Last Night: Goo Goo Dolls & Michelle Branch At The Woodlands
Phiotos by Matthew Keever
Goo Goo Dolls, Michelle Branch, Parachute Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion August 13, 2011
The Goo Goo Dolls, Michelle Branch and Parachutes made an interesting lineup at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion Sunday night. The bill sounded more like a mini-music festival from a time long past, featuring one band you haven't really heard of (yet).
At least, that's what Aftermath thought going in. By the time we left, we had gained respect for a group of up-and-comers we had never heard of before, developed a crush on Michelle Branch and realized that the Goo Goo Dolls are absolutely nothing like we remember them.
Now, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, going into the show, we had this idea in our heads of the Goo Goo Dolls as alt-rockers from our youth whose fan base was closer to John Mayer's than that of a modern-day punk outfit. By that, we mean that we assumed most of their fans were female. Come to find out, that isn't the case.
Now, as most popular bands tend to, the Goo Goo Dolls have plenty of female fans, but their live performance - and their overall repertoire, actually - isn't composed primarily of radio-friendly alt-rock. Far from it, actually. Their tunes are poppy, sure, but they're a lot punkier than the well-known songs like "Iris," "Black Balloon" and "Broadway." After a little research (and a tweet or two), we found that the Goo have actually been compared to renowned punk acts, such as The Replacements.
In fact, Replacements singer Paul Westerberg co-wrote "We Are the Normal." That was back in the early '90s, though, and the Goos' style has changed a lot since then. But while they may be much more radio-friendly these days, they still warrant much more appreciation than we had given them before last night's show, which kept our hearts light, our ears open and our eyes dazzled with a lavish light show.
The only real drawback of the show came near the end, when someone in the crowd made a comment about Johnny Rzeznik's sunglasses, to which the singer tersely responded, "Fuck off." Rzeznik then told the crowd that he was "not trying to be somebody I'm not" and that he wasn't trying to be a big rock star by wearing shades at night; he was just hung over.
Well, that's that then. And even if he was trying to be a big rock star, if the shoe fits...
Before the boys named Goo, Michelle Branch put on a soulful, energetic performance accompanied only by a bassist and a guitarist. We don't need no stinkin' drums, here! All eyes were on the talented young lady, who kept the crowd dancing. A few of them even stood up and did "the sprinkler," gaining Branch's attention.
"Did you guys just do the sprinkler?" Branch asked a couple of girls in the middle of the crowd. After the two girls responded in the affirmative, Branch added, with a laugh, "You guys must really like me if you're willing to do 'the sprinkler' in public."
Branch also asked the crowd to keep Indiana concertgoers in their prayers. Mentioning the stage collapse before Sugarland's set at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis earlier in the weekend, where five people have now been confirmed dead and dozens were injured. The singer added that she had played that very stage before.
It was a brief but well-deserved aside in a night otherwise filled only with smiles, laughs and upbeat music.
The opening act, Parachute (above), also put on quite a show. Their draw wasn't nearly as strong as those of Branch or the Dolls, but their performance was both convincing and promising. The young Virginia natives might not yet have as established of a fan base, but they're on the way. And if their act was any implication, they're more than willing to put in the work needed to get there.
Personal Bias: We only bought one Goo Goo Dolls album, Dizzy Up the Girl, but we remember it fondly. After seeing them live more than a decade later, we are now considering giving them another listen.
Overheard In the Crowd: Just before performing "Iris," Rzeznik said, "You know we've got to play this one," and a young woman in the audience muttered, "Yeah, because it's the only one anyone knows."
Random Notebook Dump: We may now have a crush on Michelle Branch, but she needn't worry... we're harmless.
Goo Goo Dolls: