On the 13th of February I got the opportunity to see the band Modern Baseball at the Bierkeller in Bristol and, being one of my favourite bands, I was more than excited to be on the front-row for the show.
Modern Baseball are an American pop punk band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and consist of Jake Ewald (guitar/vocals), Brendan Lukens (guitar/vocals), Ian Farmer (bass) and Sean Huber (drums). Their current discography consists of 3 studio albums: Sports, You’re Gonna Miss it All, and, most recently released in 2016, Holy Ghost. They have also done numerous splits with other bands, including a European Tour exclusive with Thin Lips and The Superweaks, who accompanied them on the 2017 tour. Due to personal reasons, Brendan was unable to join the band, however his songs were still performed with help from the two supporting acts.
The band sold out the 400 capacity venue with every member of the crowd squashed together tightly in the small space. The evening was started with a few songs from Thin Lips, a small punk band also from Philadelphia, who began the night with punchy guitar riffs and catchy songs to break the crowd in. Their set was shortly followed by The Superweaks, a rock band who brought pure energy to the stage in anticipation for the main act. In their final song, Farmer was brought onto the stage, taking the role of lead guitarist and showing off his playing skills. Both the support acts’ stage antics and crowd communication made them memorable, and both are easily worth listening to and looking out for future shows.
When Modern Baseball finally took to the stage, there were cheers from the whole crowd welcoming them, followed by the chanting of “Brendan” in his absence. Their set began with the song “Wedding Singer”, Jake’s lively single from their newest record, and the crowd immediately began moving; one person would begin to jump, followed by another until, by the end of the song, the whole crowd was going. In the middle of the set, the band left the stage apart from Jake, who performed three solo songs. During his first song, “Cooke”, the audience took the role of backing vocalists, singing the counter melody to Ewald’s lyrics, and even echoing the finger picking pattern played on the guitar. It’s easy to say that this was a gig where the crowd and the band felt like friends, singing with each other and both showing their happiness and enjoyment throughout the night. After Ewald’s short solo set, the rest of the band reappeared to perform some of Brendan’s well-loved songs. The first was a song called “The Weekend”, where Farmer asked the crowd, “does anybody know the words?” This being one of my favourite songs, my hand naturally went up straight away, and the next thing I knew I was onstage with the band being handed a microphone. The intro riff played, and the next 4 minutes consisted of shouting into a microphone, the crowd being just as loud, and me looking at the band in disbelief. When the song ended, I was hugged and high-fived before being sent back into the crowd, still buzzing from the experience. The night ended with a cover of “When You Were Young” by The Killers, which brought with it the last bits of crowd energy before the gig ended.
This was easily one of the best gigs I’ve been to, mainly due to the band/crowd synergy, and every member of the show exuding their enjoyment. Sadly, the band are currently on hiatus, however they are still definitely worth listening to and seeing live if/when they return from their break in the future.
Review and photos by Tamsyn Grant