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When receiving word we were covering this show, immediately I was excited. The sound of large names in the industry is a sure fire way to get people to read, but overall I think it’s also a way to experience real music in all it’s glory and help to compare and contrast other bands to these artists who have been touring and honing their skills for decades now. The bands of the day all had their place on the big stage, all had talent, all gave off this aura of musical bliss be it in a guitar strum, a simple piano solo or a grin while closing their eyes to listen to us, the crowd and fall into their art. Every face in the crowd was a mesh of different age, race, and status. Children clutching to their parents shy to the camera but not the band. The crowd sang along giving that feeling of love and admiration for the artists.

First on stage was Parachute, a sly ensemble of five gentlemen who play an array of instruments that lead to a unique and stellar sound. I love to see a band touring at this caliber on stage with a piano, tambourine and a saxophone. And they are CD quality live. Lead singer, Will Anderson has an amazing falsetto voice and infectious smile throughout the set. A simple stage set up with not much more than their piano had an American flag draped over it. This simplistic approach gave the band time to shine for what the crowd was there for, talent. Parachute was a fun band to watch on stage their interactions with the fans, intertwined with beautiful well-crafted songs flowing out of the amps. There were more guitars swinging, jumping and Indian shoes that one could shake a stick at. If you are a fan of Matchbox 20’s writing or Gavin Degraw’s powerful vocals, this band is one you’ll like.

After we were thoroughly rocked out by Parachute, on to the stage descended Michelle Branch. She is one of those stars with a name you can be talking to just about anyone and they will know who she is. The exotic beauty shimmered across the stage with her hat flapping in her face to every beat and guitar pluck. She’s been on the scene now since 1998 and has a Grammy Award under her belt from when she did the song “The Game of Love” with legendary guitar player Carlos Santana.  After hearing her hit singles “Everywhere” and “Breathe,” she asked the audience for a little help. Apparently someone in the 704 area code has been prank calling her phone for over a year now. “I know you are probably out there in the crowd and I was wondering if you would like to make a truce?  No more prank calls and I’ll give you a shout out.” Of course no one fessed up, but it was pretty funny. Her set was a conglomerate of her biggest hits and we also got to hear her new single “Spark” off her upcoming album to be named West Coast Time that will be released in September. Her live show is absolute perfection. The emotionalism in her voice and lyrics makes for a special time.

The final band of the night, the one most came out to see, New York rockers, Goo Goo Dolls know how to put on a show. What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think of the Goo Goo Dolls? Is it masterful songwriting, soundtrack gold, powerful vocals, pop music, rock music or the fact they’ve withstood all the music industry has thrown at them and survived? Maybe it’s something as simple as that lead singer has some amazing hair, but if you overlook the talent and glow that is The Goo Goo Dolls, you are missing out. The alternative rockers have been around long enough to give us 14 top-10 singles and have sold nearly 9 million albums in the United States.

To start the show there were huge gray curtains covering the entire view of the stage. Once in a while someone would poke their hand through the curtain to some screams, the sun had slowly crept behind and the moon surfaced leaving the lights on stage to shine like beacons of hope. The curtain raised to a massive stage set up of what seemed a thousand lights and a drum riser. Beams of light shot different colors through the crowd and sky and after a few moments of heated anticipation the band entered the stage area to give us a spectacular show. Lead singer, Johnny Rzeznik and the rest of the band tore into their opening song “Last Hot Night in America” to screaming fans and I admit I had a smile on my face. Their 20 song set was long and plentiful with songs selected from most every album they’ve ever had giving the fans that diversity in a set that everyone is always screaming for from bands.

It’s hard to believe the band started all the way back in 1986, but how they perform shows they’ve done this that long. The next song to be played was a fan favorite, “Slide.” Bassist, Robby Takac was doing it all over the place. His huge smile from start to finish was precious. The entire band loves those moments with their fans and are there to please the masses, it shows in every movement on stage. The alternative rockers are in the process of writing their next full length album and you can keep up with its process by following them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/googoodolls
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