On a warm summer night in Mountain View, thousands of fans flooded into the spacious Shoreline Amphitheatre. After a passionate opening performance by “American Idol”-featured R&B singer Allen Stone, the real show began — members of Goo Goo Dolls ran onstage ready to awaken the somewhat snoozy audience.
The band opened with “Stay With You,” a fast-paced, energetic love song, with vocalist and bassist Robby Takac eager to get the crowd’s blood pumping. His efforts to engage the audience — skipping around the stage and bopping his head passionately — balanced out guitarist John Rzeznik’s composed disposition.
Goo Goo Dolls wasn’t afraid to keep the show light-hearted — “I’m sorry for the people who showed up late, because they won’t get to see Robby play without his pants on,” Rzeznik joked at one point. Later on, the band kept audience members sitting in the most distant seats included by calling to them, “Are you back there?” Adding to the playfulness of the show, several black balloons, which cheerful audience members bounced between one another, were released during “Black Balloon.”
However, the group later inspired a melancholy mood when Rzeznik introduced “Sympathy” as a song about being “too afraid to live and too afraid to die.” The emotional vulnerability and intent behind the song was felt by all. Another mournful highlight of the night was the group’s performance of “Here is Gone,” sung by Rzeznik, whose range of vocals filled the soul with nostalgia and heartache.
In Takac’s first song of the night on vocals, “Free of Me,” the singer never stopped smiling, jumping up and down and kicking the air like a child high on a sugar rush. His raspy, high-pitched vocals had less of an impact than Rzeznik’s, but Tacak was certainly fun to watch onstage. He prompted the audience to clap and sing along to the upbeat tune of “So Alive,” leading Rzeznik to say, “There are no shy people in this audience.”
Rzeznik later told the story of how he spontaneously came up with one of the Goo Goo Doll’s most poetic songs, “Name”: It came to him, he said, while sitting on his “dirty, garbage-packed sofa” back when he and Tacak used to throw parties in their attic. In a clash of visuals and songs, the two singers came together and dramatically strummed their guitars as a large green disco ball spun behind them.
The band treated the audience to “Miracle Pill” off of an upcoming unreleased album. The cut has a refreshing new sound for the band, with abruptly spoken lyrics, blunt keyboard notes and steady drumming that contrasted with drawn-out melodies. The song and visuals of red lights and pills scattered across the screen made for an exciting introduction to the album, which promises to be something fans can look forward to.
The band’s most adored song, “Iris,” is what ultimately got everyone on their feet and singing in unison. As Rzeznik prompted the audience to sing, the noise grew increasingly louder. Voices of all ages blended into one and filled the amphitheater with the unity of strangers coming together over love and nostalgia for this music. Golden sparks shimmered across the stage as couples swayed to their favorite 1998 hit.
The band that followed was Train, led by vocalist Patrick Monahan, whose sound complemented that of Goo Goo Dolls well. During Train’s set, Stone and Rzeznik each joined Monahan on the stage one last time, and with that, a satisfied crowd and a wholesome night was brought to an end.
During the night, Goo Goo Dolls and an audience looking to reminisce and support its favorite artists came together. Although the nostalgic night sped by, the concert will likely long be remembered by those who showed up, laughed, cried and sang along with the songs from their past.
Contact Alison Church at [email protected].