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“This song was supposed to make us famous, but it didn’t,” the Goo Goo Dolls’ singer-guitarist Johnny said Tuesday at the Whisky in introducing “There You Are.” The remark typifies the Buffalo trio’s self-deprecating, utterly unpretentious attitude, and the 1990 non-hit embodies the Buffalo band’s oeuvre : anthemic, thrashing attack buoyed by ringing hooks and harmonies, expressive of adolescent yearning and confusion.

If the Dolls haven’t found their place in the sun, it might be because they’re doing their spirited stuff deep in the stylistic shadow of the Replacements. Of course, with no Replacements to compete with anymore, and with the ascendance of Soul Asylum, Nirvana et al., that might not be such a handicap.

It’s certainly not something they’re trying hard to avoid. In fact, “We Are the Normal,” the first single from their upcoming album, is a collaboration with Paul Westerberg.

Aside from a need to stake out their own space more firmly, the Goo Goo Dolls leave little room for complaint. The Whisky show was their usual aggressive, animated display, and they battered mightily at the walls of their narrow range with a friendly irreverence and a garage-rock exuberance.
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