If you know me, you know that I’m a 90s baby and will never say no to a 90s show even if that means driving over an hour of town to see it. That being said, Monday night was spent with two friends in my little tic-tac of a car driving up to the gorgeous Ledge Amphitheater in Waite Park, MN for a nostalgia-fueled night of 90s jams and it ended up being one of the best nights in a long time.
Unfortunately, as typically happens, life got in the way and my friends and I arrived to the amphitheater a little bit later than expected but having Blue October serenade us as we walked up to the gates just added to the experience. Blue October is not my typical listen but there’s something about vocalist Justin Furstenfeld’s voice that I just can not get enough of. It’s this commercial hard rock vibe but the tone he has in it is distinct and I find this odd sense of comfort in it. Formed in 1995 and with eight albums and plenty of singles that hit the charts, Blue October has a cult-like following that I wasn’t quite ready for. As we made our way inside to grab a quick drink before finding out seats, I was shocked to see the huge audience with their eyes glued to the stage while singing along to every word. Although I could only sing along to their hits “Hate Me” and “Into the Ocean”, I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling floating throughout the air as they played through unfamiliar songs that, although I probably won’t be listening to them on the daily, seemed to fit the perfect weather in a gorgeous way.
When you think back to the 90s, what do you think of? I think of laying by the pool as my mom doused me in sunscreen as if that was going to help save my ginger skin during a full day of sunlight all the while having the speakers at the pool blaring 90s radio hits. It’s such a small snippet of my life but, for some reason, it has really stuck with me and I crave reminders of that simpler time when the biggest stress of my day was if I was going to get a fun dip or gummy bears at the small concession stand at the local pool. Maybe that’s the reason for my obsession when it comes to 90s music or maybe it’s just because I truly think that music was some of the best. Regardless, I was stoked as the stage was turned over for the headliner on Monday night, and definitely forgot for a second that I was supposed to be taking photos as The Goo Goo Dolls took the stage and jumped into their set out of pure excitement.
The Goo Goo Dolls have been around since 1986 but it was their breakthrough single “Name” that hit the radiowaves in 1995 that really put them on the map. After that, the band continued to produce hit after hit including “Iris”, “Slide”, and “Black Balloon”– hell, the list goes on and on and I got to hear all of those hits and more during their set on Monday night. It was a twenty-two-song set ending with a flawless cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and although they obviously couldn’t play everything they have ever written (which is what I would have liked from their set), they did a great job of picking songs that were both obvious and caught me a little bit off guard. I’m a huge fan and I know I just talked about wanting them to play every song they have ever written but there were some songs in their set that I had never heard or maybe hadn’t heard in years. That being said, that changed nothing about the effect the music was having on my body and soul.
I was not the only one affected by the music. Whether you were screaming your lungs out to every word, having another drink that maybe you didn’t need, or just holding your person tight by your side, I loved seeing The Goo Goo Dolls’ music moving so many people in so many years. A lot has changed since the 90s but bands like The Goo Goo Dolls have stayed true to themselves, their sound, and their fans and that is what will keep them relevant when really the heyday of their music has been over for years (sorry not sorry).
Clearly, I was at the show just to hear the music and relive my youth a little bit and that’s obviously most of what I’ve written about here but, before I let you go and I move on with my day, I just have to mention the personality that shined from the stage. I’ve only seen The Goo Goo Dolls a couple of times and it has been years so either it wasn’t the same back then or I just don’t remember it but I loved getting little peeks into the band member’s personalities. From bassist Robby Takac’s bolt across the stage to vocalist John Rzeznik’s comments about sportsball not mattering (AMEN!), I just loved how although this band is huge and known around the world, they took time in their packed set to let us all in a little bit. They even gave a nod to the local scene by explaining how Minnesota is truly a home for amazing music from Semisonic to Husker Du to Soul Asylum and everything in between. For some reason, hearing that from a monumental band like Goo Goo Dolls gave me chills and that, albeit a small moment in a fabulous night, was definitely a highlight for me.