Goo Goo Dolls & Blue October

at Ascend Amphitheater

Nashville, Tennessee

August 30, 2022 by Traci Turner

The band that gave us “Iris” and “Name” has a new album and will be at the Greek this Friday to share it with you. The Goo Goo Dolls summer tour has been crossing the US with Blue October opening, and OC Music News checked it out in Nashville to give you a preview ahead of Friday’s show.
The Goo Goo Dolls gained mainstream fame in the ‘90s with their chart-topping hit, “Name,” off “A Boy Named Goo,” which went double platinum. They could have called it a day after that, but the follow up, “Dizzy Up the Girl,” included a song that would become one of the biggest singles of the decade. “Iris” was a number one hit that camped out on the charts and sold more than seven million copies in the US. The album included two other hits – “Slide” and “Black Balloon” – that helped it become four times platinum.
Formed by John Rzeznik and Robby Takac, Goo Goo Dolls just released their 14th studio album, “Chaos in Bloom,” earlier this month, and it is the first album produced by Rzeznik himself. The summer tour gets Rzeznik and Takac, along with Brad Fernquist, Craig Macintyre, and Jim McGorman back onstage for the first time since 2019.


Nashville, Tennessee

August 27, 2022

Opening for Goo Goo this tour is one of my favorite bands that I feel does not get the credit they deserve – Blue October. The Texas band gained fame with their 2006 song “Hate Me” and has continued to release solid material. When I heard they were supporting Goo Goo Dolls, I thought it was an odd choice since they are – in my opinion – harder rock than the more “radio-friendly” Goo Goo Dolls, but I am thrilled for them to receive the exposure and the bands seem to be having a blast together.
Jeremy Furstenfeld, Ryan Delahoussaye, Matt Noveskey, Will Knaak took the stage and jolted the crowd awake before front-man Justin Furstenfeld sauntered out in all black with a leather jacket and sunglasses looking like the badass he is.
They kicked off with “Coal Makes Diamonds” and “Oh My My” before getting to one of their more recognizable hits, “Say It.” Continuing to be awesome, Furstenfeld whipped out a comb while singing and slicked back his hair, not missing a beat.  
Blue October went through a nice mix of new material and older favorites – like “Into the Ocean” and “Hate Me” – and Furstenfeld repeatedly thanked the audience, including one-on-one “I love you’s” at the front of the stage.
BLUE OCTOBER LIVE | PHOTO by Stephanie Pepper Photography
After “Hate Me,” Furstenfeld said in a deadpan tone, “I have three beautiful children that I know of and I love them very much” before launching into “Home.” Fortunately the people around me caught the joke of “children that I know of” and chucked.
I mentioned I think Blue October does not get the attention they deserve. In addition to the musical abilities of all the guys, Justin Furstenfeld is honestly incredible. Yes, he does the screaming rock vocals and has the swagger, but having seen him perform acoustically, he has an amazing voice that doesn’t need help. I think singing for an audience with just your voice is terrifying and exposes so much vulnerability. His Open Book tours are wonderful and I encourage you to check those out, along with the “Get Back Up” documentary on Amazon Prime which covers Furstenfeld’s mental illness and drug struggles.
BLUE OCTOBER LIVE | PHOTO by Stephanie Pepper Photography
Although he does have that rock star attitude, Furstenfeld often speaks about looking for the positivity in life and before singing “This Is What I Live For,” he told the crowd, “I believe we are put on Earth to be joyous and happy and free. And it should be that simple. This is what I live for and I thank you very much.” They closed with the appropriately titled “I Hope You’re Happy.”
Blue October has a new album headed our way in October and just released the single “Spinning the Truth Around” if you need an early taste.
BLUE OCTOBER LIVE | PHOTO by Stephanie Pepper Photography
After a short break, a disco sounding intro alerted the audience it was time for their headliner. The four-time Grammy-nominated Goo Goo Dolls hit the stage.
John Rzeznik and Robby Takac – both with their majestic hair – got the crowd on their feet immediately. They started with a track off the new album, “Yeah, I Like You,” then went into one of the older faves, “Slide.” The crowd was already happy, but hearing a popular song this quickly in the set helped escalate their mood and there was lots of videoing and singing going on.
Through the first six or so songs, the music did not stop and Rzeznik crossed the stage repeatedly to see fans on both sides while Takac jumped, sang, and looked ecstatic in general. Each song featured different LED visuals and backdrops, including a gorgeous starry sky during “Here Is Gone.”
GOO GOO DOLLS LIVE | PHOTO by Stephanie Pepper Photography
Someone shot some black balloons into the air during, you guessed it, “Black Balloon,” and it wasn’t until after “Over and Over” that Rzeznik finally stopped to take a breath. Takac took over singing duties for “Lucky Star” and “Free of Me” after greeting the crowd with a “Howdy! You got me saying howdy for you!” and laughing at the moment.
The lights went down and the mood mellowed to an acoustic vibe while Rzeznik took back over. “I wrote this song and it is an unapologetic love song, sticky sweet love song, and that’s what makes it good.” He joked about things men do for the women they love, including his own attendance of an Enrique Iglesias show. After saying he does not have Iglesias’ moves, “I have a guitar and I sing, so I hope that’s enough,” he sang “Come to Me.”
Continuing to be alone on stage, Rzeznik asked the crowd, “Are you guys happy? This song make you depressed” and laughed. He continued, “This is a sad song, and sad songs make the best songs. But we can all relate to this song because it’s about being drunk.” With a stunning stained glass LED backdrop, Rzeznik started “Sympathy” alone, but when the music swelled, the band joined him.
GOO GOO DOLLS LIVE | PHOTO by Stephanie Pepper Photography
Rzeznik talked about the next song being the first of theirs on the radio. He said his manager called him, asking if he had unpaid student loans. Rzeznik said he did, and he would not pay them. “Do not fucking pay them! You don’t need a credit card, or apartment. Get paid in cash!” he joked. But based on “Name,” his manager paid off Rzeznik’s student loans and now, all these years later, “I still get to play this song and you come to see us, so thank you.” This of course drew a huge response and lots of phones to record the moment.
Their 23-song set included several other songs from their decades of albums, including “Bringing on the Light,” “Broadway,” and “Better Days,” plus another new song, “Going Crazy.” When they got to “Iris” though, the fans upped their excitement another level and Rzeznik had them take over singing duties for the chorus while phones were being used as lighters.
GOO GOO DOLLS LIVE | PHOTO by Stephanie Pepper Photography
With thunderous applause, the band said goodnight and left the stage, but returned for an encore with “Tattered Edge/You Should Be Happy” and a rockin’ cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”
The guys looked like they truly enjoyed performing together and I would like some of Takac’s joy. Rzeznik is an engaging storyteller and it is a feel-good show, so go see them this Friday at the Greek. They even have a special NFT for you!


by Stephanie Pepper Photography




ocmn 2022


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