The Goo Goo Dolls take the BMO Pavilion "by storm" at Summerfest (2024)

After the threat of severe thunderstorms nearly put a kabosh on the third night of Summerfest, The Goo Goo Dolls took the stage at the sold-out BMO Pavilion on June 22 at 10:07 p.m., just slightly more than 30 minutes off schedule.

I had few expectations. Never a die-hard fan, I went into my first Goo Goo concert in the wake of two weeks of listening to playlists filled with a selection of songs from their 14 studio albums to build familiarity with their canon. If I'm honest, I came out wondering what all the fuss was really about.

But there was something about seeing The Goo Goo Dolls live that I can't really explain.

What I can say is that, if music is indeed the language of emotion, there was plenty of neurochemical magic flowing throughout the 90-minute show, which offered the audience a taste of the Goo Goo canon from 1995 through 2023.


The Milwaukee performance featured The Goo Goo Dolls OG members John Rzeznik (vocals, guitar) and Robby Tacak (bass, vocals) along withBrad Fernquist (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals),Craig Macintyre (drums) and Jim McGorman (keyboards, backing vocals).


They kicked off the night with songs from their 1998 hit album “Dizzy Up The Girl”. The hard-rocking “Dizzy” started things off on a lively note followed by“Slide,” the singlefor thealbum which made a comeback when it was used on the2012 season of “The Bachelorette”.

It was also the song thatsparked frontman Rzeznik’s first interaction with the crowd. “I wanna wake up where you are…” he said, “Come'on Milwaukee!” urging the crowd to engage with the song.

“Thank you for waiting’ around!” he continued after the song wrapped up. “I love Milwaukee. And I really love Milwaukee in the summer.”

From there, the band broke into “Big Machine”, one of their finest from the Gutterflower album, with its incredible guitar hooks and lyrics that tackle both “Californication” and the twisted thrill of unrequited love. It made the perfect lead-in for “Black Balloon,” a song accompanied by the release of myriad black balloons, a longtime tradition at Goo Goo shows that still evokes expressions of surprise and delight among the audience members as they bounce the balloons across the venue.


The Goo Goo Dolls got their start as a cover band in 1985, but frontman and guitarist John Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac soon began writing their own songs. Their early post-punk sound got them a deal with heavy metal label Metal Blade, a label with which they released five albums. The releases did well on the college radio circuit and in the Goo Goo's home town of Buffalo, New York. But it would be another 10 years before the band wouldglean national recognition.

“We used to come to Milwaukee all the time and play… in front of no one,” Rzeznik remarked before pausing. “I remember sitting on my couch in Buffalo, thinking about what I was going to do with my life. And I picked up my guitar, and this is what came out,”

He took his acoustic guitar and played a few familiar riffs from “Name”, the hit song from their 1995 release “A Boy Named Goo”. “And now I’m at f*ckin’ Summerfest,” he shouted as he sang the first verse solo, the band joining in for the second half of the song.


It was a masterful example of Rzeznik’s ability to create a connection with the audience, speaking with them as if they were old friends and inspiring compliance with any number of requests.

“And this is where you go crazy!” he proclaimed in the midst of “Name”, and the audience responded with a roar of applause. Rzeznik feigned embarrassment, begging them to stop, but then smiled knowingly and egged them on for more.

And when the song came to a close, he looked out at the crowd: “Thanks for remembering me and keeping our name alive,” he said, the sound of sincerity ringing in his voice.


It’s interesting now to look back at a song like “Name” which peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995. That same year also saw hits from bands like Blue’s Traveler and Collective Soul, bands that quickly faded into infamy by the late 90s. And yet, The Goo Goo Dolls just kept on charting.

Was it their music, with its mix of vocal harmonies, crashing percussion and looping guitar riffs? The familiarity bred by a band whose music has been woven with fibers of inspiration from bands like The Replacements, Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum? Or was it simply the passion they carried –and continue to carry – as they perform, which hasn’t seemed to wane, even after three decades?

“It’s awesome to be here! This is the best music festival in the entire world!,” Rzeznik shouted – without apparent hyperbole – before breaking into “So Alive” with its upbeat lyrics: “For the first time I feel like someone | Breaking down the walls in my own mind | Keeping my faith for the bad times…”

Robby TacakX

Takac’s energy was equally infectious, as he leapt across the stage, threw his arms in the air and — with the most joy-filled smile — made eye contact with the crowd throughout the set.

When “Miracle Pill” ended in a raucous frenzy of guitar, bass and drums, he took the mic. “Hey Milwaukee, he said with a grin. “My socks are still dry. It’s awesome! Close your eyes and picture an antique store. This is an old one!”

From there, he led the crowd into a feel-good dance party of 2000s-era tunes like “Smash”, “Life’s a Message” and “Bringing the Light” before Rzeznik returned with “Better Days” and the ever-popular “Broadway”.

The show’s denoument came as Takac removed a lighter from his pocket, clicked it on and waved it above his head. In the 90s, the crowd would have followed suit. But this is 2024, so – instead –the pavilion filled with the beams of cell phone flashlights, waving in the air like flames.

It was the proper introduction to “Iris,” a song that truly launched The Goo Goo Dolls into the spotlight in 1998 when it spent 11 consecutive months on the Billboard Hot 100. Miraculously, even in 2024, the song still garners over one million streams a day on Spotify.


As Rzeznik sang, fans ran up the aisles to be closer to the stage. The energy in the pavilion buzzed like an electrical circuit, reaching a climax as Rzeznik invited the crowd to perform the final few lines of the song:

“And I don't want the world to see me |'Cause I don't think that they'd understand | When everything's made to be broken | I just want you to know who I am"

(You know the rest.)

Suffice it to say, a concert that began with the threat of thunder and lightning ended with an even bigger bang, leaving Summerfest fans with memories of a show that won’t soon be forgotten.

“Dizzy” (Dizzy up the Girl, 1998)
“Slide” (Dizzy up the Girl, 1998)
“Big Machine” (Gutterflower, 2002)
“Black Balloon” (Dizzy up the Girl, 1998)
“Home” (Something for the Rest of Us, 2010)
“Here is Gone” (Gutterflower, 2002)
“So Alive” (Boxes, 2016)
“Going Crazy” (Chaos In Bloom, 2022)
“Miracle Pill” (Miracle Pill, 2019)
“Smash” (Gutterflower, 2002)
“Over and Over” (Boxes, 2016)
“Sympathy” (Gutterflower, 2002)
“Name” (A Boy Named Goo, 1995)
“Come to Me” (Magnetic, 2013)
“Let Love In” (Let Love In, 2005)
“Run All Night” (2023 single)
“Life’s a Message” (Miracle Pill, 2019)
“Bringing on the Light” (Magnetic, 2013)
“Better Days” (Let Love In, 2005)
“Broadway” (Dizzy up the Girl, 1998)
“Iris” (Dizzy up the Girl, 1998)

The Goo Goo Dolls take the BMO Pavilion "by storm" at Summerfest (2024)


What is the biggest hit of the Goo Goo Dolls? ›

The band is renowned for their 1998 single, "Iris", which spent 11 consecutive months on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked atop the Hot 100 Airplay chart for 18 weeks. In October 2012, "Iris" placed first on Billboard's "Top 100 Pop Songs 1992–2012" chart.

What kind of music is Goo Goo Dolls? ›

Goo Goo Dolls is an alternative rock band formed in 1985 in Buffalo, New York, USA by guitarist/vocalist John Rzeznik and bassist/vocalist Robby Takac initially under the name the Sex Maggots (the new name was chosen from an ad in True Detective magazine at the behest of a local club owner).

Who opens for Goo Goo Dolls? ›

Additional information and complete tour dates for Goo Goo Dolls shows supported by Fitz and the Tantrums, and O.A.R.

What movie is Goo Goo Dolls Slide? ›

What is the number one song on the Goo Goo Dolls? ›

"Iris" is the Goo Goo Dolls' signature song and has received critical acclaim, being described as a "ubiquitous" staple for the band's live sets.

What is the meaning behind the song name by Goo Goo Dolls? ›

In her book The Kennedy Chronicles, former MTV VJ Kennedy claimed that the song was actually about her complicated relationship with Rzeznik, with the lyrics referring to their time together and her full name being a secret to most.

Are the Goo Goo Dolls any good? ›

Their discography has such a great range that there really is something for everyone, whether that's a quintessential nineties' rock-and-roll hit or a heartbreakingly beautiful acoustic ballad.

What were the Goo Goo Dolls called before? ›

The Goo Goo Dolls were formed in Buffalo, NY, in 1985 by guitarist/vocalist Johnny Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac, and drummer George Tutuska, initially under the name the Sex Maggots.

Are the Goo Goo Dolls worth seeing live? ›

The Goo Goo Dolls Reviews. Great show featuring many deep cuts, although the video portion opening up after a short break could have been left out. I've seen this band over 50 times, and they are great live performers! Wow what a fabulous show, the hometown boys Rocked it.

Are the Goo Goo Dolls married? ›

John Rzeznik has said “I do” to girlfriend Melina Gallo. The Goo Goo dolls frontman was married Friday in Malibu in front of his bandmates and 120 guests, People reports. The couple has been together since 2005. “We've been together a while and I'm not going anywhere and we'd like to start a family.

Who is the front man for the Goo Goo Dolls? ›

Is Goo Goo Dolls touring in 2024? ›

The Goo Goo Dolls will be performing near you at Kansas State Fair Grandstand on Saturday 07 September 2024 as part of their tour, and are scheduled to play 10 concerts across 2 countries in 2024-2025. View all concerts.

Did Goo Goo Dolls play in the rain? ›

Goo Goo Dolls playing Iris in the pouring rain in Buffalo 2004 was a cultural reset.

What is a Goo Goo Dolls meaning? ›

“[Goo Goo Dolls] doesn't really mean anything … The first name was bad, so we moved on to another bad name, got 15,000 fans, and were afraid to change it … At the time, we thought [the name] was just really inappropriate for what we were doing in that post-punk era that we were sort of wallowing around in.”

Are the Goo Goo Dolls punk? ›

The Goo Goo Dolls started as a punk trio in 1986, fired their original drummer over a pay dispute before scoring a hit with 1995′s Replacements-evoking "Name." The band's big breakthrough came with the enduring smash "Iris" from the soundtrack to the 1998 movie "City of Angels." "Iris" spent a record of 18 weeks at No.

What was the Goo Goo Dolls first big hit? ›

The Dolls had their first hit with a song titled “Name,” but it was a song from a movie that really launched them into stardom. Formed in 1986, it was almost a decade later that the Goo Goo Dolls became a household name.

Are the Goo Goo Dolls a one hit wonder? ›

But it was in 1998 that the Goo Goo Dolls proved that they were not destined to be a “one hit wonder.” In that year Rzeznik penned “Iris,” which originally appeared on the City Of Angels soundtrack, and was also included on the band's sixth album Dizzy Up The Girl.

Who was the biggest 90s rock band? ›

1. Nirvana. No list of 90s bands would be complete without mentioning Nirvana, the epitome of the grunge movement. Led by the enigmatic Kurt Cobain, Nirvana's raw energy and introspective lyrics resonated with an entire generation.

What happened to John Rzeznik's face? ›

John Rzeznik Face Lift Rumors

Critics and fans alike speculate that Rzeznik might have undergone this procedure to maintain his youthful appearance. Face lifts are designed to reduce sagging, wrinkles, and other signs of aging, providing a more rejuvenated and refreshed look.

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