A Band Named Goo: The Goo Goo Dolls Search for Relevance
The Goo Goo Dolls are in a precarious situation. Rusted by the road, yet still bright enough to almost sell out the LC Pavilion, they have become aged mascots of a simpler time – a time that lead Goo John Rzeznik is perpetually stuck inside. Unbelievably, it’s been 24 years since the band’s first album and 13 years since they not only ruled the airways, but also the world in 1998.
On-stage, Rzeznik, whose vocals are as beautifully tattered as they were on the band’s first hit “Name,” is dressed head-to-toe circa 1998. Wearing some derivative of baggy parachute pants, once-trendy dog tags, a black shirt with a black tank-top nestled underneath, and the flatironed, frosted hair that made him coveted by millions, Rzeznik’s propensity to stick to what’s worked for him is admirable.
However, 24 years of performing has molded the Goo Goo Dolls into the perfect showmen with equal parts jadedness, immense talent, and a never-ending search for relevance. It would be remiss to say the fans weren’t at Tuesday’s show to sing along to the songs they have spent the last decade belting in tune with their car radios. Understanding their role, the Dolls gave the crowd what it came for and they gave it early. “Here is Gone” sounded ripped off an FM station while 3-time platinum Dizzy Up the Girl’s “Black Balloon” and “Slide” gave the audience nostalgia to cling to while waiting for the evening’s crescendo – “Name” and “Iris.”
It’s a bit cliché to say that the two songs that launched the Goo Goo Dolls into the outer regions of the celebrity stratosphere were the highlight, but they really were. Heard live, “Name” and “Iris” sound as delicate and sincere as the first time you listened to it over a decade ago. Acoustic ballads are definitely the Goo Goo Dolls niche; however, the band pushes its boundaries by labeling itself as a rock band.
Sure, this show would have sold out Fenway Park in 1998, but 13 years after the fact, the Goo Goo Dolls are neither culturally relevant nor blazing a melodic trail. But they don’t need to be. Their precarious situation is that they are free from the shackles of celebrity and the constraints of searching for the next number one hit. Love the Goo Goo Dolls or loathe the band’s existence, they have created some of the best pop songs of the last few decades. And 13 years later, those songs are still gold.
This review was written by Josh Fitzwater and brought to you by the Franklin University Plaza at the LC Pavilion. For more information about shows that Josh and the Franklin crew will be attending and for chances to win tickets to concerts all year long, visit us on Facebook. Photography was provided by Matt Ellis at Three-Songs Photography.