Goo Goo Dolls played Leader Bank Pavilion – 8/16

Alt-rock/power-pop stalwarts Goo Goo Dolls headlined a packed Pavilion on Tuesday night.

Eight-year-old me, circa the year 2000, really had no business rocking out to “Broadway,” the deceptively catchy 5th single from the Goo Goo Dolls ’98 LP Dizzy Up the Girl, as much as I did. That chorus hooked me, but frontman Johnny Rzeznik’s lament of the cyclical nature of substance abuse was very much lost on me at the time. Like Third Eye Blind’s buoyant depiction of the highs and lows of crystal meth usage on their monster single “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Broadway” is one of those hits of the era whose melodicism probably tricked a lot of people into not listening too close. That is, of course, what still makes it such a great song.

Like much of the other music I listened to in my mom’s car around the millennium, however, Dizzy fell out of rotation in favor of some other CD of the week, and eventually for bands I deemed cooler than this one. I didn’t think much about “Broadway” (or “Iris” or “Slide”) for a number of years, only to come around one day, when the haze of twentysomething music guy pretension had begun to clear from my head, and remember that record (and the others from the band’s heyday) actually had a bunch of great songs.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that, having welcomed the Goo Goo Dolls back into my life sometime around 2020, I had to take advantage of my first post-pandemic opportunity to see them play, which happened to be Tuesday night at Boston’s waterfront Bankname Pavilion.

I arrived a bit too late to photograph openers and fellow late-90s alt-rockers Blue October, but they seemed to command some solid engagement of a crowd that truly spanned every walk of life. There were moms and dads, representatives of the backwards-hatted bro contingent, and even a guy in a Webbed Wing t-shirt among the near-sellout crowd. The Goo Goo Dolls are for everyone, and decades on, their fanbase remains robust.

The band has been busy in the interim, too, releasing a steady clip of new records (even a Christmas album, bafflingly), racking up some modest hits and writing to the soundtracks of multiple Michael Bay Transformers films. Their fourteenth (!) and latest LP, Chaos In Bloom, dropped just last week, and while some of its studio polish betrays a certain degree of radio-reaching concession, the foundational songcraft of Rzeznik and co-founding bassist Robby Takac still shines through.

So, suffice to say, the band was not wanting for material to cover a 90-plus minute set. They reached back to their scrappy early days with a Superstar Car Wash cut, stirred hearts with “Name” and “Sympathy,” worked in a few new songs and, yes, made me feel a type of way by playing “Broadway.” Inevitably though, main set closer “Iris” felt like the emotional centerpiece of the night. Oasis-like in its nonspecific profundity and irresistible sweep, “Iris” is understandably the band’s biggest song, and feels like the biggest song when they play it. If 5,000 people singing that chorus at the volume of a PA system doesn’t move something in you…I dunno man.

Rzeznik and Takac, the sole official Goo Goo Dolls since the 2013 departure of drummer Mike Malinin, are veteran performers, and know how to work the hits and everything else for a crowd. Their enthusiasm felt boundless, and with a solid backing band and the alluring grit of Rzeznik’s voice undiminished, they sounded great too. For a die-hard or a re-emerging fan of yore, I can’t imagine anyone left unsatisfied.

Scroll below for a gallery from the soundboard.