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Sitting on the bleachers on a brisk Sunday evening, hundreds of fans waited for the Goo Goo Dolls to take the stage at this year’s Bands, Brew & BBQ event in Busch Gardens, Tampa. As anxious as everyone was to attend an amazing rock concert, no amount of beer (over 300 selections) were enough to keep anyone warm, as this was one of the lowest temperatures Tampa had experienced in weeks.

After waiting for two hours (VIP was granted early entrance), several beers later, and an obligatory Goo Goo Dolls sweatshirt purchase to keep most people warm, the band took the stage promptly at 5PM with “Sweetest Lie.” The audience immediately forgot about the cold and got on their feet as they sang along and cheered, singing along to every tune. Next up was “Slide,” a song that has become a quintessential part of their musical career, and also song that needs no introduction, as the band simply let the crowd take over and sing in unison.

John Rzeznik joked with the crowd, as everyone was bundled up in sweaters, scarfs and furry animal hats purchased at the park. Being from Buffalo, NY, he mentioned that it wasn’t cold and laughed as Floridians shattered their teeth in the bitter weather. “Im glad to see that all of our friends from the Animal Kingdom are here taking pictures of humans,” he said as he looked at three girls standing on the third row. “We have miss tiger, wise miss owl and that smart-ass giraffe that has been hanging out.”

After performing songs like “Stay With You” and “Home,” “Black Balloon” was next, a song the band always does an impeccable job live, making it sound even better than the studio recording. Nonetheless, if there is one song that always stands out is the Irish-influenced tune “Can’t Let It Go.” I remember hearing that song the very first time at a private show in Los Angeles right before “Let Love In” was released and immediately fell in love. I have been lucky enough to hear Rzeznik’s acoustic rendition and it’s even more beautiful performed that way.

Over the past 25 years, the Goo Goo Dolls have blended grunge and power pop in a way that broke through to the mainstream, and continues to build much earned success and admiration of hundreds of fans. From what started as a punk band at a basement in downtown Buffalo, escalated to a one-hit-wonder with “Name”, and later went on an epic launch to success with “Iris,” this band is now writing hit after hit flawlessly.

The Goo Goo Dolls performed the new single “Rebel Beat” from their 10th upcoming album Magnetic, Though you could tell only the loyal fans had heard it (and already knew all the words), the band is still working on kinks and polishing the perfect way to perform it live. “You guys will love this song once we learn how to play it” Rzeznik said after his performance.

Bassist Robby Takac pleased fans with his contageous energy as he performed “Smash,” “Tucked Away” and the oldie-but-goodie track fitting “January Friend.”

Sadly, time flies when you are having fun, and the show was over with the blink of an eye. With their positivity, energy and offering great entertainment, the band’s two-hour set seemed to fly by as people were so consumed in their music to even notice time was up.

The band’s 10th studio album, Magnetic, will be released on May 7th on Warner Bros. records.

Set List

Sweetest Lie
Stay With You
Here Is Gone
Big Machine
January Friend
Black Balloon
Rebel Beat
Now I Hear
Tucked Away
Can’t Let It Go
Let Love In
Better Days

American Girl
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