Fastball – Live

Remember the nineties? Of course you do!...
Fastball : Live

Fastball : Live

Remember the nineties? Of course you do! That halcyon time of peak economic performance, undisputed American primacy, and a competent president whose worst crime was lying about a sex act. It was also a great decade for music (unlike all those sucky ones before & since…), finally emerging from the shadow of the artistic sixties and the materialistic nineties. It was when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” topped the charts; it introduced the wider world to hip-hop. One of the groups known from that era, Fastball, came to New York’s Irving Plaza on the ‘Summerland’ tour with fellow nineties-ers acts Everclear, Vertical Horizon, and Ruth Ruth.

FastballEverclear (QRO photos) was headlining the bill, playing their successful So Much For the Afterglow in full for its twentieth anniversary, and before them was Vertical Horizon (QRO photos) because Horizon’s hit “You’re a God” had Beverly Hills 90210’s Tiffani Thiesen in it, while Fastball’s “Fire Escape” only had Entertainment Tonight’s Pat O’Brien (and Ruth Ruth’s “Uninvited” didn’t have any celebrity…). Yet it wasn’t a simple ‘headliners and openers’ evening, as fans of each act had to have at least heard, even know, a few songs from the others. Irving Plaza (QRO venue review) was packed early on, with, yes, older fans, but enthusiastic ones.

The line-up also featured acts that might have been classified as ‘alternative’ in the alt-nineties, but actually hewed more towards the pop/rock of the seventies. Peppy piano-led Fastball numbers like “You’re an Ocean” are more akin to Wings than The Smiths. And Fastball have a new album out, Step Into Light (QRO review), which sticks to that sort of throwback.

Fastball playing “You’re an Ocean” live at Irving Plaza in New York, NY on June 6th:

Step opened Fastball’s set, with its surf instrumental “Tanzania”, an interesting choice that was actually an enjoyable start. But then came “Fire Escape”, and not only your correspondent was singing along (quite possibly members of Fastball saw him singing in the photo pit). There were other Step songs, such as the almost piano-lounge “Frenchy & The Punk” and cheery “Love Comes In Waves”. There was even a brand-new piece, “Andrea”, singer/guitarist Miles Zuniga’s ode to the queen of his high school – who later became “Andy”. Singer/keyboardist Tony Scalzo (QRO interview with Scalzo & Zuniga) joked that they were, “Winning them over with novelty,” but actually the crowd had been singing along (at Zuniga’s invitation) from before the big reveal.

Fastball playing “Sooner Or Later” live at Irving Plaza in New York, NY on June 6th:

And they particularly sang along to the set’s closer, Fastball’s biggest hit, “The Way”. Indeed, Zuniga literally invited the crowd to take over singing, as the audience seemed to know not just the chorus but also all the lyrics. Not the only time that happened that night, it was still damn early for it.

Fastball aren’t ‘stuck in the nineties,’ as they’re releasing new music like Step – and they’re not just the singer/songwriter and some new crew behind him, like, for instance, Everclear. But if you remember anything about that decade, it was a highly enjoyable performance.


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