Review: ‘Fastball’

Musical fastballs were few and far between when young Texas prospects Fastball made a spring training appearance Monday in the friendly confines of the packed Viper Room, where fans came to see if the rootsy, punk-leaning rock band could shake off a disappointing rookie season.

Musical fastballs were few and far between when young Texas prospects Fastball made a spring training appearance Monday in the friendly confines of the packed Viper Room, where fans came to see if the rootsy, punk-leaning rock band could shake off a disappointing rookie season.

Group is hoping to solidify its starting spot on the pitching staff of Hollywood Records, a perennial cellar-dweller among the alt-rock division of the Majors. But this display of sinkers, sliders and curveballs left as many questions as answers regarding the band’s ability to get the job done when the game’s on the line.

Most glaring weakness is teamwork, which was all but absent on the field. The individuals’ seeming inability to execute fundamental plays — like introducing the correct song as the “hit single” or segueing smoothly from one song to the next — means a trip back to the minors could be in the cards.

The creative duo of guitarist-singer Miles Zuniga and bassist-singer Tony Scalzo kept the group in the game with a smart songwriting pop instinct that’s produced a number of effective pitches, featured in their playbook, “All the Pain Money Can Buy.”

But errors hurt the players’ chances throughout the game. Backstop/drummer Joey Shuffield let a number of balls/beats go between his legs, and in the late innings, Zuniga booted the opening guitar lines of the KROQ hit “The Way.” They responded to that gaffe with a strikeout performance of “Sooner or Later,” one of the best pitches in the group’s arsenal, but such all-star moments were few and far between.

Fastball then went to the bull pen looking for a save, with a cover of ZZ Top’s “Thunderbird,” but by then the game was out of reach. Next test for Fastball comes at this weekend’s South by Southwest music conference, where scouts from around the league will come to see if this promising young star has the right stuff.

Fastball

Viper Room; 185 capacity; $10

Production

Presented inhouse. Band: Tony Scalzo, Miles Zuniga, Joey Shuffield, Walt Vincent. Reviewed March 16, 1998.

With

Band: Tony Scalzo, Miles Zuniga, Joey Shuffield, Walt Vincent.
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