Stick around for 20 years in the rock business, and you're left with two choices regarding your ever-present past: make peace with it or commit to attempting to outrun it. Ever since the Goo Goo Dolls trimmed the fat from their energetic pop-punk and struck big with well-crafted, grandiose ballads in the vein of "Iris," critical reaction has been split between those who think the band has made peace with its gritty past and those who feel the group has developed a schizophrenia born of consistent attempts to run from what it once was.
The band members themselves don't see any of this, though -- or if they do, they aren't copping to it. Robby Takac and John Rzeznik find nothing unusual in what has by this time become second nature to them: the ability to balance the plainly pop against the raucous and rowdy. A less strange Husker Du butting heads with a much less cloying Bon Jovi, let's say.
Today, a Goo Goo Dolls show is all about the enduring strength of the songs, and the band's shows are packed with nearly 15 years of instantly identifiable hits. The act of enduring has provided the band with a mighty catalog of memorable melodies. Regardless of critical naysaying, Rzeznik, Takac and Co. deliver these slices of rock candy with conviction, humor, and a journeyman's sure-handedness.
On Saturday evening, Buffalo's Goos come home for a show in the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, with the support of opener Lifehouse. The evening kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced $39.50 to $49.50 reserved, $25 lawn. Find them at Ticketmaster outlets, or through www.livenation.com.
-- Jeff Miers