Goo Goo Dolls offer intimate show for hometown crowd

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

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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 their 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 max.kalnitz@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @Max_Kalnitz