Surprise! Matchbox Twenty Were Terrible Last Night. The Goo Goo Dolls Were Good, Though.
The Goo Goo Dolls. Photo by Chapman Baehler
The age old dilemma of having one band on the bill you (kind of, sort of, used to) like and one you (pretty much) hate was thrust upon me Wednesday night at Gexa Energy Pavilion. Back in the early '90s, I found the Goo Goo Dolls to have that same devil-may-care attitude of the Replacements. Sure, Goo music wasn't as interesting as the 'Mats and songwriter/singer John Rzeznick has none of Paul Westerberg's cloy wordplay, but nothing's perfect.
I grew to like the Goo Goo Dolls. I even liked it when they got all emotionally acoustic and scored an unlikely hit with "Name." I even liked it when "Iris" went through the roof even though the movie it was in really sucked. But then every song became a power ballad or a cover of a song that didn't need to be covered. The power ballad well soon ran dry and the most recent releases were catchy at best and vacuous at worst.
What about Matchbox Twenty? Music for yuppies was my first inclination. Rob Thomas' vocals always struck me as obnoxious and overwrought, like Eddie Vedder as the president of some frat house in Austin. Some folks claim that the band plays a radio friendly version of grunge. Case closed.
So with temperatures hovering close to 100 and with the lowest expectations imaginable, I made my way to the shade as quickly as possible and prepared for the onslaught.
The Goo Goo Dolls were OK. Equal doses power pop and power balladry, the augmented trio played the expected hits, only a few new songs and that mundane version of Supertramp's "Give a Little Bit" (a song that was mundane when it was first released back in 1977).
And while the new songs sounded better live (especially the single "Rebel Beat"), it was the older tunes that held sway. "Naked," "Another Second Time Around" and "Slide" were performed early in the evening and showed John Rzeznik and crew on top of their game. Looking quite a bit younger than 47, Rzeznik was funny and engaging throughout.
"How are you guys doing out on the lawn?" he asked before strumming the opening chords of "Name." "Out there is where all the interesting shit happens."