Goo Goo Dolls, famous for songs like Slide, Black Balloon and my personal favorite Iris, came to Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on Friday, 8/12, to support their latest album Boxes, with Collective Soul as their main support. Tribe Society were the opening act, but nightmare traffic turned our commute into a 3-hour odyssey and we weren’t able to catch them, so we’ll talk briefly about Collective Soul and Goo Goo Dolls.
We’ll start with Collective Soul, who I have been a huge fan of for a long, long time, but have never had a chance to see live. To be honest, if Collective Soul were not on this tour, I’m probably doing something else on a Friday night, but I had an excuse to see both them AND Goo Goo Dolls, so I ran with it and made my trek from Coney Island to Jones Beach to catch one of my favorite bands, and stick around for the headliner. It’s not often I do that, go to a show for the support. The only other time I’ve ever done that was when Motley Crue was supporting KISS a few years back, in a life before photography. Call me crazy for covering a show just to see a band play 10 songs, but Collective Soul was worth every second in traffic just for those 10 songs.
Collective Soul would, of course, open with Heavy, the song that made me a fan way back in 1999, and hearing it live for the first time was an experience. Normally I don’t really listen to the first 3 songs because I’m in the photo pit trying to capture worthy moments, of which there were plenty as 53 year old Ed Roland flies around the stage like a 20-something, all the while kicking ass on the mic, but I found myself singing along to Heavy right off the bat. The band would also play Contagious and AYTA (Are You The Answer), which comes off their latest album, 2015’s See What You Started By Continuing. The surprise of their set was the omission of This, which is arguably their biggest hit off their most recent studio effort, though the band would play what is without question their biggest hit ever, Shine from their 1993 debut album Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, and that was by far one of the most incredible live performances I’ve ever seen. I have a cell phone video it floating around somewhere, but I’d rather not embarrass myself with my poor singing in the background, so I’ll stick to photos for this one. Collective Soul’s set would ultimately end with The World I Know, but Ed Roland did mention that they’re working on a new album that should be out next year, so here’s hoping they come back and do a full set next summer.
Finally it was time for Goo Goo Dolls to take the stage for what would turn out to be a 22-song marathon performance from John Rzeznik, Robby Takac (the only two official members since drummer Mike Malinin left in 2013) and their backing band. What would start with Over and Over, Long Way Down and Slide would just be the beginning of an incredible journey into the band’s history and their new album, Boxes, which they were supporting on this tour. Eventually they would get Here Is Gone and Black Balloon, to the approval of what turned out to be a near-capacity crowd before playing Name and So Alive and then some new material. Goo Goo Dolls would also play an interesting cover of Prince’s I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man, which was very well done.
It wasn’t until their third-to-last song that Goo Goo Dolls would give the crowd what they wanted by playing their unquestioned biggest hit in Iris, as the drunk guy behind me so loudly screamed for during the better part of an hour, and not until after John Rzeznik got into a bit of an argument with some dude in the front row who was apparently unhappy that his girlfriend forced him to attend a Goo Goo Dolls show, a sight that was quite entertaining as Rzeznik politely destroyed the guy before getting back to the show. Goo Goo Dolls would ultimately close with Long Way Home (the irony is strong in this one) as the crowd began to shuffle towards the exit signs.
I’ve always wanted to see Goo Goo Dolls live, just once, because Iris is one of those songs you absolutely have to hear live once before you die. On this night, though, Collective Soul stole the show for me with a short-but-epic performance. That’s not to say Goo Goo Dolls were not good; in fact, the opposite is true. I was a bit skeptical about seeing Goo Goo Dolls live outdoors, in the middle of the ocean, but the mostly-acoustic set was well-executed and definitely did not disappoint. It’s rare, however, that a support act can deliver a performance that exceeds their headlining counterpart, and maybe that’s personal preference as hard rock and electric guitars run in my blood. Make no mistake, though, that while Collective Soul kicked ass, Goo Goo Dolls are where your money’s at, with no shortage of songs to give any fan the most bang for their buck. Most bands don’t play 22 songs anymore, mostly because most bands today don’t have 22 songs worth playing; the fact that Goo Goo Dolls have that much quality material to compile a set list as long as the one they’re playing on this tour speaks volumes to their longevity and talent as a band, and definitely did not disappoint on this night.
Check out the Goo Goo Dolls gallery below: