach ready to offer something new.

Starting around 9 PM, with darkness completely engulfing the night, a brighter than the sun light show blinded the audience as Rzeznik, Takac, and their talented live band – Brad Fernquist on guitar/mandolin, Korel Tunador on keyboards/guitar/saxophone, as well as Craig Macintyre on drums – took the stage beginning with the new rocker “Tattered Edge / You Should Be Happy.” Immediately inspiring cheers, the crowd noise reached a higher level as they went into “Home.” A powerful introduction, Rzeznik welcomed the audience, expressing how happy they were to be back at Jones Beach before causing more excitement with the big hit “Slide.”

Early on, there seemed to be a common thread; this show was going to rock hard. Afterall, at their core, Goo Goo Dolls have always been a Hard Rock band. A fact most new age Goo fans have embraced by now, the set went off without a hitch as they went into songs like “Big Machine,” 2016’s “Over and Over,” and the mesmerizing acoustic-laden “Black Balloon.” Always an equal partnership between Rzeznik and Takac, the time came for the rowdy bassist to take on lead vocals and he did just that with “Lucky Star,” “Free of Me,” and, later on, “Already There.” Barefoot and having a blast, Takac was a Punk Rock spark like always.

From there, Rzeznik would speak to the audience in between songs being candid about who he is and what Goo Goo Dolls are. Admitted they were in fact more of an Indie band in their past, he said it all changed with “Name,” and with that, they went into the signature tune. Still as adored as the day it hit big on the radio, “Name” featured tight vocals as Rzeznik offered in years past. A unique voice all his own, he kept his tone strong all night. Softening for tracks like “Come to Me” and “Acoustic # 3,” he revving up for others like “Flat Top” and seldom heard live oldie “We Are the Normal.”

Speaking of pumped up, it would be remiss not to mention that Goo Goo Dolls have always steered clear of alienating their audiences through the years with unnecessary political jargon. Although, Rzeznik, much like the rest of the country, cannot ignore the troubles we face, and much of the lyrical content in songs like the aforementioned “Flat Top” are as relevant as ever. Furthermore, the heartfelt “Better Days” really resonated loudly as Rzeznik sang the words such as “I wish everyone was loved tonight, and somehow stop this endless fight … ’cause tonight’s the night the world begins again.” This was not a call to one side or the other, in fact, Rzeznik specifically said it does not matter what side you are on, offering a unbiased and refreshing outlook to the troubles we face.

At this point, everyone’s emotions were running high and any sense of anger felt prior to the show was erased, even if it was just for the time the band played. Keeping those spirits high, Goo Goo Dolls would wrap up the set with “Broadway,” “Long Way Home,” and mega hit “Iris.” Having the crowding singing, it does not matter how one relates to the words, it is about the power the anthem proves. Ending with yet more loud cheering, the power surge momentarily fizzled out as Goo Goo Dolls bid good night. Returning, the heavenly vibe of “Boxes” closed out the night as Rzeznik walked about the stage singing to the crowd as massive balloons floated down, concluding another memorable Goo Goo Dolls concert experience.

Overall, the show was as entertaining as always, but thanks to Goo Goo Dolls’ ability to keep it fresh, it did not seem like a replay of the years prior. The interjection of the new music and some older back tracks, along with the candid, yet non-polarizing words of Rzeznik, created a sense of unity. The bottomline, most go to a concert to forget about the world for a while, but also to be reminded of the simple things in life. That said, Goo Goo Dolls captured a moment in time that once again sent Long Islanders away smiling and hoping for better days.

Click link for a photo set: Goo Goo Dolls Bring Joy to Jones Beach

Goo Goo Dolls’ John Rzeznik Hosts New SiriusXM Volume show, Chorus and Verse

By Caitlin Carter

Songs have a way of finding you, embedding into your mind and becoming the soundtrack to your life. But how the songs find you—the journey—is quite a process. Sometimes it takes months or even years to get a song just right. Sometimes all it takes a hotel room, a notepad, a pen and a few hours. Every artist approaches the art of songwriting differently. For some it is therapy, others it can be tortuous, and for a few, it is simply a job.

John Rzeznik is the lead vocalist, guitarist and co-founder of The Goo Goo Dolls. Over the past three decades, he has written many songs including chart toppers that have been heard by millions. Eleven albums and over 100 songs later, John is still trying to craft, perfect and push the boundaries of songwriting. In this new SiriusXM show, Chorus and Verse, John sits down with his peers and heroes to dig deep into the songwriting process.

The first episode features an interview with Chad Kroger of Nickleback followed in September by Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20.

Premieres: Monday, August 21 at 7 pm ET

Click the link for a preview.

Chorus and Verse with John Rzeznik

Digital Journal – Review: Goo Goo Dolls rocks the Jones Beach Theater on Long Island

By Mark Papadatos

 

On August 13, Grammy-nominated pop-rock group Goo Goo Dolls headlined the Jones Beach Theater on Long Island, for their “Long Way Home” summer tour.

Singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips (and American Idol Season 11 winner) served as their opening act, and he delivered a killer live set, thus getting the fans excited for the Goo Goo Dolls.

 

They kicked off their set with “Tattered Edge / You Should Be Happy,” which ironically enough is the opening track on their latest EP, released on Warner Bros. Records. They immediately broke into “Home” and such infectious classics as the upbeat “Slide,” and “Big Machine,” where everybody in the crowd was singing along.

 

After “So Alive,” they took their fans on a trip down memory lane to 1999 with “Black Balloon,” which was sheer perfection. Johnny Rzeznik’s voice is still smooth as silk. It was great to hear bassist and co-founder Robby Takac sing lead on “Lucky Star,” and give a well-deserved break to Rzeznik. Takac subsequently showed his soft side on the liberating tune “Free of Me.”

 

Other fan-favorite songs of the evening included the upbeat “Come to Me,” the mid-tempo “Better Days” as well as their smash singles “Name” and the youthful “Broadway.”

 

After “Long Way Home,” they closed with their signature ballad, “Iris,” which felt like the national anthem of the night, earning the band a huge standing ovation.

 

For their encore, the Goo Goo Dolls for one final performance of “Boxes,” which had a fun, summer vibe to it, especially with the beach balls bouncing around the venue.

 

The Verdict

 

Overall, Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac rocked at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh. They deliver at every show that they headline in New York. This is a band that belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their classic hits have molded the 90’s musical decade. Well done guys.

Goo Goo Dolls Rocks the Jones Beach Theater

Billboard – Goo Goo Dolls Get Political at New York Show: ‘We Are Living in Interesting Times’

by Katy Kroll 

The Goo Goo Dolls perform at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Aug. 13, 2017 in Wantagh, N.Y. 

“This is our song tonight,” Goo Goo Dolls singer Johnny Rzeznik told the crowd before playing “Better Days” at the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y., on Aug. 13. With the lyrics “I wish everyone was loved tonight, and somehow stop this endless fight … ’cause tonight’s the night the world begins again,” it was one of two nods during the 90-minute-plus set to the events that unfolded in Charlottesville, N.C., over the weekend.

The other came before “Flat Top,” which references a cultural “war between the cynics and the saints” where “sleeping on the White House lawn never changed a thing.”

“We are living in interesting times, people,” said Rzeznik before playing the track, which is from the 1995 double-platinum-selling album that put the alternative rock band on the map, A Boy Named Goo. “All of the sudden these lyrics are relevant again, with all the strange situations going on in this world — you know what I’m talking about. But whatever side you’re on, I don’t give a f–k.”

There’s nothing like a good dose of nostalgia to take your mind off things, and the trip down memory lane certainly didn’t stop there. The band easily appeased the audience with their biggest hits, including Dizzy Up the Girl classics “Slide,” “Black Balloon” and “Broadway,” as a headband-wearing Rzeznik coolly chewed gum while strumming his guitar. Before busting out their breakthrough hit, 1995’s “Name,” the self-deprecating singer waxed nostalgic for his own version of the ’90s — pre-pop stardom: “We used to travel in a van to hipster bars before there were [so many] hipsters. We were indie rock darlings, and then we wrote this song and f–ked it up and became bitter — and nobody likes that s–t.”

But of course the song many fans were waiting for was “Iris,” the ubiquitous, career-defining 1998 hit that haunts — and maybe even taunts — the band. Saved for the end of the set (but surprisingly not the encore, which came in the form of the title track of their 2016 album Boxes), it seemed like a little dark cloud looming over Rzeznik’s head, when midway through the show he pointed out that people were leaving to take a “piss break” every time the band played a new song.

“You all think, ‘We can take a piss, get a beer and be back in time to here them play “Iris” and then get the f–k out of here,’” he half-jokingly griped before performing “Use Me,” the lead single from their recently released EP — ironically titled You Should Be Happy — before advising, “Reconsider your piss break. This song could change your life.” 

Other pockets of downtime came when bassist Robby Takac took over the mic for four songs, including the only two pre-Goo tracks in the set, “Lucky Star” and “Already There.” There’s no shame in letting another band member take the spotlight for a minute, but the transition from Rzeznik’s laid-back self-confidence to Takac’s bare-footed ball-of-energy attitude was bumpy at best.

And just as Rzeznik predicted, as soon as he strummed the last note of “Iris,” many in the crowd made a beeline for the doors — which makes you wonder a little why they didn’t hold the song for the encore.

Goo Goo Dolls Get Political at New York Show

LIVINGSTON COUNTY NEWS – GAGA FOR GOO GOO DOLLS

By JOE GRANITA
FOR THE LCN

Buffalo’s own “Goo Goo Dolls” took the stage for the ninth time Saturday at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center as the venue celebrates its 25th season.

“American Idol” season 11 winner Phillip Phillips opened for the band.

Lead Singer and guitarist Johnny Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac, both natives of Buffalo, loved performing in front of their hometown fans.

They kicked off their set with “Tattered Edge/You Should Be Happy,” followed by “Home,” “Slide,” and “Big Machine.”

Fans were ecstatic and on their feet as the band played 21 of their hits before returning for their encore, “Boxes.”

Click link for photo set: Gaga for Goo Goo 

Augusta Free Press – Crystal Graham: How the Goo Goo Dolls changed my life

“There’s a moment you’ve been waiting all your live for
When you feel you’ve found a meaning you could die for
And it happens when you seem to least expect it
All at once you come alive and feel connected …”
– “If The World Turned Upside Down” by the Goo Goo Dolls

Three years ago, I went to a concert that in many ways changed my life. It wasn’t about our brush with fame, a single song, our second row seats, or even the guitar picks that I caught in the moment, but it was the start of something that feeds my soul. And the concert, no, maybe the connection, ignited something embedded deep within me on a steamy August night in Harrisonburg.

This journey started innocently enough. American Idol star Chris Daughtry was coming to the local fair, and as huge fans, my husband and I got tickets to the show from his fan club. He was performing with the Goo Goo Dolls.

The venue organizer heard I was a fan and greeted me at the fair on his go-cart with backstage passes – but not to meet Daughtry. Instead, our passes were to meet the Goo Goo Dolls. For anyone who has ever taken part in a meet and greet, you know it’s pretty rushed and there’s no real opportunity to meet the stars, but we stood in line, got our photos and then found our seats and settled in for a night of great music.
While my reason for going to the concert was all about Daughtry and he did not disappoint, the Goo Goo Dolls found a forever fan in me. 

Turns out, I knew a lot more of their songs than I thought, and I found myself falling in love with their live performance. “Broadway” and “Iris” remain two of my favorite songs.
As someone who probably posts a little too much on Facebook, I, of course, came home and followed my new music idols.

Shortly after their concert, I heard on social media that guitarist John Rzeznik from the Goo Goo Dolls was taking part in a walk to stop suicide. 

And that’s where life took a major turn for me. It was the day a couple of musicians connected me with an organization that plays a major role in every day of my life now.

A walk to fight suicide? How had I not heard of this before? My identical twin sister died by suicide when I was 15. For years, I had been trying to find my voice and find a place where I could somehow help save lives. I couldn’t save Tina, but I thought for sure there might be a way to help others who were struggling. And so I turned to Google to connect me with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and an Out of the Darkness Walk.

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one in my community looking to speak out and do something to prevent suicide. Stuarts Draft resident Kim Sours’ daughter, Keri, had also died by suicide. And Kim had just signed up to lead an Out of the Darkness Walk in Staunton, only about 15 miles from where I lived. And so, I jumped in and never looked back.

I helped in areas I know best – marketing and PR – after all, I had run a local PR firm for more than a decade. And together, we surpassed a $25,000 goal and raised nearly $40,000 for our first walk. My “Remembering Tina” team had 60 walkers and raised more than $7,500 for AFSP. As I walked with hundreds of other loss survivors, including dozens of Tina’s high-school friends, I realized that I had found my place – a place where loss survivors could come together and make change – a place where I was not alone. I was no longer the girl that other teens whispered about in the hallway and ran to hide and cry. I was no longer the girl who thought I was the only one who had lost a loved one to suicide. Instead, I was helping lead a walk to fight suicide, standing strong, and proving that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about mental health and depression. The hiding was over. I had found my voice. It was time to prove that talk saves lives.

We were determined to invest the dollars raised at the walk in the local community. So we dug in, organizing ASIST intervention trainings, partnering with others who worked in prevention, making presentations to local schools, getting proclamations for city councils and boards of supervisors, starting a suicide-prevention round table, advocating for more funding for suicide-prevention research, and eventually I was asked to join the State Chapter Board for AFSP.

This became my “second full-time job,” as my husband called it.

Last year, we organized our second walk. Our team, again, was the top fundraising group, and led our local walk. And later, my husband ran in the New York City Marathon, also to benefit AFSP. We were doing our little part to create a culture that is smart about mental health and to find a way to honor Tina’s memory and raise funds for a cause that is 100 percent preventable.

Later, I took part in training to lead a support group for loss survivors and helped plan a Survivor Day event in Staunton. My husband and I also joined a group of local loss survivors and walked 16+ miles in The Overnight this summer in Washington, D.C.

I’m not sure I can adequately thank the Goo Goo Dolls for introducing me to AFSP. But I’ll try. My husband and I are going to their upcoming concert in Virginia Beach. No second row seats or backstage passes this time, but we’ll be there showing support for the group that truly led me down a path that has changed my life, first as a volunteer and now as a full-time job.

I dedicated myself for almost three years as a volunteer to a cause that means the world to me and never expected anything more. A little over four months ago, AFSP asked me to join them again – this time as the Area Director for Virginia – putting my putting my 15+ years of fundraising, marketing and PR expertise into a career dedicated to saving lives. I accepted.

We are now gearing up for our third walk in Staunton on October 21, but I’m also helping lead 11 additional walks throughout the state helping loss survivors make the same connections I did in my first Out of the Darkness Walk.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Somehow, that concert three years ago had less to do with listening to good music and drinking a Bold Rock or two and a lot more to do with my finding my fire, my purpose, my way of doing something positive to remember Tina. Every day, I wake up and dedicate myself to a mission – to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. And it all started three years ago. And it was thanks to the Goo Goo Dolls. So, thank you, John and Robby. And we’ll see you August 25.

And it gets lonely when you live out loud,
When the truth that you seek isn’t in this crowd.
You better find your voice, better make it loud.
We’ve gotta burn that fire or we’ll just burn out.
– “Rebel Beat” by the Goo Goo Dolls
 
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
To find the Out of the Darkness Walk nearest you, visit www.afsp.org/walks
To join or donate to the Remembering Tina team or learn more about the Greater Augusta Out of the Darkness Community Walk, visit afsp.donordrive.com/team/rememberingtina2017
To learn more about the Virginia Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, visit www.afsp.org/virginia

How the Goo Goo Dolls Changed My Life

Rock Music Star – Goo Goo Dolls – Darien Lake PAC, Darien, NY – August 12, 2017

By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.

Darien , NY – The multi-platinum selling band from Buffalo, NY – The Goo Goo Dolls- are the one consistent entity that the citizens of the Western New York area can celebrate, enjoy, and be proud of year after year.  Every time the band performs in WNY, it turns out to be a party-like celebration of their amazing, two-decade long domination of the AOR play charts.  This particular show of their, “Long Way Home,” summer tour was no exception, and dare I say, the Goo Goo Dolls took their usually flawless performance to another level.

The Goo Goo Dolls, duo of John Rzeznik- vocals/guitar, and Robby Takac- bass/vocals, seemed just as excited as the audience to be returning home to perform to an enthusiastic and crowd of 11,000 audience members of all ages.  Their 22-song setlist was a good mix of the mandatory classic hits, plus two tracks from their new EP, ‘You Should Be Happy,’ and five tracks from their 2016 full-length release, ‘Boxes.’

Rzeznik and Takac had a few special surprises for this special show.  For the song,  “We Are the Normal,” they brought up Mary Ramsey from the 10,000 Maniacs to perform viola.  Ramsey performed on the original studio track, which appeared on the 1994 release, ‘Superstar Carwash.’

Rzeznik explained prior to their 1995, breakout hit, “Name,” that the band was just about to call it a day and go off into obscurity, when the song broke out, receiving massive airplay and become a number one hit.  “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for believing in us all these years,” stated Rzeznik.  Then he exclaimed, “This is your song!”  The crowd roared back in approval and delight.

A stunning and rocking version of the hit single, “Broadway,” featured a saxophone solo from the multi-instrumentalist, Korel Tunador.  In addition, Rzeznik added an impressive, Springsteen-like, harmonica solo.

The highlight of the evening was a memorizing, emotional and powerful performance of the HUGE hit #1 single of the 90s, “Iris.”  And just like prior concerts, the crowd passionately sang back every word to Rzeznik.

The Goo Goo Dolls then ended the set with a song that should have been released as a single, “Boxes.”  This track, along with all the newer material, really translated well live.  Blasts from the confetti canon filled the amphitheater as Rzeznik, and the always energetic Takac performed the last notes of another spectacular and memorable Goo Goo Dolls homecoming show.

Goo Goo Dolls Set List 8-12-2017

1.Tattered Edge / You Should Be Happy
2.Home
3.Slide
4.Big Machine
5.Over and Over
6.So Alive
7.Black Balloon
8.Lucky Star
9.Free of Me
10.Use Me
11.Come to Me
12.Name
13.Already There
14.Bringing on the Light
15.Flat Top
16.We Are The Normal
17.Acoustic #3
18.Better Days
19.Broadway
20.Long Way Home
21.Iris
22.Boxes

For more on the Goo Goo Dolls, please visit, www.googoodolls.com

Goo Goo Dolls at Darien Lake

Rock Show Critique – Hometown Show Anything But Normal for Goo Goo Dolls

Concert Review
Goo Goo Dolls
Phillip Phillips
Darien Lake PAC
Darien Center, NY
Saturday August 12, 2017
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto

Once again Buffalo’s own Goo Goo Dolls invaded the Darien Lake PAC Saturday night. The band played the PAC for the ninth time as the venue celebrates its 25th year this season. Touring in support of last years Boxes as well as a recently released EP You Should Be Happy, the band seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Singer and guitarist Johnny Rzeznik along with his cohort bassist Robby Takac both seemed ecstatic to once again be playing in front of their hometown. Rzeznik in particular “We keep meeting here at this place” he exclaimed as he told many stories about the bands’ early days throughout the night.

Following a solid set by opener Phillip Phillips, the band wasted no time digging into the new EP as they kicked off their set with “Tattered Edge/You Should Be Happy”. “Slide” is one song that is guaranteed to get the crowd going with out fail and as usual delivered the goods. “Big Machine” the lone cut played off 2002s Gutterflower promptly followed.

Rzeznik told how they worked at the Continental and around that time had a cult like following around town. He said they always played a lot of shitty clubs and when he wrote this next song all that changed. He thanked the fans for believing in the band all these years. As he strummed the first few chords to “Name” the crowd screamed, “Oh you know it!” he exclaimed.

Rzeznik said when he was going through what songs to play for this tour he came across the lyrics to this next song and said they were relevant again with all that’s taking place in the world. The band dusted it off “Flat Top” and gave it an arousing performance. Until this year the band hadn’t played it on a full tour in quite a number of years.

The big surprise of the night was when Rzeznik called out 10,000 Maniacs singer Mary Ramsey who played viola on “We Are The Normal”. The gem from Superstar Carwash had last been played on the band’s short acoustic tour in 2014 but not in a regular show since 2003.

The band has come a long way from the days of playing places like the Continental and other small local establishments. They paid their dues time and time again in those early days. To see the band evolve into a platinum plus national selling act is dream come true for Rzeznik and Takac. It is something neither takes lightly. They still care on how the fans perceive them. I think most fans walked away from this show with an extra bounce in their step. It was clearly one of the bands’ best performances in front of the hometown faithful to date.

Hometown Show Anything But Normal for Goo Goo Dolls

Gusto – Becoming a Goo Goo Dolls believer at Darien Lake

By Ben Siegel

 

DARIEN CENTER — I’m wearing a Bills helmet as I tell you this. As far as bands go, The Goo Goo Dolls never did it for me.

Go ahead, drown me in loganberry. I’ll wait for my penance.

Let me specify that it’s their music that makes me feel this way. They sound average and generic in my ears. Not bad, though not particularly impressionable. I’m guessing that I’m not the only Buffalonian to feel this way on the inside.

Now, as civic players on Buffalo’s cultural stage, they are my heroes. Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik and bassist Robby “Goo” Takac, both group founders, have made significant philanthropic impact over the years for local art and education causes, homeless services and autism research. They are good guys, through and through, and we are all better because of their success. For that, I love them and all that they are.

But for the rock-and-roller in me, somewhere in there, it always comes down to the music. Right, shouldn’t it?

The Goos played a triumphant homecoming show at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Saturday night. During the show, I heard their music for the first time all over again.

“We keep meeting in this place,” said Rzeznik, recognizing the fact that this Buffalo band was playing outside of Buffalo. He shrugged it off, seeming to imply: “At least we’re together.”

Darien Lake may not be local enough for a true homecoming, but the fans came out and brought their Buffalove.

Kicking things off was Phillip Philips, with a multifaceted rock set that came stuffed with Southern soul, country, bluegrass and rock. His big hit “Home” made a big splash with its clap-happy participation, while his closer “My Name” brought to mind 1990s Soundgarden.

Things really began when the Goos took to their modestly appointed stage, framed by a few lighting towers — a blue-collar gig if ever this venue saw one.

Takac is a wild man on stage, bouncing around with messy, happy energy and bare feet. Does he consume bowls of sugar? And Rzeznik’s blond locks and tattooed arms are the perfect costume for the sensitive rock crooner. They are a great duo.

The Goos’ “Home” didn’t land as well as one would think, but their 1998 hit “Slide” was a home run. Some 20 years off, nostalgia has set in, but this one holds up.

“Over and Over,” from their 2016 album “Boxes,” soared like an anthem. “Turn it on, turn it up, turn it over and start again” makes a great mantra for arena-level singing. Even if it feels generic, it feels good, and patently Rust Belt in its ethos.

The call-and-response “So Alive” is similarly aspirational. Life is about being in the moment, if you’re lucky to have a moment at your disposal. One came with their infectious 1999 hit “Black Balloon,” bags of which fell from the rafters. You don’t know what joy looks like until a huge crowd of adults is given balloons.

Takac took to the mic for the punky “Lucky Star,” from 1993’s “Superstar Car Wash,” among others. Takac’s lead vocals add true club grit, harkening back to the days of Buffalo’s best clubs like The Continental, where Rzeznik worked and the boys played. It must have been a thrill to know them then and to see them now.

Buffalo music legend Mary Ramsey of the 10,000 Maniacs joined the Goos for “We Are the Normal,” written with The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg. What a treat. A string section joined Rzeznik for a luscious “Acoustic #3.”

Here’s where I eat my words. These guys rock, OK? They make simple, honest music that connects and validates.

Everyone needs a soundtrack. They may not have been mine growing up in the suburbs, but as city resident today, in today’s drastically different Buffalo, these are my guys.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you for believing in us all these years,” said Rzeznik before the opening strums of their breakthrough, “Name.” “This is your song.”

To Rzeznik, let me not say “You’re welcome,” but “No, thank you.”

Becoming a Goo Goo Dolls Believer