By Gary Graff

DETROIT — Johnny Rzeznik was, by his own admission, a bit dizzy as the Goo Goo Dolls celebrated the 20th anniversary of its multi-platinum “Dizzy Up the Girl” album Thursday night, Oct. 25, at the Fillmore Detroit.

“I’m so (expletive) high…I think I’m hallucinating,” the singer and guitarist told the crowd early in the show — not from rock star indulgence but from medications Rzeznik was taking to overcome a respiratory infection that postponed the Fillmore show from its original Tuesday, Oct. 23, date and caused the cancellation of Wednesday’s concert in Grand Rapids. “Do I sound like I’ve got a cold — ’cause my hair hurts.” he asked later.

The leather-jacketed Rzeznik was, in fact, feeling limited pain throughout the two-hour show. His between-song patter that rambled a bit more loosely than usual as he waxed about divorce, couples therapy, the state of the world and the recent political bombing scare — even tossing a lyrical reference to the latter into “Better Days” — and good-naturedly rejecting fan requests for particular songs. He also shouted out Detroit’s longtime support of the band and remembered an early show at the now-defunct Blondie’s — and the rough neighborhood around the club.  Rzeznik struggled at times and even cut two songs from the planned set list, but his declaration that “my voice sounds like s*** tonight” was a bit overstated.

The good news was that in presenting the Goos’ “Dizzy…” album in its entirety, Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac and company had plenty of singalong help from the Fillmore crowd, which bolstered performances of hits such as “Slide,” “Broadway,” “Black Balloon” and “Iris.” The presentation — in front of a large, framed version of the album’s cover that hovered behind the band — also gave the quintet a chance to haul out less-celebrated album tracks such as “January Friend,” “Bullet Proof,” “Amigone,” “Extra Pale” and “Hate This Place,” all exuberantly performed and enthusiastically received.

The Goos, currently between albums, used the rest of the show to continue the dive into its past, including a welcome four tracks from 1993’s “Superstar Car Wash.” Rzeznik — who stopped the show during “Lucky Star” while Fillmore security tended to a young woman who passed out near the front of the stage — also played a three-song solo acoustic set that included “Better Days,” “Can’t Let It Go” and “Sympathy,” while a ringing rendition of 1995’s “Name,” the Goos’ first bit hit, offered a totem of the group’s transition from bratty punk to polish pop.

The latter was particularly showcased with a late-show rendition of “So Alive,” an anonymous contemporary pop track from 2016’s “Boxes” that stood out — not favorably — against its more substantial setlist neighbors. A rushed encore of “Big Machine” notwithstanding, it was a special kind of show, something Takac noted “we may not do…again” and that was well worth waiting a couple of extra days to see.

A photo set from the show can be found here:


By Kara Love

My dad introduced me to music. He loved The Beatles and Vietnam War protest songs. Something else he loved? The City of Angels soundtrack, specifically “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Having only heard “Iris” and “Name” (off their previous album ‘A Boy Named Goo’), I almost immediately fell in love with Goo Goo Dolls. My first copy of ‘Dizzy Up The Girl’, released in 1998, was played in my room, my parents’ cars, and everywhere I walked (thanks Walkman)!

Twenty years later, I can still sing along with every track. For me, returning to ‘Dizzy’ is like going home – with all the warmth and sadness I’ve come to associate with that. So imagine my reaction when I read the email that asked if I would like to interview John Rzeznik, lead singer and guitarist of Goo Goo Dolls. Hint: I cried. Like, a lot.

After taking a few days to compose myself, I was able to speak on the phone with Rzeznik about their “Dizzy Up The Girl 20th Anniversary Tour”, the importance of family in shaping our lives, and bands he thinks we need to be listening to.

I feel like the meaning of songs can change overtime. Something you may have connected to a personal memory back when you wrote it, might feel different to you now that you have extra perspective on it. Is there any song from the album that you feel differently about now?

Wow, that’s a good question. I think I kind of understand them from a different point of view, yeah. Sometimes when I’m writing a song, I have no idea what I’m writing about. But things are rolling around in my head, and sometimes things just sound really cool… and then the meaning will reveal itself at a later date. I think I really had a moment with “Acoustic #3” when I was playing it in the context of the album, where I realized I had written that song for my mother. I just had this weird feeling when I was playing it, sort of like it really captured her life in a certain moment. You know, she had a hard time and a lot of disappointment. Sometimes you use music like medicine.

Kind of like a written form of therapy?

Yeah, kind of.

You lost both of your parents at a pretty young age. Have any of your other songs from later albums come through to you in a moment of “Oh, this is about my parents?”

Definitely there were other things. The topic of my father’s alcoholism is sort of thinly veiled in a couple songs. I find myself writing now, lyrically, about what it’s like to be a human being in an incredibly confusing world that seems to be getting more unfair and confusing all the time. I worry about what kind of world my daughter’s going to be left in.

You have a two year old, right?

She’s almost two.

Almost two. What kind of music is she into?

I play Michael Jackson for her. And I like playing her 70’s soul and pop, like Gloria Gaynor. That kind of stuff, like disco music. She bobs her little butt up and down [with the music.]

That’s so cute!

She’s adorable.

You’re about to play 3 nights in Buffalo, your hometown. “Broadway” was originally written about how it was kind of a decaying town. Everyone was moving, the jobs were moving, and it was kind of a bleak picture. How do you feel about Buffalo now? Has it improved?

Buffalo is going through an enormous renaissance. When I wrote that song, it was pretty bleak there. But it’s reinvented itself; it’s prospering. It’s beautiful. It’s someplace where I would be perfectly content living for the rest of my life… but I live in New Jersey.

[Laughing] “I would like to live in Buffalo, but I don’t.”

[Laughs] I would love to live in Buffalo, but my wife’s mom lives with us and she does a lot of the heavy lifting with my daughter. I want my daughter to have that family.

Is your wife’s mom a Jersey girl?

She’s from Argentina, so she speaks Spanish to the baby. She doesn’t speak English to her, only Spanish. The baby just loves her. She’s an important person in our lives, and we love her very much.

I think it’s great to have multiple generations taking care of children.

I agree. My family lives in Buffalo; we’re always flying them down or flying up there so that my family gets represented pretty well in the situation too. I want Lily to know my sisters because they’re really smart, but they’re also like a tribe of women. I want her to have a big tribe of women to teach her everything. My sisters are very smart and they’re very, very funny. I think that they’re going to be a really good influence on her. [pauses] Or a really bad influence, but that’ll give her character.

So, Goo Goo Dolls has had music featured in numerous movies and TV shows, but obviously your most famous is… [dramatic pause] “I’m Awake Now” from Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

That is not the most famous one. [laughs] Wow.

I know, I know, it’s “Iris.” But I was wondering, since it’s October – in the spirit on Halloween, what’s your favorite scary movie?

My favorite scary movie? I’ve gotta think… Well what I consider scary, I can’t watch slasher movies or Halloween-type movies. The kind of movies that scare me are like documentaries about the financial collapse. That’s my idea of a terrifying movie. Anything that affects the real world terrifies me.

That’s too scary for me to watch.

Yeah, see. See? Who’s scared now?

[laughs] So you like to force yourself to watch documentaries about how bleak everything is?

Anything that promotes a fit of anxiety and motivates me to work harder, I’m in. When Lily was born, I said two things to myself right there as they put her in my hands for the first time, “One, don’t fuck this person’s life up. And two, you better work way harder than you have been.” And those are my two rules.

I think those are great rules. I have daughters of my own, and that’s how I try approach it. I need to make this world better for them.

Like what they’re going to be dealing with… I don’t know. It certainly has forced me into the person I should have been all along. Where like I used to be slack about things… nope. Gotta make that bed in the morning, gotta shower!

In an interview with Billboard this summer, they asked what you were listening to. Personally, I love pretty much everything you listed: Atlas Genius, Fitz and the Tantrums, Arctic Monkeys. A lot of our readers are interested in finding new artists that haven’t been broken yet. So I wonder, what are some artists who you’re listening to that we may not have heard of yet?

There’s this really kind of hypnotic rock music [from] this band Small Black that I really like. And a band called Day Wave, which I think in the next couple years are going to do something really special. I love it; it’s got this very liquid sort of feel to it. Very like… swirling, and reverbs, and delays, and things. And the voice is very breathy. There’s also a guy and a girl called Oh Wonder.

Oh, I love Oh Wonder!

Yeah, I really love them. It’s sappy, but I love it. I love the purity of the recordings. It’s them; it’s just them. I dig it, but I’m a sap for a good love song.

So, you haven’t touched some of the songs on this album since the time it was released. You said you’re feeling more [emotions] about “Acoustic #3”, you’ve made that connection with your mom’s life. Is there a song that, as a band, you’ve all really had fun revisiting?

There’s a lot of songs. There’s a song called “All Eyes On Me” which is really like this rock epic. I wanted to write a rock epic and was like, “I’m doing it! I’m gonna write this in three parts. It’s gonna be a big deal.” And I did that, and it was cool.

I’m very excited to see it [live.] It’s almost like a concert in two parts, so you’re playing straight through the album and then you have special treats at the end of it like different singles. Do you have any new stuff that you’re working on that we’ll hear?

Nooo, no no no. No. Never bring a new song out that people haven’t heard before. It could be the greatest song you’ve ever written, but if people don’t know it they’ll go, “What the hell is that? Why are they playing that song? What is that?” So I learned the hard way not to play new material in front of people.

Well maybe I’m one of the few people that disagree. I’m excited when I hear something new.

[laughs] Well, you’re in the minority.

The Goo Goo Dolls are on the road for several more weeks in support of Dizzy Up the Girl’s 20th anniversary, catch them in your city! Full list of tour stops and tickets can be found here.


Live Music Reporter Devon Seaman had a one on one phone interview with John Rzeznik, the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls.

D: Alright, so you guys have your 20th anniversary tour for the album “Dizzy Up the Girl” coming on.

J: Uh huh.

D: And how’s that been going?

J: Um, every show has been sold out. Most of them are sold out I think, but I think there are still some tickets left for Kansas City. It’s been a lot of fun to play these smaller shows for our really hardcore fans.

D: I do have to say that you’re fulfilling a high school fantasy of mine just by talking to me today. (laughter)

J: Thank you. I appreciate that.

D: So a little bit about the album. If ever there were an album to represent the sound of the late 90’s pop rock, you definitely made it.

J: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

D: I feel the show is not only going to be geared towards people of my generation, but also the younger generation.  It timeless music.

J: I’m actually surprised to see some teenagers and some in their early twenties showing up at these shows. You know, it’s exciting.

D: How did you come up with the name for the album?

J: “Dizzy Up the Girl?” Well, I’m going to tell you, the honest to God truth. I was driving…. (sound of a baby heard in the background) oh, you got a little baby!

D: Yeah, he’s playing in the back. Sorry.

J: No, that’s awesome! I love kids! Um, I was driving down a street in Los Angeles and I was just rolling down the road and I hit a speed bump and my whole car just went “ba-dum-boom-boom-boom-boom.” And literally that title it just like popped out of my mouth. Right at that point. That’s how I got the title for the album.

D: So it was your exclamation? (laughter)

J: I was like “dizzy up the girl!….what’s going on here?” Now that’s literally how the title came into my head. I rolled over a speed bump and, you know, it jarred it loose. (laughter)

D: That’s always a fun story. I mean, hey it worked! Now, is there a specific song on the album that has more of a special meaning to you than the others?

J: I mean “Iris” was just a huge song and that was when I felt like my songwriting had hit a point where I was like ‘ok, I’m starting to hit a touch of legitimacy in what I do.’ You know? Um, “Acoustic #3”….

D: That’s one of my favorites.

J: …which you know, sort of speaks about my mother. That was sort of the situation. Being even in like the 70’s when-  you know women wanted to get a divorce, it was kind of different back then. There was a lot of shame attached to it. I grew up in very catholic house; a very catholic neighborhood. You know, and my mother had to leave my father. And uh, she was shamed for it.

D: I get it. There were a lot of expectations back then and there was a certain way that people did things. That’s pretty brave that she did end up leaving him.

J: It’s sad because I loved my dad. He had his problems, but he had a good heart.

D: Sometimes things just don’t work out. That’s how life is and honestly that makes for some of the best songs ever written. Just being able to put your heart out there and have others’ receive it.

J: I think the weirdest thing about “Dizzy Up the Girl” is it was one of those records where it was all written around the same time. So I started to notice these themes running through it. Not that it was a concept album or that it was meant to be played as one piece, but the songs are about that specific time in my life and they are pretty personal. Even if they are a little bleak. You know, at times it’s just room for interpretation which is something that I love putting in my lyrics is a bit of room for people to interpret it their own way and make the song their own. That’s something that you aren’t supposed to do in music anymore. You’re supposed to be very direct. Very direct. Like, I’m doing this and I’m doing that.

D: It doesn’t enable the listener to really think.

J: No…no, you know, I mean. I hate it.

D: Now how long did it take you to write the album?

J: That was written over about a 4…5…6 month period, maybe.

D: Is that usual?

J: I learned to work a lot faster over the past 20 years. You know, now the way the world is working, it’s so quick. It’s like you gotta keep moving, you know? I haven’t had a vacation in years.

D: Especially now that you’re a father – which congratulations!

J: Thank you.

D: Are you loving life?

J: I love it, but I’m tired. How old is your son?

D: He’s actually not my son. I’m a nanny.

J: Oh, you’re a nanny?

D: I am.

J: That’s awesome!

D: It’s a little boy. He just turned one in September so it’s pretty fun.

J: Aww, that’s cute. That’s awesome.

D: I mean, it’s a great age just to see them grow and develop.

J: They’re so sweet. My daughter is just entering….she’s going to be two in December and it’s showed up early. I’m like “oh my god….god forgive me for the things I’m thinking about this kid…”

D: (laughter) They test your patience, that’s for sure.

J: Oh my god, they push the lines! And you know, you’re like ‘I gotta go to the book and see what it says’

D: (laughter) Sadly, there is no manual that comes with a baby. You just kind of have to do it to the best of your ability.

J: Yeah, I mean because I know what happened to me when I got out of line. You got the “pow-pow”.

D: I grew up in that era as well.

J: Oh and there’s no “pow-pow” anymore.

D: Oh no, things are so different these days and I was actually meaning to ask you- you know, it is a scary time to be raising a child, a daughter in particular, with our current political climate. Did you have any reservations when you decided that you wanted to have kids?

J: Did I have any reservations as far as like….well, as far as what?

D: Well, nowadays people are choosing not to have children because they don’t want to bring them into the world around us right now.

J: Yeah, I used to think that I would never have kids. You know, but I was lucky enough to meet a really beautiful, strong woman and we were together for ten years before, well ten, twelve years before we decided to do it and she’s been with me through the worst time in my life….and the best. Now we’re living the best part of our lives and it’s like I never ever wanted to have kids, but my life feels so much bigger. And on one side it’s terrifying that she going to grow up in it, but on the other side – what’s the potential, you know? I mean, there is potential and you know I don’t get into politics very much anymore – I used to, but the gloves are off and it’s not fun anymore.

D: I know, it’s terrifying.

J: It is terrifying, I mean the supreme court thing – that’s what has worried me the most. The supreme court is political appointees basically and I just don’t see the balance. Anybody can be a very very neutral jurist, but I just don’t know. Because your moral, your values, your beliefs are going to influence your interpretation of the constitution and the laws of the country. I completely believe in a woman’s right to choose and I grew up in a house full of women and I was the only boy. By default, I got stuck being a feminist whether I wanted to be or not. (laughter) You know, I hated girls!

D: (laughter) But you understand us so much more now…

J: Ehhh, no. (laughter)

D: (laughter) still a mystery

J: No, no women are these amazing, beautiful things with too many moving parts. I don’t know, it’s always a mystery. I guess that’s why I love ‘em too.

D: Well it sounds like you found a pretty great partner in your wife.

J: She’s strong you know, she’s strong. She’s ok with me being gone.

D: So they don’t travel with you when you’re on tour?

J: Sometimes. Sometimes. She (Lili) is getting old enough to come with us, but then it’s exhausting. She’s wakes up at 6:30 and she stares right in my face and says “Hi Daddy”. (laughter) Uh oh! – you’re getting up and she wants breakfast and then our favorite game when we’re traveling is I bought one of those big red kickballs you know the ones that make that sound, “donk!” And she loves this ball so her favorite game is to go out in the hallway of the hotel and I kick the ball down the hallway and she chases it. And we just go back and forth and back and forth kicking this ball.

D: Wear her out for naptime!

J: Wear ME out for naptime! (laughter)

D: So now, with her being almost 2, does she have a favorite song that she likes to hear?

J: No. You know, she came to a show and she actually stayed up long enough to see the show. And when she’s angry or scared she opens her eyes up really wide and she balls up her fists like she’s going to punch you or something. And she looks at me and she gave me the fists and I’m like “what?!” I’m right in the middle of the show and I’m like “what are you doing to dad? What’s wrong with you, kid?” (laughter)

D: I guess that’s not what she wanted to hear right then, dad. (laughter) So with you having the daddy- fever and everything, are you interested in writing for anymore family features like you did with Treasure Planet?

J: I mean, if somebody offered me something, yeah. And you know, I don’t want to exploit my daughter in writing music. I don’t think I’m gonna be….they call it “daddy-rock.” And I’m just like “nah, I don’t think so.”

D: It’s not uncommon for musicians to come out with a lullaby album after they’ve had some kids.

J: Well, it depends on my financial situation, but you know. I never say no to nothin. (laughter)

D: It’s been a decade since you were inducted into the songwriters’ hall of fame. Which is a very prestigious honor and certainly validation to your musical abilities. And most accomplished musicians have a good story about the moment they’ve realized they “made it.” So what’s your story?

J: When I realized I made it?

D: Uh huh.

J: Um, when I was standing in front of Mount Rushmore and I got a phone call from my business manager, my accountant and he said “why didn’t you tell me you never paid your student loans back?” (laughter) and I was like “cause I never planned on paying them back.” And he’s like “No, no, no, no. You’re officially middle class now. You are paying off your student loans!” (laughter) And then he hung up on me. I’m like “ wow, I actually had the money to pay back my student loans. That’s cool.”

D: (laughter) I mean, that is definitely a “made it” moment if I’ve ever heard one.

J: Listen, you know you’ve made it if you’ve paid off your student loans. (laughter)

D: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.

J: Right on. It was nice talking to you.

D: Well, you guys have a wonderful rest of your day and we look forward to seeing you October 28th at the Uptown.

J: Thank you.

The Chicago Tribune – The Goo Goo Dolls forged a renewed relationship from the ashes of a legit disaster

By Steve Knopper

By 2014, the 34-year friendship between John Rzeznik and Robby Takac had frayed to the point of zero communication. That was a problem since they were still playing in the same band, the Goo Goo Dolls, which had peaked in the ’90s with the MTV hits “Name” and “Iris.” “I don’t think we ever stopped caring about each other,” Rzeznik recalls, in a 15-minute phone interview from a Boston tour stop. “But there were points in time where he was a disaster and I couldn’t deal with it, and there were points in time where I was a disaster and he couldn’t deal with me.”

For Rzeznik, who is married and has a nearly 2-year-old daughter, the change-my-life moment came in November 2014, when he drank himself into unconsciousness. Upon reawakening, he checked himself into a rehab center and spent three months getting sober. “I got away from everything and everybody until I felt like I could function,” he says. “And then I called (Takac) on the phone and said, ‘I want to meet you and talk to you.’ I apologized for my part of what went wrong in our relationship and he apologized for his part and then it was sort of left behind.”

Since that crucial healing period, the Goo Goo Dolls have put out 2016’s “Boxes” and this year’s live “The Audience Is Way.” For its new tour the band is revisiting a 20-year-old album, “Dizzy Up the Girl,” the result of a difficult period of attempting to follow up the smash success of “Name.” The album with the young woman lying face down on the bed in a dress on the cover was full of pop hits that were written in surprisingly complicated ways, beginning with the ballad “Iris.”

“The songs on that record don’t sound like it, but the guitar parts are deceptively hard,” Rzeznik says. “I sat and listened to the album and I’m like, ‘Oh, I know what I did there.’ … It helped me understand my process of writing a lot better, sitting there relearning these songs. It’s like closing the door on a part of us — once it’s done, you carefully, lovingly put it away, and move on.”

Rzeznik grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., with a father who was an abusive alcoholic and a mother who was, as he once told the Buffalo News, a “German disciplinarian.” He had a tough childhood, but discovered music at age 13, first by playing the accordion for exactly one week, then shifting to an electric guitar and amplifier his mother had bought him. Then his father had a heart attack and died of pneumonia in the hospital; his mother died of a heart attack a year later.

At 16, he coped by playing obsessively, then hooked up with Takac to form the Sex Maggotts, which morphed into the Goo Goo Dolls. They specialized in fast-and-loud punk rock, spicing up their early albums with covers of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper.” On 1989’s “Jed,” Rzeznik took over from Takac on lead vocals.

“There was a moment where I got brave enough to go up and get in front of a microphone. I’d been in the studio and I’d had a few drinks. And I started singing all the songs I was writing, over time,” Rzeznik recalls. “I was doing that for a couple of years, and I had to start taking singing lessons because I would lose my voice every other day, just screaming as hard as I could.”

After another couple of albums, the band shifted directions, and Rzeznik began to write more acoustic, catchy pop songs that were easier on his voice — one of his first such compositions was 1995’s “Name,” a slick, soulful smash in an era of gritty grunge and metal. “I just followed my own lead. I got really sick of playing just, like, ‘Bop-bop-bop-bada-bop-bop-bada-rapa-pah,'” he says, imitating the rhythmic sounds of punk bands. “Just playing that 190-beats-per-minute punk-rock songs, I didn’t feel it anymore. And I always loved melody — when you looked back on those early records, there’s always a hook buried in there somewhere.

“We took some s— for it, but who cares?” he continues. “I wanted to say something. I was just like, ‘You know what? I’ve got to do what I do.'”

The Dolls peaked commercially in the late ’90s, then started to droop when 2002’s “Gutterflower” sold disappointingly and bands like Train and Maroon 5 began to do similar mixtures of pop and rock with younger faces on the album covers. They were always a strong concert draw, though, and the Rzeznik-Takac partnership survived a lengthy difficult period. The band had moved from New York to Los Angeles just before recording “Dizzy Up the Girl,” but Takac returned to the East Coast in 2005 and Rzeznik landed in Westfield, N.J., 10 years later.

“In the time since I’ve gotten sober, we’ve put out two albums and I built a house and did a couple of tours and had a daughter who’s going to be 2,” Rzeznik says. “And my friend Robby actually calls me to say hi.”

Steve Knopper is a freelance writer.

Twitter @chitribent


Concert Review
Goo Goo Dolls
Shea’s Performing Arts Center
Buffalo, NY
Sunday Roctober 21, 2018
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto

Sunday evening the Goo Goo Dolls capped off a completely sold out three night stand at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The band is currently on the road celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their biggest selling album to-date Dizzy Up The Girl. That album sold over 4 million records and is very special to guitarist, vocalist Johnny Rzeznik and his musical cohort Robby Takac.

This date was not on the original tour announcement as there was a initially a Toronto date scheduled for this date. After the first two shows sold out as fast as they did, it was a no-brainer with Shea’s having an open date for Sunday to add a third show. It was also no coincidence that the third night sold out as well. The band could have easily played a full week at Shea’s and ended with the same result.

The first set featured Dizzy Up The Girl played in order in its entirety. “Dizzy” kicked things off as the band made a triumphant return to the stage. Rzeznik’s guitar didn’t turn on so he welcomed everyone to night three. Once the problem was resolved the famous chords of “Slide” sent the crowd into a frenzy, like it always does. The sound was impeccable. Just as good as their fabulous show inside the Bears Den a few years back. Continuing on with “Broadway”, left the crowd begging for more, which they got and then some.

The band played all the big songs such as “Black Balloon” and the smash “Iris” but it was on the obscure songs like “Bulletproof” and Takac’s “January Friend” where the band really shone.

The band ended the first set and came back out to deliver a set featuring quite a few songs that haven’t seen many set lists over the more recent years. Refreshing versions of “Fallin’ Down”, “There You Are” and “Stop The World” satisfied many of the fans who were with the band since day one.

Rzeznik and Takac couldn’t pull this off without an extremely talented backing band. Joining them were newest touring member, keyboardist Jim McGorman, drummer Craig McIntyre and guitarist Brad Fernquist who has been with the band since 2006 when he joined the band for the Let Love In tour.

While this was not the first time the band played a set of show’s at Shea’s (1999), these shows over the weekend will be remembered best for how much love their hometown showed the Goo Goo Dolls and vice versa. Playing an intimate theater such as the historic Shea’s, with its pristine acoustics and cozy interior brought a uniqueness you just don’t get at KeyBank Center or Darien Lake. Following the success of these shows let’s hope they do it again real soon.

Set List

Set One- Dizzy Up The Girl

January Friend
Black Balloon
Bullet Proof
All Eyes on Me
Full Forever
Acoustic #3
Extra Pale
Hate This Place

Set Two

Better Days
Can’t Let It Go
Two Days in February
Fallin’ Down
Lucky Star
Stop the World
So Alive
Another Second Time Around
There You Are
Big Machine
Flat Top


Goo Goo Dolls wax nostalgic, think forward in 20th anniversary album tour

By Christopher Panella

“It’s a 20-year-old album, what the f***? On one hand, it’s cool that it’s held up,” lead singer and guitarist of the Goo Goo Dolls Johnny Rzeznik said to a packed audience at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.
“On the other hand, it’s like, ‘You’re old Johnny, what the f***?’ But what am I gonna do? B**** about it?”

In that moment, it became clear that the Goo Goo Dolls, who came together over 30 years ago, are younger than ever. On a tour commemorating the 20th anniversary of its most critically and commercially successful album, “Dizzy Up the Girl” (1998), the band has showcased an energy that caters to fans old and new.

The Goo Goo Dolls’ performance at the House of Blues was the 13th stop on their tour, in which their setlist includes the entirety of “Dizzy Up the Girl.” Robby Takac, the band’s other vocalist and bassist, noted that this tour is different from any the band has ever done.

“We knew we were going to come out and play the whole album first — that was going to be the first thing we did,” Takac said. “And then we thought we had two ways to go about it after. We could go out and nail [the audience] with a few hits and be out of there, or we could go deep, deep, deep. Nervously, going deep is what we decided to.”

The depth of the Goo Goo Dolls’ discography is astounding: 11 studio albums, a string of singles and 34 music videos. The band has produced decades of musical content, including global success “Iris,” one of the top hits of the 1990s. The Goo Goo Dolls’ lesser-known hits include “Two Days in February” and “There You Are.” The band’s “Dizzy Up the Girl” anniversary tour explores the whole breadth of its music, providing a strong variety for fans to enjoy.

“We actually close the show with our first single we ever put out, which is pretty wild,” Takac said. “It’s actually the song people know the least, but by that point, we’ve dragged them along that far where it’s just a big party. Everyone’s having a good time at the point.”

By its conclusion on Wednesday, the concert truly was one massive celebration, packed with generations of fans screaming lyrics, dancing and simply enjoying the band’s infectious energy. The stage was set simply during the Goo Goo Dolls’ first set, a top-to-bottom performance of “Dizzy Up the Girl.” While the band was truly the centerpiece, a large framed version of the album cover hung behind them.

The Goo Goo Dolls aimed for authenticity in their performance of “Dizzy Up the Girl,” as Takac shared the context in which the album was produced.

“We play it the way it originally sounded,” Takac said. “Between ‘A Boy Named Goo’ [1995] and ‘Dizzy Up the Girl,’ Johnny had written ‘Iris’ for the ‘City of Angels’ [1998] soundtrack, which also had Sarah McLachlan and Alanis Morissette. We didn’t expect to get much notice from that situation, but our song ended up being one of the biggest on that record. We were walking into making ‘Dizzy Up the Girl’ already knowing that ‘Iris’ would be on the record and was already … a hit, so we definitely had a different vision of what was going on. And guys from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were hanging around in the studio and Snoop Dogg was down the hall with Dr. Dre, so our world was much different than it was prior to that record, for sure.”

Fast forward 20 years, and the making of “Dizzy Up the Girl” is still cemented in the band’s mind, as are memories of the ever-changing relationship between its founding members, Rzeznik and Takac.

“[Our relationship] has changed as drastically as we have as people, and both of us are drastically different people than when we were 19 years old,” Takac said. “Some of the craziness that was in our lives in the years past has been removed through various stages, and I think it’s one of the reasons why we’re still here and still able to throw down. I really feel like our relationship is as solid as it’s ever been.”

Takac said that the Goo Goo Dolls’ music-making process has also changed significantly.
“You probably couldn’t even recognize us as the same band from our first record,” he said. “Johnny didn’t even sing on our first record, quite honestly. We were a much different band. But we’re in a different place than a lot of people, and we grew up in the public eye. We were being documented musically, and in the first 10 years, we were still trying to figure out how to do it. In the process of that, we were learning to do it in front of people.”

After 30 years of maturity in the music industry, Rzeznik and Takac are now clearly masters of their craft, engaging the audience at every chance possible. In between songs on Wednesday, Rzeznik bantered with the band’s fans, talking about Boston and the Goo Goo Dolls’ history with the city.
“Boston is the first place outside of Buffalo we ever played,” Rzeznik said. “We were f***ing terrified of you people.”

At the end of its performance of “Dizzy Up the Girl,” the band briefly disappeared, while the framed album cover was taken down and a virtual screen was set up. Rzeznik returned to the stage, performing some older hits with a virtual version of himself. Virtual Rzeznik and real Rzeznik had a funny banter, with the former sometimes playing the guitar while the latter sang. It was a light-hearted break in the concert, adding a touch of the future to the band’s timeless performance.

The audience enjoyed every moment, laughing with Rzeznik and Takac and rocking to every song as the Goo Goo Dolls finished out the concert with some of their older hits and a spotlight of their touring band members. At one point, Rzeznik casually tuned his guitar during one of the songs. It is this simple humanity that makes the Goo Goo Dolls accessible and understandable — sure, they are performers, but they are people too.

As for the band’s future, Takac revealed that a new album is on its way.
“We’ve got about half of it written, maybe a little bit more,” he said. “We have another live release coming out, too. Very, very soon, we [will] have a huge announcement about something we’re doing next summer, and that’ll be exciting.”

While there is great anticipation for the Goo Goo Dolls’ next steps,  their “Dizzy Up the Girl” 20th anniversary tour is nothing short of nostalgic — a perfect blend of old hits, fan favorites and all-around fantastic live performing. It is a reminder that the band is still growing, still learning and always ready to put on a crowd-pleasing performance.


Goos stop home for three sold-out shows on national tour

It was nothing but smiles from Goo Goo Dolls’ founders Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac Friday night at their first of three sold-out shows at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.

The band celebrated the 20th anniversary of its quadruple-platinum selling album “Dizzy Up the Girl” with a national tour. Of course, the Goos took some time to stop back home and thank their fans for making it all possible.

Over the course of a two-hour set, the band played its hit album top to bottom while revisiting deep tracks and hits from other records. A giant framed picture of the “Dizzy” album cover hung behind the band as members jumped around the stage.

Backed by Brad Fernquist on guitar, mandolin and vocals; Jim McGorman, on keyboards and vocals; and Craig Macintyre on drums, the band delivered an energetic yet intimate show for hometown fans.

Walking out to a standing ovation, the band kicked things off with “Dizzy” and transitioned into the Billboard top-10 hit “Slide.” Before starting the third song of the night “Broadway” –– Rzeznik’s reflection of growing up on the East Side of Buffalo –– Rzeznik took some time to reminisce about the album.

“It has been 20 years since we put this record [out] and that’s cool. On one hand we made a record that’s pretty durable, on the other hand we got f–––––g old. It’s OK, I don’t feel old, I’m not acting old, I just want to play my f–––––g music,” Rzeznik said.

Rzeznik then passed the mic to Takac for the garage band grunge hit “January Friend.” Takac –– who has added to his local fame with the creation of the Music Is Art foundation in 2003 –– got fans jumping up and down while rocking out to the up-tempo jam.

Fans rejoiced as the band played its first ballad of the night “Black Balloon,” which found the crowd singing along and tossing black balloons around the theater as they fell from the ceiling. A local string section joined them on stage, giving the song an extra emotional punch.

During the song, Rzeznik tried to get the crowd to sing along, shouting “Look alive guys, we’re filming this!” indicating the band is making a concert film.

The Goos continued to play through the album, eventually playing their much-anticipated hit song “Iris.” Once again, backed by the string quartet, the band members poured their hearts out into the performance and engaged in an epic call-and-response with the audience.

After finishing up the album, Rzeznik took to the stage alone for a gimmicky performance with a virtual version of himself pre-recorded on a TV screen. After acoustic versions of “Better Days,” “Can’t Let It Go” and “Two Days in February” Takac and the band rejoined him on stage to finish out the night with more hits and the occasional deep track.

Before playing 1995 breakout hit “Name,” Rzeznik recalled living in an apartment on Norwood Avenue, turning 30-years-old. He described wanting to do anything possible to get out of Buffalo, and ended up writing the fluke hit that shot them to stardom.

“I was sitting on a third-hand couch on a fourth-hand carpet in an attic on Norwood Ave. praying to get out of this s––thole,” Rzeznik said. “Then I wrote this song and suddenly I had some cash, which I used to pay off my student loans. I don’t think we started looking any better but a lot more girls started showing up to our shows … Thanks for keeping the gas in the tank for this band.”

After “Name,” the band belted out “So Alive,” a more-recent single with a music video shot entirely in Buffalo. The song, which has been featured in local commercials, was once again supported with a singalong from the crowd.

With the deep track “Notbroken,” Rzeznik reflected on his 2010 flop-of-an-album “Something for the Rest of Us.” Although record producers didn’t want to release the album, Rzeznik said he insisted on releasing it regardless of whether it was a success or not.

“Well they were right … it was a flop,” Rzeznik said. “But we’re still here playing music for you guys and that producer, he’s gone.”

The Goos closed the performance with “There You Are” before being called back on stage to continue playing. With a red “716” flag in hand, Rzeznik and Takac thanked their fans for supporting them for more than 30 years.

They closed out the night with “Big Machine” and “Flat Top” before packing up until their second performance of the weekend.

As fans left the theater, many stopped to pose under its giant illuminated marquee, which read “On stage tonight Goo Goo Dolls Dizzy Up The Girl 2018.”

Max Kalnitz is the senior news editor and can be reached at and on Twitter @Max_Kalnitz


Review / photos by Thomas S. Orwat Jr. 
(more photos to be published on Monday afternoon)

Buffalo, NY – The multi-platinum music kings of Buffalo, NY, the Goo Goo Dolls returned home to perform their first night of three consecutive sold-out shows on their ‘Dizzy Up The Girl’ 20th Anniversary’ tour. (When the band originally toured for this release, they had also played three sold-out dates at Shea’s in December of 1999.) These three shows are being filmed for a future feature.

This highly anticipated performance certainly lived up to the hype, and was extra special because it was in a much more intimate venue – Shea’s Performing Arts Center, which has a capacity about 3000, as opposed to were the band usually plays – Darien Lake PAC, with capacity of 21,000.

The Goo Goo Dolls hit the stage at 8:30 pm, 30 minutes late. The audience was getting a bit restless, but when the house lights went down, and the band kicked into the first track, “Dizzy” the audience put down their phones and stood up from their seats, and for the next 2 hours remained standing and cheering on their hometown heroes.

Band members John Rzeznik (guitar/vocals) and Robby Takac (bass/vocals), along with hired guns Brad Fernquist (guitar), Craig Macintyre -(drums) and new member Jim McGorman (keyboards), were focused, energetic, and musically brilliant throughout their set, which consisted of the entire ‘Dizzy up The Girl’ release, plus a second set of hits mixed with many rarely played fan favorites.

With the first half of the show dedicated to ‘Dizzy Up The Girl,’  which was released on September 22, 1998, sold over 4 million, and consisted of 5 chart singles, you could really sense that most people in the audience were familiar with not only the hits, but the seldom played songs from that release as well.

Watching the band perform the entire ‘Dizzy Up The Girl’ record live gave a new appreciation to the brilliance of the well crafted songs and profound lyrics.  The first track, “Dizzy” followed up by the radio smashes “Slide” and “Broadway” sent the audience, which consisted of fans from young to old, into a near frenzy.

Goo Goo Doll’s songwriting genius, John Rzeznik, is a true perfectionist and was especially intense during this evening.  Although, he seemed a bit irritated by some issues he had with the monitor mix and a missed cue by one of the hired guns, Rzeznik didn’t smile that much, at least during the first half of the show, but delivered an unforgettable and passionate performance both vocally and musically.

And while Rzeznik played the role of the focused leader, Takac was the more jovial one, bouncing and running around the stage with his animated facial expressions, playing and singing his heart out. His raspy voice is the perfect complement to Rzeznik’s smooth vocals, and his songs, while not the huge hits, are an integral part of the magic of the Goo Goo Dolls live.

During the performance of “Black Balloon,” a four piece orchestra was set up on stage. This song is always a highlight of the Goo’s performance and really brings to attention the great mix of Rzeznik’s and Takac’s vocals on the chorus.

One of the many highlights of the evening, was the emotional performance of “Iris.” With the four piece orchestra returning to the stage, Rzeznik tore thought this emotional hit, having the crowd sing along to the chorus. It was one of the concert moments that gave you goose bumps as the crowd gave a rousing standing ovation afterwards.

Before the song, “Acoustic #3,” Rzeznik explained, “This song is about my mother and how she stayed in a fucked up relationship due to her love of her children.” He also explained that he never finished writing the song, and maybe some day will write a fitting ending.

When the band finished performing the first half of the show, the large framed picture of the “Dizzy Up the Girl” album was removed from the state and a vertical video screen that closely resembled an iPhone was wheeled on stage.  Then began what was truly a very innovative and creative concert moment.

On the video screen was a previous filmed video of Rzeznik, who Rzeznik introduced to the audience as his friend, “John.”  Rzeznik interacted with and performed with his digital self, while the band left the stage.  The first three songs of the second set, which were “Better Days,” “Can’t Let It Go,” and “Two Days in February,” were performed this way.  It was really creative and well done. The audience was in awe, and it showed Rzeznik’s self deprecating sense of humor.  Takac joined Rzeznik and digital John for the middle part of  “Two Days in February,” and then digital John finished up the song.

The rest of the band returned to the stage and continued the second set , which was filled with some hits and  great older material, including 4 from the ‘Superstar Carwash’ era of 1993.  It was refreshing hearing many of these again for the first time in years.

Before the song that changed Rzeznik and Takac’s lives forever, “Name,” Rzeznik explained how when he wrote it, he was down and praying to the universe for a hit.  He said, “I was rapidly approaching my 30’s and I was sitting on a dirty old carpet in a dirty attic on Norwood Ave.” He added, “I was just praying for a hit, so I could get out of this shithole.” A stunning performance of “Name” followed with the audience singing back every word.

Shortly after, the band played the beautiful and heartbreaking song that should have been a huge single, “Notbroken,” (from the 2009 release, ‘Something For The Rest Of Us’). Rzeznik told the audience, “This record was released at a weird time.” He added, “The record company didn’t want to promote this and said no one wanted to listen to us.” He concluded by declaring, “Well, that record company guy is gone and I’m still here.”

The evening ended with a rockin’ two song encore of “Big Machine” and “Flat Top.” When the final note was played, is was very clear that a musically historic event had just taken place in Buffalo, NY.

The Goo Goo Dolls have come a long way since they formed in 1986. It took 9 years before they had their first hit with “Name,” and during that time they came very close to breaking up many times. But, like the great people of Buffalo, Rzeznik and Takac are extremely resilient, and it’s paid off.  They have remained relevant and are one of the most accomplished and important bands of the last 25 years.

This tour, and especially the three show hometown weekend, is a great victory lap for the band, to celebrate all that they have accomplished over the years.  But, by no means think that Rzeznik and Takac are going to slow down. The best is yet to come!

For more on the Goo Goo Dolls, please visit

STITCHED SOUND – THE GOO GOO DOLLS // BUFFALO, NY // 10.19.2018-10.21.2018

By Steffi Wegewitz 

The Goo Goo Dolls are currently touring the US to celebrate their “Dizzy Up The Girl” album turning 20 years old. Their shows are being held in smaller, more intimate venues across the US that sold out immediately when they went on sale earlier this year. They are playing two sets. Set number one is the “Dizzy Up The Girl” album in its entirety and the second set is a “deep cuts” set.

Buffalo welcomed their hometown boys with screams and clapping, when Robby and Johnny came on stage for the first of their three sold out shows at the Shea’s Theatre. They are being joined on stage by Brad Fernquist on guitar, Jim McGorman on keyboards, as well as Craig Macintyre on drums.

They started off performing “Dizzy” in its entirety. During “Black Balloon” about a hundred black balloons floated through the audience and they must have made for a spectacular view from stage.

No costs were spared for these special three performances and the band invited a string quartet on stage during a couple of the ballads. These shows were videotaped and I have feeling they will be available in DVD/BlueRay in the near future.

After finishing the first set, John Rzeznik came back on stage for a three song solo performance, bantering with a prerecorded version of himself on a video screen, who helped him sing and play guitar before the rest of the band joined him back on stage to continue with the second set.

After a solid 2 hours  they left the stage and the audience was left wanting more. The setlist for the first two nights has been  identical, so here’s to hoping that tonight’s show will hold an extra surprise to finish off this amazing 3-night run in Buffalo.


Set 1
01. Dizzy
02. Slide
03. Broadway
04. January Friend
05. Black Balloon
06. Bullet Proof
07. Amigone
08. All Eyes On Me
09. Full Forever
10. Acoustic #3
11. Iris
12. Extra Pale
13. Hate This Place

Set 2
14. Better Days (Johnny Solo with himself on video screen)
15. Can’t Let It Go (Johnny Solo with himself on video screen)
16. Two Days In February (Johnny Solo with himself on video screen)
17. Fallin’ Down
18. Lucky Star
19. Stop The World
20. Name
21. So Alive
22. Notbroken
23. Another Second Time Around
24. There You Are

25. Big Machine
26. Flat Top

Click the link for a great photo set –



Buffalo From A to Z, Come Take a Tour With Me

By queenseyes

True fact – The Goo Goo Dolls’ band named was derived from a True Detective ad for a toy called a Goo Goo Doll. If you weren’t familiar with the band, just the name, you might assume that they played music oriented towards children. We are all aware that that is not the case – the band, which heralds from Buffalo, is beloved by a wide range of ages. It’s almost absurd at this juncture, to think that the Goo Goo Dolls would be associated with children. Or is it?

Just in time for the band’s three sold out shows this weekend, local authors Brigette Atlas-Callahan and Kristin Madej-Warham will be rolling out a children’s book titled Buffalo From A to Z: Come Take a Tour With Me, and they’re doing it in conjunction with the rock concert.

The book not only guest stars the Buffalo rockers, it also showcases over 70 photographs of WNY landmarks taken by local photographers. The photos go hand-in-hand with a tour, led by the book’s mascot and tour guide Bob Uffalo. From the Albright Knox to Shea’s to the Buffalo Zoo, Bob Uffalo tells the tales of Buffalo via a photographic and illustrated journey, which will help to introduce children to the geographic elements that make this city so special.

Once you get your hands on the book, you can flip through the pages until you land on the letter “G”. That is where the Goo Goo Dolls make an appearance, along with Buffalo’s iconic grain elevators.

2018 marks the 20th year since the Goo Goo Dolls released their epic album Dizzy up the Girl. Now, a new generation of Buffalonians will be introduced to the locally revered rockers by leafing through a children’s book, guided by “a spunky little buffalo filled with hometown pride.”

We all know that Buffalo babies are special. Now they will be extra special, because instead of their first sounds being simply googoo, they will now be sounding out the band’s name, with a little help from Bob Uffalo and their parents of course. And instead of solely associating the alphabet’s letters with images of cute animals, they will also be equating the letters with Buffalo landmarks. Talk about a great way to groom youngsters to identify with this city right from the start!