Charlotte, N.C played host to nostalgia and joy on August 6 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. The Goo Goo Dolls performed to a practically sold-out crowd in Charlotte and to the excitement and glee of long-time fans of the indie alt rockers. Fans both young and old could be seen across the amphitheater jumping up and down and waving their arms in communal joy at the prospect of the Dolls alongside singer-songwriter Kate Earl, and tenured Florida rockers Matchbox Twenty.
After an anticipation building opener, with a cavalier smile and instruments in hand, The Goo Goo Dolls strolled on stage with no pretenses and no ego, but rather graceful simplicity. Clad in a black T-shirt, jeans and a black baseball cap, front man John Reznik was all smiles and charm as he began to play. Bassist and co-founder Robby Takac seemed to be in the zone, demonstrating a variety of facial expressions from smiles to an almost Elvis-like snarl at times. Both men, long time musicians, made sure they worked the entire stage to bolster crowd participation and threw smiles and waves to the clamoring crowd. Drummer Mike Malinin sat high on his elevated perch with a first class view of the horde of devotees devouring every note played.
As the set went on, the air seemed alight with a happy nostalgia that seemed to intoxicate the vast amphitheater. Fans could be seen swaying and moving to the mellifluous tunes that wafted through the otherwise stagnant air. On more upbeat songs the atmosphere shifted to a more gregarious tone, with hands in the air and the masses rocking out to their old favorites. The Dolls touched on all their old hits while incorporating a few of their newer tunes from Magnetic. Songs like “Here Is Gone,” “Let Love In,” “Broadway,” and their first big single “Name” hit the emotional keynotes that brought fans back in time through The Goo Goo Dolls’ discography. Then, there were songs “Slide,” “Iris,” and “Black Balloon” that acted as a vortex back into another time wherein these songs had only just come about and for a moment the world was different. Transformative and yet timeless, the Dolls were visibly changing lives and living in the moment with hundreds of their biggest fans. Parents were seen with their children, some appearing as young as four years old, taking in the tunes and giving them their introduction to rock music and its community-building capabilities.
Apparently after spending quite a bit of time on the road with this tour, Reznik has come to appreciate the finer things in life, like female concertgoers yielding extra large alcohol. During the show he took a moment to address the crowd and said with a laugh that his new favorite thing was tiny girls with giant beers. Later in the set between songs, Reznik took second to pose for a fan picture. Two fans in the general admission pit in front of the stage were taking a photo together with the stage as the backdrop and Reznik decided he wanted in on the fun. He positioned himself onstage between the two fans and crouched down to pose as the shot was taken. He then got up and joking said,”I feel like the f**king Grand Canyon!”
Newer songs like “Rebel Beat,” “Bringing On The Light,” and “Come To Me” did manage to garner some crowd attention and participation despite the lack of attachment to them unlike the older classics. During “Come To Me” a lighted banner with the lyrics flashed across the top of the stage set, prompting the masses to sing a-long as though it were already etched in their hearts. Like long lost friends come home to visit, The Goo Goo Dolls created a visible, auditory euphoria that washed over the crowd like waves of sonic bliss.
Regardless of whether or not you have ever been a GGD fan, this was show was a must-see. Even after over 20 years of bringing their special brand of alternative rock to the masses, the Dolls still manage to instill the same sense of familiarity and grassroots accessibility even in the largest of venues. With a musical cataloge that ranges from the dark and emotive to the springy and inspiring, GGD has a little something for everyone and every mood. So, check them out on tour with Matchbox Twenty and Kate Earl, pick up Magnetic, or even just look them up on YouTube to reminisce and reconnect with band that made you sneaking out your window look good (see: “Slide”)…