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Goo Goo Dolls with O.A.R. and THE BIG NIGHT OUT TOUR

Northwell Health At Jones Beach Theater

Wantagh, NY

August 5, 2023

By Mike Perciaccante

Buffalo, NY’s, Goo Goo Dolls came together in 1986. The band at that time was comprised of guitarist and vocalist John Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac and drummer George Tutuska. The band’s name was inspired by an ad for a toy in True Detective  magazine.

Mercenary Records signed the group and in 1987 released the Goo Goo Dolls’ eponymously titled debut album. At the time, Takac tackled the majority of the vocals because (believe it or not) Rzeznik was shy and reluctant to sing. In 1989, the band’s second album Jed was by Metal Blade Records. It was followed in 1990 by Hold Me Up  also on Metal Blade Records.  Hold Me Up  featured Rzeznik singing lead on five tracks. The band’s first major label release was Superstar Car Wash (Warner Brothers Records) in 1993. The album featured the track the critically praised “We Are The Normal” (co-written by Rzeznik and Paul Westerberg) and provided the Goo Goo Dolls with quite a bit of attention in the media. During it’s career, the Goo Goo Dolls has scored 19 Top 10 singles and sold over 15 million albums worldwide. Its last studio CD, Chaos in Bloom on Warner Brothers Records in 2022.

There have been a number of personnel changes since 1986. Tutuska left in 1995. His replacement, Mike Malinin, manned the drums until he departed in 2013. The “band” is now down to a twosome (Rzeznik and Takac) who’s live performances are augmented by touring musicians Brad Fernquist (guitar and mandolin since 2006), Jim McGorman (keyboards, guitar and saxophone since 2018) and Craig Macintyre (drums since 2014).

Rockville, MD's O.A.R. (an abbreviation for the band's full name, Of A Revolution), was formed in 1996. Four of the band members grew up in Rockville, Maryland, and attended Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School. After graduating, they went on to study at Ohio State University where they metsaxophonist/guitarist Jerry DePizzo who hails from Youngstown, Ohio. The band consists of lead vocalist/guitarist Marc Roberge, drummer Chris Culos, guitarist Richard On, bassist Benj Gershman, DePizzo, and touring members, trumpet player Jon Lampley and keyboardist Mikel Paris.

O.A.R.’s music can best be described as a genre melding mixture of rock, reggae, indie rock with a little bit of punk, some roots rock, pop, blues and a happy helping of good old American jamband. Over the course of its career, O.A.R. has released 10 studio albums and six live albums as well as an EP and a “best of” compilation. O.A.R.’s most recent release, The Arcade was released by Black Rock Recorded Music in 2022.

On a pleasant Saturday evening following a blisteringly hot an humid week that featured temperatures in the mid-90s, both the Goo Goo Dolls and O.A.R. rocked the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. Fans of both bands were treated to the musical experience that they were hoping for when they purchased their tickets.

The evening’s festivities began when O.A.R. took the stage. The band’s performance was so ferocious that it seemed as though the players didn’t want to relinquish their hold on it. Opening the show by reaching back into its history with “Love And Memories,” from 2005’s Stories Of A Stranger (Lava Records), O.A.R. delivered a stunning 14-song set.

The set included hits such as “This Town;” “Shattered (Turn The Car Around);” “Hey Girl,” from Soul’s Aflame (Orafin Records, 1999); an epic version of “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker,” during which the faithful showered the other fans in attendance with multiple decks of playing cards; “Heaven” (which featured the Garden Of Dreams Foundation singers); “I Go Through;” a stunning cover of Billy Joel’s “Downeaster Alexa” (which was only fitting as the storied outdoor venue is, after-all, located on Long Island, not far from Joel’s home base in nearby Oyster Bay) and a somber version of “Peace.” The band’s stellar performance ended with a wonderful rendition of “Night Shift…Stir It Up.”

After a short intermission, the Goo Goo Dolls appeared on stage. Unfortunately, Rzeznik was confined to a walking boot and spent most of the night singing from what appeared to be a very comfortable chair. This, however, was a minor setback as the band delivered an amazing and fun 24-song main set.

The band is obviously fans of the “Go Big Or Go Home” theory of performing as it opened its show with the megahit “Broadway.” Though his foot was obviously not allowing him to bop around the stage, Rzeznik metaphorically put the “pedal to the metal” as the Goo Goo Dolls roared through the next four tunes: “Over and Over,” “Slide,” “Big Machine” (from the 2002 Warner Brothers Records release Gutterflower) and “Here Is Gone”—making an amazing opening quintet of hits as a powerful way to announce the group’s presence. The night’s main set also included “Yeah I Like You” from the Goo Goo’s latest release Chaos in Bloom; “So Alive;” “Lucky Star” (with Takac handing the lead vocals which brought the audience back to 1993 and Superstar Car Wash); “Name” (which according to legend, Rzeznik wrote about MTV personality Kennedy); “Dizzy:” “Bringing on The Light” which was followed by a cover of Supertramp’s “Give A Little Bit that featured Jerry DePizzo) and the set closing “Better Days” and “Stay With You.”

The spectacular evening ended with encores that consisted of a wonderful and amazing tribute to Tom Petty—a cover of “I Won’t Back Down” that featured Marc Roberge and the evening’s final performance, the mega-hit “Iris” (which brought the crowd to its feet, singing along with the band).

Throughout the evening, it was apparent that Rzeznik (even though his movements were compromised due to his injury) and Takac were having a blast. The duo fed off each other’s energy as well as that of other players and the crowd. They spent the evening performing with huge smiles spread across their faces expertly weaving and intermingling older tunes with newer songs. The Goo Goo Dolls provided the audience with an amazing journey through its extensive musical canon.

As the last notes faded into the bay, the crowd beat a hasty retreat for some retail therapy to gobble-up T-Shirts, CDs, DVDs, caps and the like. Members of the audience, many seen wearing older concert shirts from both bands, were heard happily singing both band’s signature songs as they departed the venue.


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