Goo Goo Dolls at the Chicago Theatre

Photo credit: JAE-HA KIM

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 24, 2002

The Goo Goo Dolls did the best they could Friday night at the Chicago Theatre. But they were playing to an audience that probably didn’t attend a lot of rock concerts.   How else could you explain a bunch of grown men [and women-but let’s face it, most of them were guys] who would hurl fluorescent glow sticks at the stage and think the band would enjoy it.

“Hey, cell phone users!” said bassist Robby Takac. “Quit whipping those things at the stage. I got hit by two and they really hurt.” You wouldn’t think he’d have to state the obvious.

If there were more cell phones at this show than usual, it wasn’t a coincidence. One-third of the audience was comprised of U.S. Cellular employees and business partners. The Chicago-based company hosted the show and gave away the remaining 2,000 seats to fans via local radio station contests.

At one point, singer Johnny Rzeznik spoke to an audience member’s friend on his cell phone. Judging by Rzeznik’s reaction, the faceless friend seemed snarky and not particularly thrilled to be speaking with the heartthrob.

Rzeznik’s percolating cold didn’t slow him down much, but the show was less energetic than their show a few months ago at the Riviera Theatre. While they were obviously amped for that gig, the Goos seemed a little run down this time around. On a handful of numbers, including “Big Machine,” the usually pristine guitars sounded tinny and weak.

Back in the day, the Goo Goo Dolls was a glam punk trio. Their hair rivaled anything Axl Rose dreamed up and they managed to beat the heck out of their three instruments.

These days, their look-like their sound-is more refined. Their punk roots still are evident on the best of their rockers, but their fame sprung from lush ballads such as “Name” and “Iris.”

When they started 15 years ago, they never dreamed they’d be guest starring on shows such as “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.” They were just a bunch of kids who played hard, sang rough and didn’t seem to have much of a future in music. And back then, their songs were more evenly distributed between Rzeznik and Takac.

But since Rzeznik’s are the songs that romance radio better, his get top billing. His melodious voice is equally proficient spitting out a hard rock number as it as a Bic-flicking ballad. But it’s Takac’s edgier, if sometimes redundant style, that really makes an impact live. He spits out the lyrics with delirious abandon. Oddly enough, this sometimes gives the impression he’s singing the same song over and again, but it never grows old.

The Goo Goo Dolls will be in Chicago to headline a New Year’s Eve show at the House of Blues. Hopefully, the glow stick throwers won’t attend.


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