By Ashley Ramynke
Radio station KROQ seemingly defined the alternative sound in Los Angeles throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and boosted the careers of bands now prevalent in the modern alternative scene.
Alternative rock band the Goo Goo Dolls — formed in Buffalo, New York by John Rzeznik (lead vocals/guitar) and Robby Takac (vocals/bass guitar) — had their 1995 single “Name” off their fifth studio LP “A Boy Name Goo” broadcasted on the station’s airwaves, transcending them to mainstream success.
Three years following the release of “A Boy Named Goo,” the band released their sixth studio LP “Dizzy Up The Girl” in 1998. Singles from the LP “Iris” and “Slide” both reached No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart, and are some the band’s most commonly acclaimed work.
To mark the 20th anniversary of their seminal album, the band now composed of founding members John Rzeznik (lead vocals/guitar) and Robby Takac (vocals/bass guitar), and newer additions Brad Fernquist (guitar), Jim McGorman (keyboard), and Craig Macintyre (drums), toured 27 cities across the U.S. from late Sept. to early Nov.
On the second to last stop of tour, the Goo Goo Dolls played the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles on Nov. 9. Entering the stage fitted in variation of black, the band prepared their gear before the lights illuminated the stage and the backdrop of the album’s artwork hung in an eccentric gold frame.
The band’s performance morphed two setlist, the first being “Dizzy Up the Girl” in its entirety, and the second as a compilation of “a bunch of old songs and stuff we don’t usually play,” Rzeznik said.
Taking brief moments between the lengthy setlist of 25 songs, Rzeznik with a sense of nostalgia, expressed gratitude to play a show in the town that gave the band their stardom over 20 years ago. Then proceeding to chastising the crowd, saying how other artist say it is hard to play a show in Los Angeles because everyone is always on their phones. With a semi-valid point, not many attendees gazed at their phones, but instead phones could be constantly seen overhead in attempt to record the concert.
Continuing through the first set, vocalist, bassist, and fellow founding member Robby Takac had an undeniable smile of glee plastered on his face the whole set. The theme of awe for being able to draw such a large crowd 20 years after the album’s release was prevalent to both the founding members and the newer additions.
As the setlist dwindled to the final three songs, the crowd peaked in anticipation for “Iris.” The song is most commonly known as part of the soundtrack on the Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan film “City of Angels” released in 1998, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart and No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the year of the film’s release.
The crowd feeding off the band’s passion sang along as the song transitioned between cascading vocals and an intense instrumental ending.
To mark the conclusion of the first set, the band left the stage and the lights dimmed as a voicemail message echoed across the crowd. A group of stagehands then brought out a large rectangular object covered with a dark sheet. A mere moment later, Rzeznik entered the stage alone, joking about his hatred for being placed on hold.
“I wanted to do something special for you guys ‘cause this is L.A. and this is always a really cool place to do a show, and you’ve got to do something spectacular. So I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Why don’t we get a special celebrity guest to come play with us, right? How f**king awesome would that be?’ So then we got our phones out and we were looking through all our contacts, and like, I don’t have an famous friends … and times being what they are, and my lack of famous friends, everything that I have going on, I decided on an alternative that I hope you enjoy. And I would like to introduce to you to my friend … me,” said Rzeznik.
The sheet was then removed to show a video of Rzeznik on the large rectangular screen. Proceeding to play “Better Days,” “Can’t Let It Go,” and “Two Days in February,” bantering between himself and his digital version, he also transitioned to let his digital version sing or play guitar for him between songs before bringing out Takac to play alongside them for “Two Days in February.”
Replacing the digital Rzeznik with the rest of the band, they prepared their gear as the backdrop now void of the album’s original artwork was replaced with a large banner with the band’s logo. Then playing a mix of their hits over the decades to more obscure songs, they ended the set with the song “Big Machine” off their seventh studio LP “Gutterflower” released in 2002.
As the array of colorful stage lights ferociously cascaded over the stage and audience, the band throwing picks into the crowd exited the stage in the city that began their stardom over two decades ago.