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Hooky, dark, no-nonsense. That, in a few words, is Austin million-seller Fastball. Formed in Austin in 1994, singer/guitarists Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga, along with drummer Joey Shuffield, began at the Electric Lounge, Hole in the Wall, and Emo's as Magneto USA, releasing a well-recieved 45. After creating a suitable local buzz, the band signed to Hollywood Records the following year. The group’s debut, Make Your Mama Proud, dropped in 1996 without making much of a splash. The trio’s second album, All the Pain Money Can Buy (1998), then hit the sweet spot, going platinum inside of six months thanks to darkly catchy “The Way,” Scalzo’s tale of two old folks who drive off into the sunset in their RV, which earned a spot on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the ‘90s.” Pain earned two Grammy nominations: Best Rock Performance and Best Long Form Video for “They Wanted the Highway.” The Harsh Light of Day failed to generate an equally notable hit in 2000; a best-of collection, Painting the Corners, followed in 2002. After 2003's limited-run Live From Jupiter Records, Fastball released Keep Your Wig On on Rykodisc. A fifth studio album is currently in the works. – Melanie Haupt

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06/18/16 @ The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.
I Still Miss Liberty Lunch

Razed for tech offices in 1999, Liberty Lunch lives on as a rallying cry for lost Austin. Saturday’s HAAM benefit condenses the club’s halcyon to one sweaty local shamble. The Wild Seeds resurrect heady rent-house rock alongside platinum sellers Fastball, with assistance from True Believer Javier Escovedo. The Reivers incant the 1985 Austin episode of MTV’s The Cutting Edge, while Joe “King” Carrasco brings jalapeños and Big Red. Reunited Eighties reggae seed-sowers Pressure and funk fusion favorites Extreme Heat open. 7pm.

04/25/14 @ Strange Brew Lounge Side
Fastball, Dexter Freebish

ATX pop home run, 7pm.

05/25/13 @ The Belmont
Gourds, Fastball, Reivers

Homegrown triplet: South Texas roots, millions sellers, and reformed alt-romance.

09/08/12 @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater
See that tattoo of the horse encircled by flames on the Grulkefest poster? I watched as my late ex-husband Rollo Banks applied it to the late Brent Grulke’s upper arm at the old China Sea Tattoo Company on Guadalupe sometime around 1985. I can still remember the tobacco-stanky walls, lined in brilliantly colored flash, and Brent wincing without complaint as Rollo sank the ink in his flesh.

Neither of those gentlemen are with us now, but come Saturday at the Moody Theater, they’ll be watching what we’re doing down here. That’s celebrating the life of Brent Grulke – father, husband, friend, family – with a perfect group of usual suspects: True Believers, Sixteen Deluxe, Fastball, Doctors’ Mob, Glass Eye, the Reivers, the Wannabes, Wild Seeds, and whoever else will be moved to get onstage and deal with the crushing pain of losing, not just a friend, but a beloved and integral part of the local music community.

Those are the right bands for the occasion, too, a loose gathering of post-punk and so-called “New Sincerity” survivors with a touch of early Nineties zeitgeist. At one end of the through line, Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham anchor the True Believers with marching, charging guitars, while at the other Carrie Clark and Frenchie Smith summon Trance Syndicate Records’ neutron fuzz bomb. At all points in between regroup Cinderella stories (Fastball), Daniel Johnston-inspiring art rock (Glass Eye), cult indie legends (the Reivers, neé Zeitgeist), eternal ATX bar rock (the Wannabes, Doctors' Mob), and the anthemic cutting edge of Brent’s collaborative past (Wild Seeds).

While we at the Chronicle remember Brent Grulke as Music editor, it was his position as creative director of South by Southwest that honed his sharp vision and exquisitely good taste into never-to-be-forgotten showcases. And if it’s true that music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, it will be conjured over and over to ease this staggering loss. Proceeds benefit the Graham Grulke Education Fund.

09/05/08 @
The current version of Squeeze contains a couple of ringers, but with leading men Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook reunited, fans of quirky pop can rejoice. Without a new album, they’ll rely on the hits and a couple of treasured deep cuts, so expect a night of top-of-the-lungs sing-alongs. Appropriately, locals Fastball kick things off. Visit Geezerville for an interview with Difford.
07/11/08 @ Continental Club
Is She Weird, Is She White
It’s an interesting career move, setting aside new work to tour with a Pixies cover band – albeit one that offers its own interpretations of the source material – but that’s exactly what Americana rocker Bobby Bare Jr. is doing Friday. And in a shrewd booking move, the bill is that much more 1990s-tastic with locals Fastball kicking things off. Bare rolls out his original material Saturday with Mario Matteoli.
02/04/08 @ Antone's CLOSED
The Go-Go's
For a band that could have been relegated to the nostalgia circuit, the Go-Go’s still shine. Sure, the set list is populated with enough 1980s hits – “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Head Over Heels” – to make you ponder wearing bubble skirts and breaking out the mousse, but the presence of openers Fastball puts a 1990s pop spin on the night.
03/13/05 @ Hole in the Wall
Pub Rock Hoot Night
Elizabeth McQueen’s fine new tribute to Pub Rock, Happy Doing What We’re Doing, goes live and into overdrive with a cavalcade of stars that includes Fastball, Two Hoots & a Holler, Jane Bond, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, and more. Expect lots of great tunes from the likes of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Nick Lowe, Eggs Over Easy, Dr. Feelgood, and Eddie and the Hot Rods. Also appearing will be former Nick Lowe bandmate Bill Kirchen, an original member of Eggs Over Easy, Austin DeLone, and a reunited Mojo Nixon & the Toadliquors. Whew.
09/24/04 @ Saxon Pub
The Standing Waves
Two Fastball sets are followed by a rare reunion of the Standing Waves. Larry Seaman (Violet Crown), Randy Franklin, and Dave Cardwell will be joined by guests Davy Jones (Ideals, Hickoids) and Steve Marsh (Terminal Mind) for a return to local punk-era New Wave. It’s quite likely you’ll leave the evening humming "The Way," but it’s just as likely you won’t be able to get "Refugee" out of your head. KGSR will be broadcasting a portion of each performance.
Last Updated: March 8, 2008

Origin: 1994
Genre: Pop/Rock
See Also:
The Small Stars
Upcoming shows:
Sat., Nov. 5, 8 p.m. @
Austin Music Awards:
1998: Album of the Year
1998: Best Video
1998: Best Pop
1998: Best Single
1998: Band of the Year
1995: Best Pop
Full Discography:
Make Your Mama Proud
Hollywood Records (1996)
All the Pain Money Can Buy
Hollywood Records (1998)
The Harsh Light of Day
Hollywood Records (2000)
Painting the Corners: The Best of Fastball
Hollywood Records (2002)
Live From Jupiter Records
Jupiter Records (2003)
Keep Your Wig On
Rykodisc (2004)
From the Archives:
Page Two: GrulkeFest (September 7, 2012)

Local bands play loving tribute to Brent Grulke
Page Two: On Anniversaries and Loss (August 31, 2012)

A new print year begins as we celebrate an exceptional life
Off the Record (Music Column April 10, 2009)

Music news
TCB (Music Column June 16, 2006)

Music news
TCB (Music Column March 10, 2006)

Music news
TCB (Music Column December 24, 2004)

Going Braless in city of Small Stars and smashed guitars
TCB (Music Column February 13, 2004)

Rollergirls, Greencards, Tolkien, and rock & roll for credit at UT. What more is there?
Another Way (Music Story June 13, 2003)

Fastball's third act
Dancing About Architecture (Music Column January 3, 2003)

The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."
The Way (Music Story November 8, 2002)

Dancing About Architecture (Music Column August 9, 2002)

Fastball gains velocity, Herring swims upstream, and Spoon's new single is ripe for consumption
Dancing About Architecture (Music Column July 19, 2002)

Emo's turns 10.
Dancing About Architecture (Music Column June 7, 2002)

Everyone's got new albums coming out
Dancing About Architecture (Music Column December 21, 2001)

Fastball gets dropped, while fans of Billy Joe Shaver hopes he doesn't drop dead.
Dancing About Architecture (Music Column August 3, 2001)

The Live Music Capital threatens another stake in the heart of live local music.