It was late 2014 when I first heard the lead track from Modern Baseball’s sophomore LP, “You’re Gonna Miss it All.”
The song, “Fine, Great” immediately struck me. The riffs were simple but catchy. The percussion pounded. The lyrics were relatable as hell. It was the first time I’d heard someone mention Instagram in a song.
Modern Baseball was my professor in the intro course of melodic punk, emo and modern indie rock. Without Modern Baseball, I wouldn’t look at Philadelphia — where the band formed — as this mecca of rock music. Without Modern Baseball, I wouldn’t know bands like Marietta and PUP. Without Modern Baseball, I don’t know if I’d have the same love for music as I do now.
Modern Baseball is Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald on vocals and guitar, Ian Farmer on bass and Sean Huber on drums. There were a few times in my life during which it felt like those four were the only friends I had, or at least the only people that really understood how I felt on a daily basis.
“I hate having to think about my future,” Lukens sings in “Fine, Great” over blistering guitars and pounding drums. “When all I wanna do is worry about everyone but me.”
Those words resonated with me. They bounced around my mess of a brain for weeks after hearing them. They rang true for me, and maybe for a lot of other people growing up. A byproduct of the social media age, at least for me, is an unnecessary interest in what others are doing. I don’t really care what everyone else is doing, but some days I feel like I have to know everything that’s going on.
Modern Baseball captured what it felt like to grow up. They composed witty, sometimes funny songs about the perils of being in love and being alive.
“Oh, the future freaks me out,” Lukens sings on 2012’s “Re-Do.” “But I guess I could just curl up in a ball.”
“Trying hard not to look like I’m trying that hard,” Ewald sings on “You’re Gonna Miss It All” standout “Two Good Things.” “Failing miserably at everything, including that.”
Modern Baseball captured something that has yet to be replicated — their songs were a real look at adolescence.
Their first album “Sports” was released in 2012 when Lukens and Ewald were still seniors in high school. They recorded the album in their school’s studio.
The songs are sweet, but they’re never saccharine. A few tracks are about girls, but they’re not self-pitying and they’re not anthems of loneliness.
“So, is this the hook you wanted?” Lukens sings on 2015’s “The Thrash Particle.” “Is it stuck inside your head? Can you sing it with your friends? Or alone?”
Modern Baseball’s music was an outlet for me. Unfortunately, the band broke up shortly after releasing their third album “Holy Ghost” in 2016. It cancelled its tour and went on an indefinite hiatus, citing multiple mental health issues as their reasons for putting the band on the back-burner.
I wish I had more adjectives to describe the band's riffs because those guitars go so hard. I wish they were still together making music, but I understand why they don’t. It’s important to not hold onto something if it hurts you; pulling it closer will only make the pain sharper. Make room for the new, but you can at least leave a space on the mantle for a snapshot of a simpler time.
“It’s been three whole years of me thinking about you every day,” Lukens deadpans on “Your Graduation.” “Sometimes for hours, sometimes in passing.”
It’s been five whole years of me thinking about Modern Baseball. Maybe not every day, but definitely for hours. Thank you, MoBo, for being there for me when I was growing up. Who knows where I’d be without them.
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