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Matchbox Twenty, the Goo Goo Dolls conjure up ’90s nostalgia

Matchbox Twenty performs July 3.  |  Heather Leszczewicz~Sun-Times Media

Matchbox Twenty performs July 3. | Heather Leszczewicz~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 4, 2013 1:55AM

If security would have allowed it, there would have been dancing in the pavilion aisles at Ravinia Festival July 3. But there was plenty of singing and shimmying, both on stage and off, during the second of three Chicago concerts for Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Playing a mixture of their greatest hits and new songs, the two bands rocked the Ravinia stage while lead singers John Rzeznik and Rob Thomas charmed the audience with playful banter.

“There are no shy people in Chicago,” Rzeznik said, before the Goo Goo Dolls launched into “Slide” off the 1998 album Dizzy Up the Girl.

Black balloons were batted back and forth during “Black Balloon,” Rzeznik talked about how he quit the bartending job he loved after hearing the Muzak version of 1995’s “Name” in a grocery store and the multimedia screens around the stage added a bit of flash.

Before playing the band’s latest single, the rollicking and catchy “Rebel Beat” off of Magnetic, Rzeznik said the band was playing a new song that the audience might not know. His advice? Everyone should pretend that they did know it and dance along with a little arm-waving pizzazz; and some audience members were happy to oblige.

The Goo Goo Dolls’ hour-long set revisited most of their popular songs which had the audience up on their feet, while lesser-known songs brought the mood down slightly and caused a few people to use their smartphone’s Shazam app to try and figure out song names. The band’s biggest hit, “Iris,” was the showstopper.

Matchbox Twenty took to the stage at 9 p.m. and promised an hour and a half-long set that would entertain. The band did not disappoint, neither did the night sky as Thomas let everyone know.

“The weather gods have smiled upon us for a little while,” Thomas told the crowd, after the lawn had turned into a sea of umbrellas earlier in the night thanks to rain.

He also mentioned how there were “Zombies outside waiting to tear us apart...” at one point, drawing plenty of giggles from the audience.

Matchbox Twenty presented an uplifting set that featured current single “She’s So Mean” as well as a couple of the band’s first singles, like “3 a.m.” and “Real World,” from 1996. The audience spent most of the night on their feet grooving to all the tunes. The set was also Matchbox Twenty songs only, not a single Rob Thomas solo endeavor was played.

“So Sad, So Lonely” turned into an amazing instrumental at one point, allowing guitarists Paul Doucette and Kyle Cook to shine with captivating solos. “Radio” and “English Town” off of the band’s latest album North were also stand outs.

And the band went out on a high note, sending the audience home with “Push.”

The night’s opening act Kate Earl has promise, but her bluesy/rock vibe didn’t seem to mesh with either band. Stand out songs included “One Woman Army,” “California” and the currently unreleased “Honey,” minus a bum note here and there. Like many beginning artists in other fields, Earl has taken to the Internet with to ask fans for help funding her summer musical journey. She does have an interesting background story that starts in her home state of Alaska.

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