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Becoming a Goo Goo Dolls believer at Darien Lake

DARIEN CENTER — I’m wearing a Bills helmet as I tell you this. As far as bands go, The Goo Goo Dolls never did it for me.

Go ahead, drown me in loganberry. I’ll wait for my penance.

Let me specify that it’s their music that makes me feel this way. They sound average and generic in my ears. Not bad, though not particularly impressionable. I’m guessing that I’m not the only Buffalonian to feel this way on the inside.

Now, as civic players on Buffalo’s cultural stage, they are my heroes. Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik and bassist Robby “Goo” Takac, both group founders, have made significant philanthropic impact over the years for local art and education causes, homeless services and autism research. They are good guys, through and through, and we are all better because of their success. For that, I love them and all that they are.

But for the rock-and-roller in me, somewhere in there, it always comes down to the music. Right, shouldn’t it?

The Goos played a triumphant homecoming show at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Saturday night. During the show, I heard their music for the first time all over again.

“We keep meeting in this place,” said Rzeznik, recognizing the fact that this Buffalo band was playing outside of Buffalo. He shrugged it off, seeming to imply: “At least we’re together.”

Darien Lake may not be local enough for a true homecoming, but the fans came out and brought their Buffalove.

Kicking things off was Phillip Philips, with a multifaceted rock set that came stuffed with Southern soul, country, bluegrass and rock. His big hit “Home” made a big splash with its clap-happy participation, while his closer “My Name” brought to mind 1990s Soundgarden.

Things really began when the Goos took to their modestly appointed stage, framed by a few lighting towers — a blue-collar gig if ever this venue saw one.

Takac is a wild man on stage, bouncing around with messy, happy energy and bare feet. Does he consume bowls…

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