Monday, August 12, 2002

Monologs intrude on Goo Goo Dolls' music perfect fit

By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

        The poor man's Paul Westerberg has been richer than Paul Westerberg for at least seven years. As singer-guitarist John Rzeznik recalled from the Riverbend stage Friday night, it was 1995 when his band the Goo Goo Dolls scored their first hit with the song “Name.”

        Until that point the band could have been most kindly described as an awful Replacements ripoff, playing loud-fast anthems in a style established by Mr. Westerberg's band.

        In their 85-minute, 22-song show the Goo Goo Dolls, a three-piece with two sidemen along for the show, played many of those such tunes. But the set was built around ballads and mid-tempo sing-alongs from 1995 and after, the stuff that made them arena rockers. They're now huge, way bigger than the Replacements ever were. And just to prove fate's cruelty in the rock racket, the same week the Goo Goo Dolls played Riverbend, Mr. Westerberg did a show at a 400-seat Cincinnati club.

        To compound the injustice, Mr. Rzeznik is either dishonest or delusional about his place in rock. “We live in a world of preprogrammed and prepackaged (junk),” he told the crowd while introducing “Name.” “It's amazing you guys have stayed with us so long.”

        Without arguing the aesthetic merits of such crowd favorites as “Iris,” “Name,” or “Slide,” it's not like the Goo Goo Dolls are destroying today's preprogrammed, prepackaged radio formats. In fact, they're contributing to them.

        So if we call them a harmless hit-making pop-rock band who put on the type of show you'd expect from such a band, would they promise to never again return to Cincinnati? Or at least never do monologs about how their brand of mindless pop is more important than anyone else's?

        Second on the bill was Third Eye Blind, another pop-rock band who mixed hits like “Semi-Charmed Life” and “How's It Going to Be” with songs from their upcoming release Crystal Baller, including “Faster,” “I Keep on Forgetting Myself,” and the title track.

        Opener Vanessa Carlton, a young singer-piano player, did a half hour featuring her hit “Thousand Miles,” and a truly wretched cover of “Paint It Black.”


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- Monologs intrude on Goo Goo Dolls' music perfect fit