The Goo Goo Dolls are very adept at expressing the infantile impulses of corporate rock culture. They can hardly be accused of being advocates of good government, however.
Its corporate overseers keep the band, like any other MTV generation group, on a tight leash. Its longtime manager, Artie Kwitchoff, is now a regional player in the Clear Channel Corporations bid to control bookings at local clubs, such as Nietzsches and the Mohawk Place.
While bassist Robbie Takac ruffled some feathers by holding concert performances at his recording studio during the Allentown Art Festival, thats about as deep into local political issues as the band has been willing to go. In terms of the national scene we havent really heard a peep out of the Goos since they appeared in a 9-11 tribute concert. The grieving process has been cynically manipulated by the Bush administration to great effect. Thank you, Goo Goo Dolls, love Dick Cheney.
Who really cares what a bunch of musicians think about politics, anyway? Of course, the Dixie Chicks had to run a gauntlet of right-wing talking heads asking this very same question after singer Natalie Manes criticized President George W. Bush and his war on Iraq. But we cant expect that kind of feistiness from Johnny Goo with his store-bought muscles. Perhaps a better question to ask is, which musicians would risk their careers by speaking out against the emerging authoritarian hegemony in this country?
Certainly not the Goo Goo Dolls. Not on a national scale and not on a local level, Allentown Association aside. Their July 4 free concert in front of Buffalos City Hall was a good representation of their disengagement from pressing political issues. Instead of addressing the complete takeover of the citys democratically elected government by the Control Board, the band lived up to their doll moniker by jumping around onstage like a couple of windup dolls on speed.
The growing number of free summer concert series may bring residents together in a local public space but they certainly have not had the effect of raising political consciousness. In fact, events such as the Goo Goo Dolls concert/Warner Brothers DVD filming have more in common with the bread and circuses of Rome than with, say, Paul Robesons 1949 concert in Peekskill, N.Y., where concertgoers faced down the Ku Klux Klan.
Jeff Meirs! Where Are You? We Need You Now! The unexpected deluge of hard rain that threatened to spoil the Goos homecoming is now being repackaged as local myth. Building on the mythology of hearty Bills fans supporting their club in all sorts of weather, the ill-advised decision to go on with the show is being hailed as a watershed concert experience.
Enter Buffalo News rock critic Jeff Meirs. Jeff, a local musician of some note himself, penned a couple of articles documenting the heroism of the day in a bas-relief of our boys in the band. He didnt really mention that fellow Buffalonian musician Ani DiFranco, her band, and their fans braved the same conditions. This was the Goos hour to shine. We wouldnt want to put the spotlight on yet another female who is highly outspoken in her criticism of the Bush administration and is a rebel against the Hit Men of the music industry.
For some people, the spectacle of Mother Nature in Buffalo blowing apart the carefully staged event wasnt a tribute to our heartiness, as folks such as Jeff would have fans believe. For these people it was karma. Karma for the suburban white noise that comes into the city for sinnin and then leaves. Karma for the political caste system that had hoped to create a postcard image of major city at play, when, in reality, it should have pushed Tony Masiello out there to give a violin performance as our democratic form of government goes down in flames. And, of course, karma for the quasi-governmental Buffalo Place, which saw its vendors take a bath (or a shower, in this case) while the GOP-friendly Park Lane siphoned most their customers off into the golden ballroom of the Statler Towers.
In all likelihood, the Goo Goo Dolls will end up packaging a product that relies on the Jeff Meirs myth, with plenty of Murphys Law moments thrown in for good measure. Speaking from experience, losers can relate to the idea that anything that can go wrong will. They can idolize those who find a silver (or better yet, golden) lining in a monsoon. They can trade stories about their brush with greatness as their city is engulfed in red ink.
Why give a voice to our desire to fight back, when you can fill their heads with dreams of stardom? Repeat after me: goo goo, gaa, gaa, NOT gabba, gabba, hey! By John McMahon
Losers need heroes. They need someone to live through vicariously, okay? They need to construct myths and fictive worlds to be able to deal with defeat. Face it, Buffalo, youre all a bunch of losers.
Which is why the return of the Goo Goo Dolls to their hometown for an ill-fated concert/DVD taping at McKinley Square on July 4 was pitch perfect.