JENNINGS: The rain comes down on Goo Goo Dolls in 2004

Thom Jennings/contributorThere was no threat of rain for Goo Goo Dolls Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac during a 2014 performance at the Bear's Den at Seneca Niagara Casino.

The year was 2004, and a rain drenched John Rzeznik, Robby Takac and the rest of the Goo Goo Dolls had just finished an epic performance of “Iris,” in front of a hometown crowd.

“This is the best Fourth of July ever … ever, ever, ever!,” Rzeznik exclaimed.

It was an eventful evening, and while crowd estimates of 60,000 are hard to verify, there is no doubt the Goo’s July 4, 2004 performance was one of the most memorable for everyone that was in attendance.

“It was insane, but it’s even more amazing because we had a video crew there to document it,” Takac noted during a phone interview last week.

In an era before cell phone cameras, it was unusual to have entire shows documented. But even if fans had cell phones, many of them would have been rendered useless by the day's pounding rain.

The Goo Goo Dolls were slated as the final act of a full weekend of music in Buffalo’s Niagara Square. The stage was set up in front of Buffalo’s City Hall.

“The weekend event was called Uncle Sam’s Jam, and Ben Folds and Ani Difranco had already played, and the weather was gorgeous, so the place was packed. The whole thing was quite an undertaking because they shut down all of these streets in Buffalo, and the city was not as festival orientated as they are now.”

“We had to remove streetlights, park benches and railings. It was quite an undertaking, and about halfway through the show there was this hellacious rain, no lightening though, because if there was lightening, we would have had to call the show.”

The show is immortalized as a live album and official video aptly titled “The Goo Goo Dolls Live in Buffalo, July 4, 2004.”

“We hired a video crew; it was Jon Bon Jovi’s brother Tony who directed it. We brought him in and it was the dawn of digital technology, and they brought in all these high-definition cameras and when the rain came they started failing. I think we started with 19 cameras and by the time it was done there were like five of them working.”

Malfunctioning cameras were only part of the complication brought on by the torrential downpour.

“There had been a show the day before so there was still a lot of trash in the area and it clogged up the sewers, and there were fans standing in ankle deep water.”

At one point it looked as if the band was not going to be able to finish their performance.

‘They had pulled us off the stage, and we stood on the side for about 10 minutes and we knew we needed to do something, so we went back out there.”

“It would have been just another live video if it weren’t for the rain. If it hadn’t happened the way it did we wouldn’t be talking about it now. People still talk to me about that show.”

  

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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