January 26, 2019

Newberry, SC

Newberry Opera House

Reviewed by Joseph Hett

Fastball Plays A Perfect Game In Newberry

Corny, but it is a contractual obligation to make baseball related puns when speaking about the band Fastball…

Fastball made a stop at the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, SC on a chilly Saturday night. All three original members (Tony Scalzo, Miles Zuniga, and Joey Shuffield) along with two touring members (guitarist Kevin McKinney and bassist Bobby Daniel) put on one heck of a show.

Fastball and their diverse sound of alt-rock/punk/pop-rock ran through their catalog for around a 20-song set that lasted one and a half hours. Scalzo and Zuniga would take turns on lead vocals.

Fastball came right out of the bullpen with one of their classics called “Fire Escape” off of “All The Pain Money Can Buy” — 1998’s platinum selling album. They would continue to crank out many more from their seminal album.

For the majority of the show, Scalzo played rhythm guitar. That was interesting since he was the bass player during the early years of the band. That made for a three guitar attack. But for the upbeat “You’re An Ocean,” Scalzo went behind the keyboards. He also stayed back there for “Frenchy And The Punk.” They appeared to be having fun while McKinney got to shine during an amazing guitar solo.

Zuniga told everybody that it was time for some disco. Daniel laid down a dirty bass groove as the triple guitars played funky riffs as the crowd clapped to “Little White Lies.”

Scalzo went back to the keyboards to sing another one of their radio hits, “Out Of My Head.”

Somebody from the intimate audience yelled a request for “Just Another Dream.” Zuniga heard it and then there was some playful banter amongst the band about being stumped by their own song. Shuffield, who had been solid on drums all night long, started the song up and they rocked it.

For the last song of the main set, they performed their megahit “The Way.”

After a little break, Shuffield came back out and asked everyone if they wanted to hear a drum solo. After mass approval, he started pounding the skins. The rest of the band came out for “Sooner Or Later.” They jammed and even sounded like they threw in a part that sounded like “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” from the Stones. They finished up and then headed downstairs to meet and greet with everyone.

The venue was probably less than half full, but Fastball played like it was a sold-out arena. The usual patrons of the Newberry Opera House probably didn’t attend because they thought Fastball was just another cookie-cutter late ‘90s band. They missed out on an amazing performance – their musicianship was phenomenal.

The Newberry Opera House continues to try to shed their reputation for catering to the blue-haired crowd. The success of diverse booking might take some time, but it will pay off in the long run…to home plate.