There’s something innately familiar about a Goo Goo Dolls show.
It might be that their songs are bred into the DNA of anyone with access to a radio in the late 90s and early 2000s.
But, it might also simply be front man Johnny Rzeznik’s voice.
From one of the best first lyrics, “and I’d give up forever to touch you,” to even the quick “yeahs” he’d yell into the microphone between verses, his voice is its own instrument in the band’s beloved sound.
That familiarity only further lent itself to this tour, which was in honor of the 20th anniversary of their 1998 album, Dizzy Up the Girl.
“I’m f**king old,” Rzeznik said with a laugh, going on to say that people ask why they don’t just play some new shit.
But first – like anniversary tours that have come before – they played that album in its entirety for the first half on the sold-out show at the State Theatre in Downtown Minneapolis Saturday.
The tribute to the staple alt-rock album was not lost on the audience from the first song in, as the driving rock and response-worthy, back-up vocals within “Dizzy” kicked off the night.
But almost too quickly, the first “hit” of the night arrived, and the nostalgic triplet-esque opening riffs of “Slide” started. While he sang out about sliding into rooms, running away and getting married, the sounds of every instrument on stage were also married perfectly: the drums behind a sound wall weren’t overbearing; the two guitars complemented each other well; the keys provided wonderfully glittering backing riffs to the rock bops.
Bassist Robby Takac then took over lead vocals for “January Friend,” keeping everything aligned with the original recordings. While his voice is admittedly more punk and less crooning, he was no less a lead man with the sheer energy he had when bounding around the stage or triumphantly throwing his fist in the air after each song.
Now back to the main front man, it would be a good time to mention that Rzeznik, himself, said he was “very, very high on cough medicine” onstage. But between occasional coughs, his vocals were seemingly flawless, so no one would’ve known.
Well, that is, apart from his monologue rants.
“I feel like one of those mumble rappers,” he said, wiggling all 10 fingers in the air. “Do you know what those are, you old people?”
He even went on to explain, PSA style, what “purple drank” is and why jolly ranchers are involved…
But despite any of these tangents, they just kept on playing through the 13 tracks of the album, and “Acoustic #3” was one of the highlights of the latter half, as Rzeznik said he wrote it with his mother in mind.
Then, it happened. A collective sigh could be felt when the beginning notes of the mandolin in “Iris” rang out. From the belting chorus and the heart-tearing verses, every word was sung along by everyone in the theater. During the solo breakdown, the band was even backlit with white lights, which gave the small theater a stadium feel.
It was a moment that, at its very essence, was pure nostalgia. At this point in their careers, the band must know it’s a moment concert-goers look forward to, and the song did not disappoint.
A few songs later, Rzeznik was onstage alone with his guitar as he told the room that “this was one of the cities that opened up its arms to us before the rest of the world.”
After briefly chatting about how he thinks the world has changed, every opinion will always upset someone and that times were simpler, he then broke into (aptly timed) 2006’s “Better Days” and “Sympathy,” which is four years its senior.
His strong voice again shined as he played through his cold, as he has no problem playing with just his guitar. His incredible songwriting was simply more clearly visible.
After playing so many hits, however, there was a bit of an energy lull for the next few tracks before “Name” brought it back again, and the show ended a handful of songs later.
But all in all, the tour stop was primarily a nod to Dizzy Up the Girl, which brought the Goo Goo Dolls into the musical forefront of the time. The night was evidence that the band perfected the art of the driving, heartfelt rock of the 90s and 2000s.
Their music has continued on since then, but the nostalgia trip was much appreciated at the State Theatre Saturday night.