By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: Blast Friday–Clearwater, Florida–January 25,2019
Rock At Night has been following Fastball for years—not only in their 1990s heyday, but the last couple of years since the band released Step Into Light. I have always appreciated their quality songwriting, with its catchy, pop-rock hooks. Their music takes me back to the 60s, when songs had real choruses, bridges, lead solos, and keyboard riffs. Not unlike Lennon and McCartney, the duo Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo are unsung heroes of the catchy pop tune era.
Fastball was slated to play at Tampa’s Margarita Festival in May, but thanks to the governor declaring state of emergency due to a storm, the Sunday’s concert was canceled.
Fastball just celebrated the 20th anniversary of their platinum album All the Pain Money Can Buy, which produced, the notable singles “The Way” and “Out of My Head”. They are touting specially remastered CD and vinyl packages and toured over North America in 2018. Fastball will be heading to Europe next month for a month-long stint and crossing the channel to London on March 19th to perform at the O2 Islington.
So, it was with great excitement to see Fastball on the schedule, kicking off the City of Clearwater’s Blast Friday. The night of January 25th turned out to be a chilly night for Florida, as temperatures dropped to the 40s.
Fastball, which consists of original members Miles Zuniga, Tony Scalzo and Joey Shuffield, came out on stage with “friends”, who provided extra oomph with guitar and bass. The band kicked off the set with “Fire Escape”, which was a popular radio hit, and “Till I Get It Right” from the album Keep Your Wig On. The set continued with a few favorites from All the Pain Money Can Buy with “Warm Fuzzy Feeling” and “Charlie, the Methadone Man”. Despite cold temps in the 40s that saw many people huddled in heavy jackets and scarves, there were a lot of heads bopping to the beat as many mouthed every lyric to each song.
The band’s performance was faithful to their original recordings, showcasing the distinctive harmonies of Zuniga and Scalzo. Scalzo was on the keys as the band then played the Chicago-like strains of “G.O.D. (Good Old Days)” which took on a more country and jangly feel than the original. Zuniga said, “You might know this from the fantastically acclaimed film Johnny Tsunami” as the band played “It’s an Ocean”.
Zuniga sang “Frenchy and the Punk” from recent album Step Into Light, with its Parisian feel, as Scalzo tickled the ivories. He then announced the band would play a new song “Help Machine”, from a soon-to-be-released album. The song’s lyrics hinted at mortality, No one gets to live forever…I don’t want to spend my life chasing money. Heads continued to bop as the band played “Love Comes in Waves”, with its catchy, infectious chorus and insistent bass line.
By this time in the concert, the band’s energy activated a group of twenty-somethings witnessing the show from outside the seated area. Zuniga seized on the moment and summoned the revellers to bring their enthusiasm to the front of the stage. Undaunted by the chilly weather, a couple of the dancers were actually sporting tank-tops, working up a sweat. This energy rubbed off on the entire crowd, and before long, the entire audience rose to their feet and danced to “Little White Lies” and “Damaged Goods”.
Scalzo then raised a cup to the audience and asked, “You know what this is? Green tea. Party time!” By this time, it was an all-out dance party near the stage. “The Girl You Pretended to Be” had almost a Celtic feel and “I Get High” could have been a Billy Joel or Randy Newman song, with its doo-woppish lilt.
To cap off a chilly evening made warmer by the band’s swagger, Fastball played “Out of My Head” and ended with “The Way.” The dancing crowd began to yell “One more!”, so the band headed back to the stage, ending with “Sooner or Later”.
Fastball played a fantastic and memorable set—they showed what true professionals they are.
- Fire Escape
- ‘Til IGet It Right
- Warm Fuzzy Feeling
- Charlie, the Methadone Man
- G.O.D. (Good Old Days)
- You’re an Ocean
- Frenchy and the Punk
- Help Machine
- Love Comes in Waves
- Little White Lies
- Damaged Goods
- The Girl You Pretended To Be
- I Will Never Let You Down
- All I Was Looking for Was You
- I Get High
- Out of My Head
- Lou-ee, Lou-ee
- All Gone Fuzzy
- Just Another Dream
- The Way
- Sooner or Later