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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Fastbacks Stay on Slow Track to Success

November 08, 1994|LORRAINE ALI

Seattle's Fastbacks have inspired half of the Northwest's '90s rock bands, but even after 12 years the power-punk quartet itself remains fairly obscure.

Sunday, at Hell's Gate in Hollywood, the quartet banged out hyperactive pop for a small group of avid fans while messing around on stage as if at a casual rehearsal.

Half the set was so loud it massed into one eardrum-busting buzz, the rest slap-happy punk with no particular place to go. Though fun in spots, there was a nagging sense of defeat as the band seemed to just give up toward the end--playing sloppily, even by grungy standards.

There was hardly time to clap in between numbers as the band jammed songs back-to-back Ramones style. Lead singer and bassist Kim Warnick, clad in cutoffs and plenty of eyeliner, sang in tough monotones, while second guitarist and singer Lulu Gargiulo injected engaging, sing-to-yourself-in-the-shower vocals.

Kurt Bloch, the group's primary writer, provided jokes in between numbers, then launched catchy and moving tunes, motivating a few audience members to pogo. But the Fastback's main asset--a driving pop sensibility--ultimately became buried under a haphazard delivery with no zeal.

Watching the otherwise likable band, you could see why it's remained on the fringes--it's hard to embrace a group that shows so little interest in its own work.

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