Everyone enjoys a good house party, but L.A.-based comedian and podcaster Chet Wild took things to a whole new level this week.
Wild hosted a crowd of 30 strangers and dozens of friends Monday as the pop band Fastball played a concert in his living room to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
The show was the result of an intense, and often funny, Twitter campaign by Wild to have the band – best known for the 1998 smash “The Way” -- play a gig in his home. Using the hashtag #fastballatchets, Wild garnered grassroots support and even assistance from pop star Ben Folds in his unusual quest.
Fastball leaders Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo initially thought Wild’s efforts were just good-natured fun. They told him they couldn’t come to L.A. for a show without being compensated for their travel and time. But when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston two weeks before the band’s string of LA-area shows, Zuniga called Wild with a challenge: if he could raise at least $2,500 for Harvey relief efforts, they’d play the show.
With just 11 days’ notice, Wild swung into action. He raised more than $8,300 via an Indiegogo campaign by the time the show started at 7 p.m. Just over two hours later, the total had climbed to more than $12,000 thanks to online donations from the 12,000 people who watched the show stream on Facebook Live.
And Wild’s not done yet. He’s still accepting donations for at least another week.
“I was in the 9th grade when ‘The Way’ was on top of ‘VH1 Countdown,’” explains Wild. “I was at a Christmas party two Christmases ago and ‘The Way’ came on and they said ‘Oh, that’s that one Fastball song, and I said hang on, they had ‘Out of my Head,’ ‘You’re an Ocean’ and ‘Fire Escape,’ that you’ll still hear played in public sometimes.
I think people hear Fastball more than they recognize it and don’t realize they’re all by the same band.”
That passionate Fastball defense led Wild “down the rabbit hole of rediscovering them,” he says. The comic learned he enjoyed plenty more of their songs beyond the hits. He loved that the band is still composed of all its original members, a rarity among groups touring the nostalgia circuit. He compares their melodic pop-rock to the Beatles.
Fastball has maintained a strong cult following throughout its 25-year career. The band members still record new material, including this year’s “Step Into Light.”
Wild felt they deserved a second wave of attention.
“I started shoehorning them into conversations on my podcast [“The Least Anticipated Podcast of the Week”] and started hashtagging the band saying, ‘I’m going to let the world know you guys are great and have you play my living room,” says Wild. “It took 324 days and a lot of people thought I was crazy and thought it wouldn’t happen. I always knew it would happen, or I wouldn’t have wasted my time.”
One key moment occurred when Wild attended a Ben Folds concert and threw a paper airplane onstage with a note requesting him to play the band’s song “Out of My Head.” He added “I’ll explain on Twitter. Chet,”
Folds’ response? He played the song and led the crowd in a chant for the band to play Chet’s house.
Wild caught the band’s attention when he posted the video of the incident and thousands jumped aboard his campaign and tagging it with #fastballatchets.
Eventually Zuniga and Scalzo – who share lead vocals and guitarist duties for the band – phoned into Wild’s podcast to express their appreciation, noting the costs were prohibitive. But with the Hurricane Harvey challenge met, the duo arrived at Wild’s home for the promised concert.
They also managed to film a new music video for their latest single, “Best Friend” at the house earlier that day. Legendary video director Nigel Dick, who’s shot for dozens of superstars including Guns ‘N Roses and Britney Spears, helmed the clip.
“We’ve been aware of this for a year, so honestly, one of my motivations was to get him to stop,” laughs Zuniga. “But he seemed cool, and it’s not that big a deal to just hang out one more day and we got a video out of it. Fastball likes to maximize its time. We not only made a video but raised money for hurricane relief. We got a lot done with one bullet.”
“It was great fun and a bunch of money was raised, everyone had a good time, and we love riffing off each other,” adds Scalzo. “There’s no band I know of that does what we do. We get our whole band out but we’re entertaining ourselves first, enjoying each other and it’s a gas. I really love it. I think it’s what keeps our band together.”
Fastball’s hour-long set followed a string of standup performances by Unpops’ podcast hosts, including Wild and its founder, Adam Tod Brown.
Mixing a loosely planned song list with fans’ online requests for cover tunes, the duo tore through their hits along with surprises such as a hilarious take on Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” that exploded into frenzied dancing by audience members.
As the duo mingled with fans and posed for photos in Wild’s backyard after the show, Wild looked back on the entire experience with awed satisfaction.
“At the risk of sounding self-indulgent, I couldn’t be happier with the final product. It was a phenomenal show, and the fact that one crazy guy got everyone head bashing for an acoustic show is ridiculous,” says Wild. “I’m just really happy and I’m careful how I come down after this high. It’s time to check just five social media notifications a day, not 200. I didn’t take a single picture, and just enjoyed the show.”