Goo Goo Dolls Slide into Red Rock for an Evening of Hits

By Heather Vale

Photos by Roger Bennett

August in Las Vegas started out with a lot of heat, and it was partially thanks to one of the hottest concerts of the year – a triple bill at Red Rock’s Sandbar headlined by the Goo Goo Dolls.

I was joined by my partner-in-creativity, photographer Roger Bennett, who’s also a big fan of the band, which happens to be from his home town.

Formed in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1986, the Goo Goo Dolls have now churned out 10 studio albums which have collectively sold over 10 million copies. This tour is to support the latest one, Magnetic.

“This album was really upbeat and fun,” said frontman, songwriter and founding member John Rzeznik on the band’s official website. “I don’t think we’ve made a record like this in a while. Just had a great time doing it.” But that didn’t mean there was any shortage of old favorites on this tour.

They slid into the hits early on with “Slide” as their third song. Being third on a bill that included Daughtry and the Plain White T’s, they faced an audience that had mostly been there for a few hours already. But clearly the energy was holding strong as the crowd went wild.

That would wane a bit by the end. The Dolls played a standard 90-minute set, but it made the entire show a whopping 4-hour marathon – just a bit too long for the many fans who started making their way to the door early.

Nonetheless, the show remained extremely strong throughout. Rzeznik cycled through a large selection of guitars, as did second guitarist Brad Fernquist. Bassist, singer and other founding member Robby Takac had quite the collection of basses to choose from as well.

To me, most of them looked the same, but presumably there were some key differences, as there were for Rzeznik’s axes. According to guitarist folklore, his unique tuning methodology involves making several strings on one guitar play the same note an octave apart, which gives the effect of having a 12-string guitar.

Throughout the show the band talked to the audience, told stories and jokes, had fun, and generally made the whole performance seem like second nature. And that’s probably why they’ve consistently made their mark on the music industry over close to 30 years together.

Despite the length of their career, members of the band don’t appear to have aged much. Rzeznik and Takac still have their trademark mops of hair, and their stage stamina hasn’t dwindled one bit. Rzeznik’s unique voice is still just as strong, and if they’re tired of playing the same songs for decades, you would never guess it.

Behind the band was a simple yet very cool set, featuring video words and other imagery projected onto black banners hung vertically from the ceiling. Upon launching into their hit song “Black Balloon” – one of 14 top 10 hits they’ve logged during their career – the band released black balloons from the stage that floated up over the audience. These were nice little touches that actually added a lot to the show.

The last 30 minutes of the set was jam-packed with more than its share of hits, starting with “Name” and closely followed by my personal inspirational favorite, ”Better Days.” Next up were “Let Love In” and “Iris,” the song that hit #1 on Billboard’s Top 100 of 1992-2012. Rzeznik originally wrote it for the 1998 movie City of Angels, and the lyrics are meant to be from the perspective of Nicolas Cage’s character. But since then it has gotten a lot more legs and its influence has expanded well beyond that of the movie.

In addition, Goo Goo Dolls songs have appeared in approximately 30 movies and TV shows. It’s just further proof that their music and lyrics touch people deeply and are well suited to become part of our culture as a whole.

The crowd-pleasers continued into the encore with “Broadway,” and even though their set list had two encores on it, they didn’t end up playing the second.

It didn’t matter to the people who stuck it out to witness such a strong performance. Screaming and singing along to the popular tunes gleefully, they had already gotten more than their money’s worth. Roger said it was the best concert he’d seen in years, and I’m sure he wasn’t alone in that sentiment.

My biggest disappointment was that they didn’t do “Not Broken,” another personal favorite of mine. But it’s a very small complaint in the face of a great show. The Goo Goo Dolls proved how hard they can rock, and how much passion they have to give, and I hope they continue for another few decades at least.

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One Response to Goo Goo Dolls Slide into Red Rock for an Evening of Hits

  1. I agree! Concert was amazing! Unfortunately for us, we were stuck in traffic getting to Red Rocks and missed ALL of the Plain White T’s and only caught the last 3 songs from Daughtry. I was just sick about that. Scheduled for back surgery two days later, the trek up to the venue from the lower parking lot only added to my disappointment. But…..I’d do it again in a heart beat. Met with the GGD twice at Red Rocks for their Meet ‘n Greets from previous concerts there. What an incredible band to keep doing that for their fans. Such a brief moment in time, but it lasts forever. No suprise why their still my favorite band.

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