August 22, 2016 Goo Goo Dolls Right At Home Jones Beach, NY 8-12-16 w/ Collective Soul & Tribe Society
It has been a remarkable thirty years for Buffalo, New York natives John Rzeznik and Robby Takac. Close friends turned bandmates, the two would go on to build the band known as the Goo Goo Dolls; a once Garage Punk Rock outfit matured into Alternative Rock heroes. Where many acts have stumbled and fallen, the Goo Goo Dolls continue an unbelievable ride behind nineteen different singles that made their way into the Top Ten charts. Continuing to give fans the goods, the band is still quite busy, releasing their most recent album, Boxes. A record described by Takac as the two songwriter’s feeling most comfortable in their skin, Boxes is a balance between Pop, Rock, but most of all, heartfelt compositions.
That in mind, the Goo Goo Dolls live for touring, and their favorite time to rock is in the summertime. Perfect for kicking back and having a good time, their 2016 summer tour could be one of their most inspiring in years with the buzz of Boxes and addition of touring partners Collective Soul and Tribe Society. A run which began just after Independence Day, it has become a yearly tradition for the Goo Goo Dolls to set their eyes once again on Nikon at Jones Beach Theater down in Wantagh, New York. In fact, Takac told CrypticRock that Jones Beach does hold a place in the band’s heart, stating, “Wow man, all these people are here to share these songs with us and that is amazing.” Allowing that warm feeling to set in, the stage was set, the sun was beating down, and excitement was in the air as fans of all ages gathered for the night of Alternative Rock glory.
It all began with relatively new band Tribe Society. Formed out of a previous band called Gentlemen Hall, Tribe Society is a fresh start for this group of talented musicians. While the band is a direct support for Goo Goo Dolls and Collective Soul the entire tour, this show was almost a home show for Gavin Merlot (vocals/guitar), Seth Hachen (flute/keyboards), Rory Given (bass), Brad Alderman (keyboards), and Phil Boucher (drums). Hailing from the not-so-far-away Washington Heights, in the borough of Queens, they were not without their own local fans as many in attendance were looking forward to seeing their performance.
With the sun shining bright over the open air venue, the group opened with “Problems” off their new album, Lucid Dreams. From there, the album was on full display as they moved on to “Outta My System” and “Secrets” as Merlot engaged the audience saying, “Even if you’re all scattered, it’s amazing playing in front of this many people. “Taking a break from the new album, they treated the growing audience to a cover of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979.” A cover that struck many’s fancy, while the band jammed out on stage, Hachen danced around with his flute, taking full advantage of the stage’s size.
Moving on to perform “Pain Told Love,” they finished off their set with “Kings” as Hachen blew into his flute, Merlot took out his phone to record a Snapchat the final moments. There is a simple reason why heavy-hitters like Collective Soul and The Goo Goo Dolls would select Tribe Society as their opening act, it is because they are worthy of the opportunity. The aforementioned Lucid Dreams is currently a limited release album only available during the band’s live shows, making it just another reason to arrive early and check them out.
As Tribe Society’s banner was taken down, Collective Soul’s familiar logo took dominance over the stage. Coming from Stockbridge, Georgia, Collective Soul has been perhaps one of the most unique and powerful Alternative Rock bands over the last two decades. Never following trends, Collective Soul’s style is all their own and it is evident from the range of sounds they offer on each of their nine chart-topping albums. Releasing See What You Started by Continuing back in the fall of 2015, the album could be regarded as a return to their Guitar Rock-driven sound, but those who have followed Collective Soul from start to finish, know that classic guitar sound never faded. Currently consisting of core members Ed Roland (vocals/guitar/keys), Dean Roland (rhythm guitar), and Will Turpin (bass), Collective Soul also includes new members Jesse Triplett (lead guitar) as well as Johnny Rabb (drums). Earning their fanbase by a healthy balance of heavy touring and releasing quality albums, Collective Soul was made for an amphitheater setting like Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.
Making an epic entrance, fog machines blew and a pre-recorded choir filled the air. Then, the guitars echoed the opening chords of “Heavy” and Ed was off and running, riling up the crowd as he owned every inch of the stage. Throwing his hands in the air, as the song came to an end, he continued clapping as “Where The River Flows” began. Showing to have a plethora of energy, the vocalist continued to jump around, bringing his mic stand with him for the ride, as they continued into “Better Now,” happily saying, “This is the part of the show we like to call The Sing-Along Part!” Capturing everyone’s attention with the ever catchy tunes, they showed off the much newer material with “Contagious” before rolling out “AYTA.”
Having everyone’s blood pumping, the set was halfway done as Roland took to the microphone and exclaimed, “Thank you for giving us twenty-two years of life!” Met by a massive ovation, Roland informed everyone that the band is planning a yet another new album for 2017. Also welcomed in the eye of Collective Soul followers, the band took advantage of the excitement, playing “Amazing Grace,” early mega hit “Shine,” and “Rule #1.” Keeping the early classics coming, “December” and melancholy “The World I Know” rounded out the set as the band raised their instruments in the air before gathering center-stage for a curtain call.
Ed said it best himself during the band’s performance, proclaiming the band was out of the 1990s, but certainly not stuck in the decade. Receiving a roar of cheers, it proved there was simply no argument from the crowd. Releasing new albums at a steady clip while bringing their high octane stage performance on the road for a can-not-miss show, Collective Soul shows no signs of slowing down.
With the bar set high for the Goo Goo Dolls, the stage crew went to work prepping for the headliners. Of course led by the foundation of Vocalist/Guitarist Rzeznik and Bassist/Vocalist Takac, the band is rounded out by Guitarist/Mandolinist Brad Fernquist, Keyboardist/Guitarist/Saxophonist Korel Tunador, and Drummer Craig Macintyre, each of which add an extra layer of talent to the group’s shows. That in mind, a huge LED structure behind Macintyre’s drum set was the coup de gras of the scene while some CO2 smoke machines lined the front of the stage. Quite the setup, it would not take long for fans to find what this elaborate display was all for. Many of those in the crowd have been seeing the Goo Goo Dolls at this same spot, going on nearly twenty years, dating back to the rain soaked show Jones Beach debut of August 20th 1999. So, this was more than just another show, it was a summer tradition for Long Islanders.
Proving to be a perfect song to start, Goo Goo Dolls opened with “Over and Over,” with each chorus of “Turn it up” being sung by Rzeznik and Takac as smoke shot out, bringing the song to a whole new level. Now with the crowd at their feet, the band continued on with earlier heavy hit “Long Way Down,” and while they played, a little girl on the side of the stage exchanged glances with Tunador, as he playfully stuck his tongue out at her, showing a sense of humor. This would be far from the only lighter moment of the set, as the band’s hijinks would be on full display throughout the night.
Only a couple of songs in, set mainstay “Slide” began with the signature guitar plucking as the crowd cheered, prompting Rzeznik to say, “I knew you guys would know this one.” From there, they would blast through a multitude of their greatest hits including the newer “Rebel Beat” and emotional “Black Balloon.” At the conclusion of the latter, Rzeznik welcomed fans to a “perfect night here at Jones Beach!” A perfect night indeed, what is a Goo Goo Dolls show without a little Takac providing his Punk Rock flare on some lead vocals? That said, Takac did just that during “Smash” and “Bringing on the Light.” Coming at the audience with raspy and enthusiastic delivery, Takac offered an appreciated diversity.
Following the Takac showcase, Rzeznik decided it was story time. Giving the crowd a laugh, the frontman spoke of how the group came to be. “I had weed, he (referring to Takac) had a car. So the natural thing to do is start a band,” he joked as the crowd cheered him on. Now thirty years later, he went on to say meeting fans has changed from “I love your band so much” to “My mom loves your band so much!” Another moment of laughter, Rzeznik kept the hits coming with “Name” as he continued having some more fun, saying, “Ladies and Gentleman, Keith Urban,” as Fernquist polished off a guitar solo. Mixing it up some more, new songs such as “So Alive” and “Souls in the Machine” were weaved between hits such as “Naked” and “Better Days.” Then, Takac made a return on lead with his 1993 Superstar Car Wash classic “Already There” before the band paid tribute to the late Prince with a cover of “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man.”
Feeding off one another, as an equal partnership, Rzeznik gave the ball back to Takac for “Come to Me” before returning on lead for “Pin” and “Stay With You.” No stranger to disgruntled husbands, Rzeznik humorously dealt with a front-row wise-guy asking him if his wife dragged him to the show, to which the guy responded, “Yes.” Sympathizing with the fan, Rzeznik told him, “My wife dragged me to see Matchbox 20 and I was there like ‘Come on!,'” while straining in disapproval.” He continued, “It was funny, because a few days later Rob (Thomas) was in the front row for our show going “Come on!,” to which everyone laughed loudly.
Following the moments of smiles and giggles, the band found themselves in front of a sea of cell phone lights as they played another mega-hit, everyone’s favorite, “Iris.” Sensing the special moment, Rzeznik asked the cameramen, “Why are you filming us? Take a look at these fans!” This prompted the camera crew to turn towards the crowd, igniting the mass of people to exploded. High on emotion, this prompted set closer “Broadway” as the band released over-sized balloons into the crowd. Sadly, the wind was quick to take them away, though it could not take away from Tunador’s boisterous saxophone solo at the song’s crescendo. After a short break, Goo Goo Dolls returned on stage for one last song, sending their fans back to the real world with “Long Way Home.”
Goo Goo Dolls continue to sell out Jones Beach year after year for good reason. Thirty years together has created a bond between Rzeznik and Takac that has become unbreakable. That same bond can be seen between the band and their fans with every song they perform. The feeling in the air is inescapable as everyone finds themselves singing along with every word. While their current tour is set to run through September, the band shows no end in sight with a North American Fall tour already in the works with special guest SafetySuit. Despite the many opportunities to see the Goo Goo Dolls live, each night feels like a once in a lifetime experience that truly cannot be missed.