2/8/15 – House of Blues

Yes, you read that correctly. At first glance, the rock-reggae fusion of the Goo Goo Dolls and Shaggy might seem at odds, but the two classic artists made up for the genre clash with their stage presence and passion for philanthropy.

“We’re honored to come to Boston to rock out for a great cause,” said John Rzeznik, vocalist and guitarist of the Goo Goo Dolls. Both Shaggy and Goo Goo Dolls have performed at multiple charity shows in the past few years.

Last Sunday night, House of Blues Boston transformed into a glowing 90’s wonderland in support of the annual Big Night fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. While guests enjoyed an array of fine hors d’oeuvres, they mingled and swung their hips to Shaggy’s summery tunes.

However, it was clear from the dining and chatting that this was a fundraising event. Although at times he seemed frustrated by the broad spread of the crowd, Shaggy—a true showman—ignored it and continued to seduce the stage and audience alike. Prowling back and forth, he gave Boston some “true Jamaican heat to cure the ugly weather” accompanied by plenty of hip thrusting, sassy innuendos, and deep, crooning vocals. Much to the crowd’s delight, he performed his classic hits “Angel,” “Bombastic,” and of course, “Wasn’t Me.” His whole crew pranced around the stage with him as the diners moved forward, easing into free, lighthearted dancing. The set finished off with an energetic debut of several of his new songs.

After a fast-paced auction benefiting BBBS—which raised the total this year to $1.8 million—the scene on stage faded from warm oranges to a cool blue as a rippling drum beat danced in the air. The space previously reserved for dancing vanished as people pressed forward in anticipation for the Goo Goo Dolls.

Without any further fanfare, the band strolled onstage and launched into their first few songs. They were veterans; every song and chord easily flowed with a relaxed joy. Classic jam song “Slide” had the crowd singing out to the ceiling, but as these were gala attendees, not diehard fans, most of the other songs were unfamiliar; there was little of the head banging you’d find a normal Goo Goo Dolls concert. Bassist Robby Takac swung around in an alt-rock waltz during every song, and both he and John kept up a witty banter with the crowd between sets. The set was extensive considering the sometimes-inattentive audience (some simply texting and weaving through the crowd). Still, during fan-favorites “Better Days” and “Iris,” John’s rough, intense vocals pooled out across the venue as he crooned out two of the most heart-wrenching songs his band has ever produced.

An encore call brought them back for one more song, by the end leaving behind a weary but warm-hearted crowd that was reluctant to depart from their 90’s paradise.

Good Vibrations: Goo Goo Dolls & Shaggy
  • Great music, great cause
  • Engaging stage presence
  • GGD's set was too lengthy
  • Crowd was there for social reasons, not music
7.5Overall Score

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