It might help to think of this summer package tour as a sandwich. Buffalo New York's Goo Goo Dolls is pretty much the white bread. Not exactly Wonder Bread, but something with a bit of taste. Like sourdough. The trio (touring with a keyboardist and second guitarist) slogged it out in its early days as a post-Replacements, punk-inspired bar band. It took a while, but when the band had a light-rock hit with "Name," suddenly it was a sensitive and introspective person's rock group. With its latest, Dizzy Up the Girl, the band continues to mine tough-tender lyrics and hits the mark on occasion. The sound's just not all that diverse.
The cheese of this tour comes courtesy of Sugar Ray, a Southern California band which inexplicably rode the success of last summer's "Fly" into what looks like a career of dumb, post-frat-boy alternarock, as this summer's hit "Every Morning" proves. Perhaps it's singer Mark McGrath's Cosmo cover-boy looks, because it sure isn't the music. This is a band that titled its latest record 14:59 in reference to its 15 minutes of fame on the wane. My watch stopped 14 minutes ago.
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For the meat, there's Austin's Fastball, whose one hit, "The Way," is probably the worst song on All the Pain Money Can Buy. Smart and well-versed in pop songwriting, Fastball is a workhorse, mainstream flavor. Like turkey. Heavy on the muscle-building protein and very satisfying.
What little spice there is on this bill comes from Frogpond, a little postgrunge, female-led trio, which will perform on a second stage. And like Tabasco sauce, this band is there if you need it.
Overall, this tour isn't a full meal. But it should tide you over until a Bruce Springsteen concert.
The Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar Ray, Fastball and Frogpond perform Saturday, September 4, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18.50 and $28.50. Call (713)629-3700.