Crowds of eagerly rowdy college students and families filed outside of the Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium as they waited for their chance to burst in and take their places in the rock-and-roll-infused extravaganza.
An enthusiastic roadie was seen playing wall ball in an alleyway against the wall, waiting for the band to go on. I heard a group of college students singing in unison, “Goo Goo Dolls! Goo Goo Dolls!” confirming that they were, in fact, waiting to see the popular band from Buffalo, New York with the same name.
As I pushed my way through the doors and found my designated seat (that I did not sit in, since rock n’ roll requires no lounging around), I overheard several women swooning over lead singer John Rzeznik. One woman who was near the front of the stage even turned towards the hungry audience and excitedly threw her arms in the air several times and hurrah'ed to get the rest of us even more riled up than we already were, all the while managing to form her hands into rockin’ devil horns. The amount of energy and suspense was fantastic; it was possible to even smell the musty fumes of sweat as fans jumped up and down, prepping for what was bound to be a rock show of epic proportions.
The opening act, Kingsfoil, brought the atmosphere’s energy level on overdrive and they even had a free t-shirt giveaway on Twitter. A group of rowdy dudes next to me started swaying and dancing to the music, their baseball caps falling into their eyes from the immense force of their un-choreographed movements. When Kingsfoil left the stage it grew black and a new backdrop emerged from the previous one. The high-pitched screaming indicated that it was time for the Goo Goos to take the stage.
Strobe lights, fog and killer acoustics were all part of the Doll’s impressive set. Rzeznik even called out a couple in the front row. The woman’s boyfriend seemed uninterested in the show and Rzeznik was able to get him initiated into Goo Goo-dom through the use of witty banter and his amazing lead singer sass. The show was fantastic, and the gang played famous songs such as “Slide” and “Better Days” as well as songs featuring vocal performances from bassist Robby Takac. Much to my dismay, I left for the restroom during the middle of their set and as a result, missed the first forty or so seconds of “Iris” (at least I was able to run back to my seat for the majority of the song).
When "Iris" ended, the band thanked Athens and exited stage left, I turned to my friend Morgan and shook my head at her since I had a premonition that the Dolls were not going to be gone for long and would need to return for the audience’s demand of an encore. My precognition was indeed correct, and the Dolls with their perceived trickery, came back onstage and, to the audience’s approval, played about five more power-driven ballads.
The Goo Goo Dolls really made their exit right after their encore and as soon as they exited for good, swarms of fans grabbed their personal belongings dangling from the untouched chairs behind them and scurried out of the auditorium. On my way out I spotted college students and families alike, proudly donning Goo Goo Dolls merch. The appreciation and overall energy of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “friends” (as Rzeznik called his fans) were part of the reason why this show was undoubtedly a major highlight in Athens history.
--Capril Ciulla, Staff Writer