“We’re glad to see you’re keeping it weird like you promised,” Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac cracked a few songs into the Goo Goo Dolls’ set at the Statesman Skyline Amphitheater on Sunday. Given the increasing laments about Austin losing its weirdness, one might have taken his comment for sarcasm.
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It probably wasn’t, though. In their early days, Takac and his partner-in-mayhem John Rzeznik seemed more inclined toward cynicism, in keeping with the punk-fueled fury of their first records. But over three decades, the Goo Goo Dolls mellowed out a lot musically, en route to scoring big hits with acoustic-based pop tunes such as “Name” and “Iris.”
That seems to have carried over to their personalities as well. Rzeznik engaged the crowd early on with a feel-good vibe. “Tonight is a perfect summer night,” he observed, basking in the balmy mid-’80s temperatures and encouraging everyone to lose themselves in the moment: “Once we step out of this contained area,” he said, “we’re all going back into the (expletive) crazy.”
Not that the band can’t still rock out when the songs call for it. Takac remains one of the most entertaining bassists in the biz, running wind-sprints across the stage and occasionally circling the entire ensemble of keyboardist Korel Tunador, drummer Craig Macintyre and guitarist Brad Fernquist. The three supporting players added power and texture to standouts such as “Over and Over,” one of five tracks played from the new “Boxes” album, and “Already There” from 1993’s “Superstar Car Wash.”
Before the latter, Takac mentioned that the band had played Liberty Lunch around the time “Superstar Car Wash” came out. Even earlier, they played at a smaller long-gone haunt, Sixth Street’s Cannibal Club. They reached back to 1990’s “Hold Me Up” for a cover of Prince’s “Never Take the Place of Your Man,” with Takac taking the lead vocal sung on the record by late Buffalo lounge legend the Incredible Lance Diamond.
Late in the show, Rzeznik almost apologized for the band having chilled out over the years, introducing his romantic proposal ballad “Come to Me” (from 2013’s “Magnetic”) as “probably the gooiest love song I’ve ever written.” By that point, most everyone was awaiting the smash hit “Iris,” which got many in the audience singing along gleefully.
Atlanta rock band Collective Soul also had folks singing along at times, most notably to their breakthrough hit “Shine” and “The World I Know,” which they dedicated to those lost on Sept. 11, 2001, on the 15th anniversary of that day. Opening the evening was New York fivesome Tribe Society, who diverged from the usual guitar-rock template by adding a flute player into the mix.
Goo Goo Dolls set list:
1. Over and Over
2. Long Way Down
4. Big Machine
5. Rebel Beat
6. Here Is Gone
7. Black Balloon
9. Bringing on the Light
11. So Alive
13. Souls in the Machine
14. Better Days
15. Already There
16. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
17. Come to Me
18. The Pin
19. Stay With You
22. Long Way Home