February 6, 2007

Sight Unsound: Doll faces, Split lips and those lovable bastards

Heartless Bastards“When I was a kid, I would play cigar boxes, ukuleles, kazoos, mops … anything to get people’s attention. So, I guess I was cut out to be in a band,” explains Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac. “Still, most folks have this misconception that the musician’s life is one big party. Don’t get me wrong: I love every minute of my job, but it’s been a lot more work than you might imagine.”Takac initially teamed up with singer/guitarist Johnny Rzeznik in 1986. Though each of them had different musical sensibilities, they set out to smash their respective stylistic worlds together to create a unique sound for their new pop-inflected band.“When the group first got together, we employed the energy of the Clash and the Replacements and attempted to also develop a real melodic sense … without turning into Journey … and at the same time, we wanted to incorporate a sort of heavy metal edge,” Takac recalled.Loaded with talent, self-determination and street smarts, the Goo Goo Dolls somehow languished in obscurity for a number of years until 1995, when they broke through in a major way with the release of A Boy Named Goo. That album contained their first of many top 10 hits, “Name.” Since then the band has enjoyed massive album sales and staggering chart success. Despite all of their mainstream prominence and rock-star grandeur, though, humility never fell away from the Dolls. In their minds, they remain the same boys from Buffalo who never want to stop playing in their noisy garage. “It’s an exciting thing to be even marginally relevant after 20 years in the business,” Takac said. “We’ve always tried to move forward with each record, but basically we are just a guitar band. Certainly the popularity of that comes and goes, but we aren’t gonna change what we do just because R&B or funk-metal or some other thing might be in fashion.”These days Takac, Rzeznik and drummer Mike Malinin are working as hard as ever both in the studio and on the road.The Goo Goo Dolls roll into the Palace Theatre (625 S. Fourth St., 583-4555) this Friday in support of Let Love In, their eighth proper release. If you go, expect to hear an assortment of tunes spanning their career, including their 12 top-10 hits. The show starts at 8 p.m., and The Elms open.•••Split Lip RayfieldErika Wennerstrom wanted to be a songwriter and performer from an early age.“Since I was born, actually,” she said.As the driving force behind the increasingly popular Cincinnati band Heartless Bastards, Wennerstrom is seeing her childhood (or perhaps embryonic) dreams to fruition.Currently touring behind their second acclaimed album, All This Time, the Bastards play Saturday at Phoenix Hill Tavern (644 Baxter Ave., 589-4630). They have been compared with Big Brother & The Holding Company and the Velvet Underground but are decidedly original nonetheless. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Beaten Awake opens.•••After more than a decade together, Taildragger has earned a reputation as one of the best blues-rock bands in Kentucky.The band takes the stage Thursday at Jim Porter’s (2345 Lexington Road, 452-9531) to warm up the crowd for another great outfit, the enigmatic Split-lip Rayfield. If you had to tag SLR with a genre, they are most often described as a rock ’n’ roll-fueled bluegrass band, whose current home is the insurgent Bloodshot Records.As it happens, both bands are high-energy and best experienced live. The room at JP’s fills up fast, so get there early. This 21-and-over show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.•••A wide range of artists has interpreted the soulful songs of Louisville’s Tim Krekel. Some of these recordings have even made it to the top of the hit parade.Most recently, “Anywhere On Earth You Are” was used as the leadoff track on Alan Jackson’s latest, and Sam Bush’s cover of “All Night Radio” is the standout cut on the new Sugar Hill Records box set. Krekel has been known to dabble in a variety of genres. Over the years, he has performed and recorded beach, blues, country and 1960s-style rock ’n’ roll numbers. So count on an eclectic mix when Krekel sets up shop Thursday at Krazy Dave’s (2816 Del Rio Place, 458-2824). The free show begins at 7 p.m.•••Normally we don’t endorse “Alcohol and Violence,” but in the context of punk rock, it makes sense. Stoner Moms, the four-piece pride of Clown Vomit Records, hold court Thursday night at Third Street Dive (440 S. Third St., 587-0706) with Cold Hands and The Fakes. The madness begins at 10 p.m. For more info, visit www.myspace.com/thirdstreetdive.•••See what all the buzz is about when local fast-talking heavies (intheclear) host a night of electric mayhem along with friends Subrosa, Kinsey and Nashville’s Return To Self. ITC’s debut album ninetyseven11lyriclane just hit the racks and is sure to put them on the map in a big way. Friday’s all-ages show is at Headliners Music Hall (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088). Advance tickets are $8. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.•••Another way to spend Saturday night is in the presence of explosive pop-rocker Will Hoge. After recently sharing the bill with the likes of Black Crowes, North Mississippi Allstars and Drive-By Truckers, Hoge is headlining dates and still pushing his raucous release, The Man Who Killed Love. He plays Headliners with Marah and the Drams. Matt Mays & El Torpedo open. The 18-and-over show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.com