One of the most revealing details I found out about my friend from high school was that their go to breakup song was (and maybe still is) “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. That song and that album Dizzy Up the Girl dropped at the right time for longing teens in the alternative 90s milieu of Portland and they all happened to show up at McMenamins Edgefield to witness the Goo Goos themselves performing live with Blue October. It had been a long sought after show, following an erratically delayed tour in support of their last album Miracle Pill, a point which the band has brought up in interviews post album release. Since starting as a scrappy punk band playing in bars in the 80s, the Goo Goo Dolls have reached meteoric heights among their peers and continue to write emotionally resonant songs for people to fall in love with.
The opener Blue October wowed the crowds with one rocker after another. Past their tough, tattooed Texas exteriors, the band members all have the ability to turn out poppy hits like Into the Ocean. “We’re Blue October and we love life” announced singer Justin Furstenfeld as the front rows got up and started dancing, audience members pulled nearly trance-like into Blue October’s orbit.
For those who don’t know the history of the Goo Goo Dolls, the band formed in Buffalo NY and have consistently been flirting with mainstream success, building a strong fanbase in the process. The band has always revolved around John Rzeznik and Robby Takac who remain the core members and work around the clock putting their setlists and shows together. When John and Robby approached the stage, the crowd erupted in cheers. The band launched into their first song, a single from their new album Chaos in Bloom. John Rzeznik has all the charisma of a seasoned performer and Robby Takac plays the lovable accompanist, bass guitar covered in stickers with a Badtz Maru bass guitar strap to match.
There was plenty of quippy stage banter in between songs, Rzeznik stating, “”I heard Portland is the best place to live for millennials. And that’s why I’m getting the f___ out of here after this show! Sorry y’all, I’m a proud Gen Xer. You were probably in the second grade when you first heard these songs.” He’s not wrong – as soon as the opening chords to Black Balloon rang out over the Edgefield, I could feel myself getting transported to my bedroom, listening to the song on the radio in ‘98. It felt like a real, transcendent moment, and maybe one that my friend in high school felt too.
The encore was a cover of Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream, which felt like the perfect way to end the night and a final closing statement for anyone curious about the Goo Goo Dolls. This is a band who has been following their dreams for decades and show no signs of slowing down.
The album, Chaos in Bloom is available now on Warner Records.
Follow The Goo Goo Dolls @googoodollsofficial on Instagram