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By Erica Murphy
Contributing Writer
Published: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The lights flickered in streams of red and white. The intimacy that would encompass the next two hours settled in. As people strolled in at the last second, a relaxed atmosphere took over.

Once the pulsing lights faded into blaring music, applause and cheers echoed through the theater.

The Goo Goo Dolls took center stage and began with a new single, "Sweetest Lie." A rock-like banner sat behind the band and fog poured onto stage. With the gray mist rolling in, the theater mimicked a typical cloudy Syracuse day. The band's performance at the Oncenter's Crouse-Hinds Concert Theater Tuesday night was the second stop of its fall 2010 tour.

No stranger to the Syracuse area, the rock band's return was as much an intimate homecoming as it was a concert. Solidifying the message that the concert was a shout-out to the band's hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., crowd members chanted "Buffalo" to the band.

After the opening, lead singer John Rzeznik introduced the band and said it was good to be back. He asked the crowd to refrain from being shy, which further accentuated the relaxed feel.

Accepting Rzeznik's invitation, fans gradually swayed to songs, thrust their hands into the air and moved them to the music.

Rzeznik and bass guitarist Robby Takac were actually close enough to touch audience members' hands in the more than 2,000-seat theater. The front row was inches from the stage, and someone could have easily hopped up.

As the crowd moved together, the intimate setting started meaning more to some than to others.

"We drove five hours to here for our 25th anniversary," said Jill Chuli from Ontario, Canada, about her and her husband. "We tried for a cruise, but this was the next best thing."

Chuli also mentioned how the Goo Goo Dolls appealed to a wide variety of people. Originating in the ‘80s, older fans knew the Goo Goo Dolls just as well as their teenage counterparts. The band just released a new album in August. "Slide," which was part of its three-song opener, was released in 1998. A middle-aged man was belting out the lyrics just as honestly as a teenage girl present with her mother.

Taking the time to talk to the audience in between songs kept the conversation going with the crowd. When the Goo Goo Dolls weren't talking, they dazzled the crowd with new and old tunes.

When Takac gave his introduction barefoot, he commented on how he always thought Syracuse had intelligent school colors.

"They put the drunken college kids in safety orange. What could be smarter than that?" said Takac. He received muffled chuckles.

As the Goo Goo Dolls sang each song, the band revealed where its lyrics originated from. Rzeznik spoke about how he didn't even shave when he wrote "Name." Then as he began "Better Days," he told the audience this song was for everyone and they were all lucky to be there together.

While Rzeznik sang most of the band's numbers, Takac performed a few of his vocals to the audience. "All Eyes on Me" and "Tucked Away" were part of his set list.

When favorites like "Name" began, the audience members responded by throwing their lighters in the air. Once the crowd heard the first notes of "Black Balloon," it began tossing black balloons upward. Through its preparation, the band further established the intimate connection.

"I think the venue is really good because it's smaller," said Tara Blum, a Syracuse resident. "I give it two thumbs up."

The Goo Goo Dolls ended with "Iris," but it didn't take long to be followed with an encore, which happened only 30 seconds later. The band played a two-song encore, the first of which was "Not Broken" from its newest album. The entire performance ended with "Broadway." The crowd lingered, not wanting to leave the theater. The nearly-full venue was up and dancing to the music.

Screaming out the lyrics, the crowd was not shy about demonstrating its passion toward the band.

The show began just as it had ended. The Goo Goo Dolls held the stage with a light air. Its manner perfected after 24 years of touring around the world.

"They sang well live," said Matthew Matruski, a sophomore television, radio and film and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises major at Syracuse University. "It was definitely cool to see the people that my parents played for me when I was younger."

Emmurp08@syr.edu


Encore


"Sweetest Lie" - 4 - It was an upbeat song to start off the show, but I was not familiar with the words, so I had to wait a little to get into the concert.

"Big Machine" - 5 - One of my favorite Goo Goo Dolls songs, and it was even better live.

"Slide" - 5 - The greatest part about seeing a band like the Goo Goo Dolls is that you always know they aren't lip-synching. This song had a little extra, which made it that much better.

"Everything You Are" - 3 - Rzeznik slowed the tempo down a little bit, but I wanted more action.

"Here is Gone" - 5 - It's impossible not to love a classic.

"Another Second Time Around" - 4 - This is your typical Goo Goo Dolls song, and it sounds great live.

"Smash" - 4 - It was a pretty good song, but I didn't know the words.

"One Night" - 5 - This song is from the new album and persuaded me to put part of my paycheck toward it.
"Black Balloon" - 5 - It is always great when the crowd starts throwing things in the air, especially when they are black balloons.

"Home" - 5 - The lyrics were really touching, and it was easy to feel the emotion.

"Better Days" - 5 - This song is wonderful because it gets you to realize that your day may suck, but someone else is having a bad day, too.

"Stay With You" - 4 - A little below average, based on Goo Goo Dolls standards.

"Something For The Rest of Us" - 5 - This was a great song, but it made all the single people realize they were single - depressing.

"Now I Hear" - 5 - This song definitely showcases the true Goo Goo Dolls sound.

"Tucked Away" - 3 - This song was pretty hard to understand, especially because I wasn't familiar with it.

"Name" - 5 - Another one of my favorites, and he wrote it when he didn't even shave. Who wouldn't love that?

"Let Love In" - 5 - In the state of our country, these words of wisdom really relate to people around the world.

"As I Am" - 4 - Definitely motivational.

"All Eyes on Me" - 3 - An OK song on the record and a little better live, but still not a favorite.

"Iris" - 5 - Classics are always the best, and this was no exception.

"Not Broken" - 3 - A little boring for the encore.

"Broadway" - 5 - I couldn't have asked for a better finale performance.
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