Yesterday’s storms may have short circuited the live music schedule for the second and final night of the Christ the King Oktoberfest. But with a delay of only 40 minutes, clearing skies and temps that shed the previous evening’s sauna like conditions for a touch of autumn cool, Fastball got to work with an hour long set of efficient, good natured power pop.
With its founding ‘90s lineup still intact – guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Tony Scalzo, guitarist/vocalist Miles Zuniga and drummer Joey Shuffield along with an auxiliary bassist – the band didn’t re-write the book on pop innovation or even stretch the limits of their material past efficient, single-length tunes (save for the occasional but brief guitar jam). As a result, the material presented during the hour long performance, as was the case with the previous evening’s headlining Oktoberfest show by fellow ‘90s-bred pop-rockers Gin Blossoms, didn’t vary all that much. Fastball’s favored a little more by way of dynamics – the luxury of having two lead singers, the guitar riffs that percolated during the instrumental “Tanzania” and even the rhumba-esque sway of the band’s signature hit “The Way.” Mostly, though, the repertoire set up chances to play spot-the-influence within its conventional but appealing designs of vintage pop. Cases in point: the Beatle-esque harmonies behind the hit “Fire Escape,” the bright melodic terrain of “Sooner or Later” and the ska-like groove underneath “Loves Comes in Waves.”
Last night was also Zuniga’s 50th birthday. Even though the rains from earlier in the evening whittled the crowd down to roughly a third the size of what turned out for Gin Blossoms, those on hand serenaded the guitarist with the expected “Happy Birthday” and seemed more than up for tagging along with Fastball’s smart and enthusiastically delivered pop parade.