Going Goo Goo

Two things about our great adventure have had a deeper impact on me than I anticipated. The first is the distance from our family, and the second is my concert attendance, or lack of it.

In K-town, we lived in a mecca for entertainment. More than a half-dozen top-notch concert venues within 45 minutes driving time. I lived for -- first, the concert announcements, and than -- those concerts. I find few things more exhilarating than hearing a musical act I greatly admire performing live just a few yards in front of me. Not that I ever took that for granted.

I just underestimated the possibilities in The 'Ville. Now, the quality concert venues are a good 90-minute drive and they're not as accessible. The acts that do come to this region don't rise to the quality of those that tour through the northland. I was spoiled, I guess.

I still shudder every time I see an announcement about a concert in the old neighborhood that I would make if we still lived there. Oh, this last year has been agonizing.

Last night, I got a bit of redemption.

The Goo Goo Dolls performed live on our small campus. 

When the announcement was made on the campus radio station one night in January, the university's social media pages lit up with excitement. On the morning that tickets went on sale, students skipped classes and the line stretched far down a hallway and out the door.

I got my hands on a ticket of my own a couple weeks later -- $14, baby -- and last night, as I watched the band perform, I could hardly believe what I was watching. The Goo Goo Dolls were playing live at my alma mater. Not to mention mere blocks from our house.

* * *

Doors to the arena opened at 6 p.m. Show started at 7:30 ... Before the show, our group hit up a popular bar and grill, where it was Greek night. ... I'll tell ya, nothing puts you in the mood for a rock concert than some loud Greek music.

* * *

Vedera opened the show ... A four-person band with a female, Kristen May, taking the lead on vocals. I'd never heard of them, but I liked what I heard. A sweet-sounding balance of pop and rock.

I couldn't put my finger on any good comparisons, though, which I suppose is a sign of either their uniqueness or my inability to keep up with the music landscape lately. Given that my mind has been stretched insanely thin the last couple months, I'm thinking it's the latter. ... The best comparison I could come up with was Avril Lavigne, or the Cranberries, but I think that's stretching it.

That said, I counted eight songs in a span of their 40-minute set. And near the end, all of the songs started sounding the same. For me, the only stand out was their slow cover of the Beatles' "Taxman." Sweet.

* * *

At around 8:45, the Goo Goo Dolls took the stage and broke into "Sweetest Lie," a classic rocking tune from their new album. The all-ages crowd was instantly engaged and the atmosphere was electric.

Initially, I was nervous the band was going to load the show with new songs to promote their new album. Instead they pleased the masses with a healthy dose of their hits and the strongest cuts from their latest album, "Something For the Rest of Us."

The lighting was spectacular, while the backdrop reflected an illusion of the band playing against the rock wall of a cave.

Here's the night's set list ... With a few video clips.

  1. Sweetest Lie
  2. Big Machine
  3. Slide ... John Rzeznik looked at the crowd and said, "Here we go." Then he delved into the opening guitar riff, and the crowd roared.

  4. Dizzy
  5. Here Is Gone
  6. Smash
  7. Another Second Time Around
  8. Can't Let It Go
  9. Black Balloon ... Arguably my favorite Goo Goo Dolls song. The crowd batted black balloons for the duration of the song.

  10. Home ... Haven't been able to get this song out of my head for weeks. I like it a lot.
  11. Better Days
  12. Stay With You ... See "Home." Ditto.
  13. Now I Hear 
  14. Tucked Away
  15. Name ... Ah, the one that started it all, and the song that always makes me think of my high school marching band days in the fall of 1995. ... Before launching into it Rzeznik leaned into the microphone and asked the crowd, "Are you happy?" to which the crowd shouted, "Yeah!"  Rzeznik answered, "That's great 'cause this next song is really f***ing depressing!"

  16. As I Am
  17. Iris

  18. Notbroken 
  19. Broadway ... Rzeznik opened it by singing the chorus a capella. The band also included a sax solo.
The music was tight, and I could not have been more pleased with all of it. This one far outdid the night we saw them in a pouring Chicago rain with the Counting Crows. I'd say I got my money's worth.

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