Fastball & The Rembrandts Outstanding at B.B. Kings Bar & Grill, NYC 7-9-15

Music diversified during the nineties with the Alternative Rock genre beaming at its core. A multitude of distinctive bands emerged, bleeding out tunes with fresh expressionism that many have lingered on to remain current still to this day. Among those to emerge from the scene was Austin Texans Fastball and Pop-Rock duo The Rembrandts. Both bands still very active in recent years, Fastball did extensive touring in 2013 a part of the Under the Sun Tour, and The Rembrandts have a handful of dates on tap for 2015. On a muggy Thursday July 9th in New York City, fans managed to hide from the flock of tourists and unbearable heat to cool off at B.B Kings Bar & Grill, embracing an evening of Rock-n-Roll with the two bands who came together for a special evening. Exciting many with the Midsummer show, this Alternative nineties combination was the perfect dosage for fans to let themselves go and rock the night away.

Early in the evening, most of the crowd were sitting at tables having an enjoyable dinner before the first act. The stage floor was nearly empty, however, two fans, one from Dover Plains, NY were gracefully standing up front and center of the stage, this fan was excited to see an act she has waited twenty-five years to finally experience live for the first time, The Rembrandts. The Los Angeles, California duo, Danny Wilde and Phil Solem, joined forces in 1989 and have received praise and success since their debut self -titled album in 1990.

Casually walking onto the platform and surprising the crowd that were still eating dinner, they opened the night with the classic “Rollin’ Down the Hill” from their second studio album Untitled (1992). At this point, fans slowly paid their bill and headed toward the stage for a closer view. Moving into  “Burning Timber,” from their debut self-titled studio album, the track received praise from the veteran fans on the floor. Wilde and Solem connected with the crowd on this low-key evening and went into the danceable “Chase” from Untitled. Wilde announced that his nephew was in the house that evening, as a small group of dedicated fans cheered. This exclusive evening carried on with the stirring “If Not For Misery” and the poignant “Johnny Have You Seen Her,” as the audience swayed. Wilde reflected about the beginning of the Rembrandts when they were recording a song from the first album, how precious it was to them, not knowing at the time where it would lead them in their career, as they went into “Follow” from their debut self-titled album. The charismatic Solem shined during his sublime solo as it passionately rung throughout the room.

As their set flew by, full of warmth and appreciation, they were ready to dabble into their favorable track, “Just The Way It Is Baby” from their debut album and the crowd clapped with animated amusement. After performing a handful of classic tunes, they took a moment and Wilde announced that they have been working on a new album, that should be released next Spring. After waiting eight years to record, Wilde introduced the new track, “How Far Would You Go.” The crowd gathered around and took in this new emotional and romantic track while a fan cried out, “Awesome.” Solem presented the next song saying, “It’s a classic,” as they dove into “One Horse Town.” Moving on with Wilde’s explanation on the next piece, emphasizing how it was written about Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion, they slipped into “This House is Not a Home” from 1995’s LP. Closing their set with the notorious “I’ll Be There For You,” from hit TV series Friends theme song, fulfilled the audience with merriment. Wilde and Solem nailed it that evening and hopefully they will be back after the release of their sixth studio album slated for release in the near future.’

After a quick break, just enough time to grab a cocktail from the bar, Fastball was ready to embark. Formed in 1994 with the solid trio still in tact, consisting of Tony Scalzo  (vocals/guitar/keyboard), Miles Zuniga (vocals/guitar), and Joey Shuffield (drums). This evening in New York City had their touring member since 2011, Lonnie Trevino Jr. on bass, rounding out the band. Going over twenty years strong, they have hit several landmarks and achievements, including their platinum record status from their second studio album in 1998, All The Pain Money Can Buy. Consistent with their style and performance ever since, it was time for them to return to a Manhattan stage for the first time since August 0f 2009.

Opening their set with the crowd pleasing “Sooner or Later,” the band sparked a strong and engaging note that had everyone’s attention. As they moved into “Rampart Street,” from 2009’s Little White Lies, a child screamed out “hey” in the audience as Zuniga joked, saying he was their manager. Moving along, in full action, they kept up the pace with “Lou-ee, Lou-ee” from 2004’s Keep Your Wig On. Zuniga announced that they have been working on a new album and revealed the unreleased track of “Just Another Dream,” and the audience rocked with enjoyment to this fresh tune. Scalzo strolled to the other side of the stage, taking his seat at the keyboard as they went into “You’re an Ocean” from 2000’s The Harsh Light of Day. Zuniga admitted to all how happy they were to be back in New York as they continued their set with “Which Way to the Top” from their acclaimed All The Pain Money Can Buy. Rolling along with energy, they flowed right into “Shortwave” and “I Get High” from their fourth studio album released back in 2004 entitled Keep Your Wig On.

At this point, it was clear that they have captivated the crowd with satisfying delight by playing material from all parts of their career. Moving into their latest single from 2013, the melodious “Love Comes In Waves,” hooked the fans once again into a groove. Remaining unstoppable rockers, they continued with the classic “Fire Escape,” the heart-warming “All I Was Looking For Was You,” and crowd pleaser “All I Was Looking For.” Going against their planned set-list, a fan mentioned how they were there for a friend’s birthday, as they asked the band to play their original classic, “Are You Ready For the Fallout” for them. Shortly after, the song emerged as the audience’s faces were flushed with blissful enchantment.

Fastball went into the studio back in February to record their new album, and on this exquisite evening, they gave the audience a World Premiere of their first instrumental track of their career, “Tanzania,” instantly followed by their latest, “Hung Up,” where Trevino showcased his immaculate bass lines. Carrying on the evening with the heavy introductory track of “Til I Get It Right” from Keep Your Wig On, instantly followed by the quintessential “Out of My Head” from All The Pain Money Can Buy. Shortly after, Scalzo naturally goofed on the keys during a quick parody of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” singing lyrics, “Mama can you lend me some money?” Having everyone wanting more, they quickly transitioned into mega hit “The Way”  and “Always Never” where Zuniga put down his guitar in order to boogie around the stage during Scalzo’s keyboard solo.

Fans cheered as the band left the stage, however, they held their spots while sipping on the last bit they had in their drink. The group shortly returned for the immaculate encore. A familiar sound erupted as they played a snippet from the Beatles “Let it Be.” Without finishing the track, Zuniga poked fun at the crowd in a lighthearted way stating, “Wow, you guys would sing along to anything?” The crowd laughed, however, Zuniga continued on a serious note, seeing if they could actually sing along to another new track that has not yet been released.

As the new tune closed out the evening everyone in attendance were were left with utter satisfaction. Exciting their core of followers with new material on the horizon perhaps Fastball will visit the city that never sleeps after the release of the album. In the meantime, check them out on their remaining few tour dates before the end of July.

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