by Matt Kelchner
As 2014 begins to wind down and the “Best Of” lists start pouring in, it should be no surprise to find Modern Baseball and their sophomore release You’re Going To Miss It All popping up left and right. They’ve spent much of the past year touring relentlessly and the venues they play keep getting bigger and bigger. Last Thursday night they brought their current headlining run to South Street for a show at the TLA. With only a handful of tickets left hours before the show, the night ended up being a sold out homecoming show.
Along for the ride were a handful of young, up-and-coming bands looking to follow in Modern Baseball’s footsteps. First up were Boston’s Somos. The two bands have a long history together as they played together in Philadelphia for one of Somos’ first concerts outside of their hometown. Most openers end up playing for only a small crowd but eager concertgoers packed the TLA early. Somos ripped through a short but sweet set that featured highlights from their debut LP, Temple of Plenty.
Next act up threw the crowd a bit of a curveball (sorry, I had to fit in at least one baseball pun). Crying combine fast, chugging rhythms with with chaotically melodic chiptune melodies. Led by energetic singer Elzaia Santos, the 8-bit infused trio blazed through a set comprised of songs off of Get Olde / Second Wind. Santos’ voice and the bleeps and bloops battled each other throughout the set as they got the crowd revved up and, surprisingly, even moshing. Crying won over a lot of hearts of new fans Thursday night and it’s only a matter of time until they are moving up to bigger and better things.
Thursday night was the first night that Foxing, the third band to play, jumped back on this current Modern Baseball tour. Just like Modern Baseball, Foxing have also spent much of 2014 touring and their experience from such shined on stage. After soundchecking to about :30 seconds of an R. Kelly song, the band went off stage and their intro music came on. It was then Celine Dion’s filled the air as the audio track from the scene in Titanic that featured “My Heart Will Go On”. As Kate Winslet tells Leo DiCaprio to draw her like his French girls, fans waved their lighters and cellphones while others, unable to contain themselves, crowdsurfed.
Foxing then came out and followed up their epic introduction the only way anyone could have, with an epic and unforgettable performance. Lyrically the songs are brutally honest and singer Connor Murphy almost seemingly bleeds out the heartfelt emotion as he belts out each and every word. And when he’s not, he’s doubling up and playing trumpet. The sprawling, intricate layers built within songs like “Inuit” and “Bloodhound” felt even bigger played live. Foxing’s night ended with one of their best, “Rory”. The band then walked off stage without any grand finale or exit. Nothing else was needed after the set they had performed.
The final band out of the massive four act group of support was Knuckle Puck. Sticking to more of a “traditional” form of pop punk, they kept the crowd going after Foxing’s mighty performance. Somehow a band without any full length albums has amassed such a devoted following that it’s almost as if they could continue to release EPs, splits and singles. Knuckle Puck played hits from a number of their various releases, including Dome Come Home in it’s entirety. After a sweaty and busy set for both the band and fans, Knuckle Puck made way for the hometown heroes to take the stage.
Before they jumped into their set, singer/guitarist Brendan Lukens explained how they had been looking forward to Thursday night’s show at the TLA for a long, long time. And then they dove head first into a night filled with as many songs as they could squeeze into. They kicked things off the same way You’re Going To Miss It All begins, with the powerful one-two combo of “Fine, Great” and “Broken Cash Machine”. Then they switched to two favorites off their debut Sports, “Redo” and “Tears Over Beers”. Modern Baseball teetered back and forth between the two the entire night. They also managed to throw in a few older, pre-Sports tunes in “It’s Cold Out Here” and “Hope” and a cover of The Killers’ hit “When You Were Young”.
As fun and catchy as their music is, Modern Baseball’s strength is in their incredibly honest and personal lyrics. The frank and witty style shines as well as sticks whenever any song comes up and it showed Thursday night. Lukens and fellow guitarist/singer Jake Ewald traded vocal duties with the other two members joining in on background vocals, but they could just played as the crowd was singing along, word for word, just as loud as they were.
Modern Baseball found themselves without words multiple times in between songs as they were standing in awe in front of a sold out room of 1,000 fans. It was a huge step for a band who last played back to back shows at the Barbary (which can hold around 400 people). Towards the end of their night they took time to thank another local band, The Wonder Years, for their guidance and wisdom along their quick rise to fame. The Wonder Years returned the favor by helping out on vocals to “Your Graduation”, the final song before the encore. And it only took them a few moments to come back out to wrap up the night with “The Weekend”.
In a very short amount of time Modern Baseball have gone from playing West Philly basements to selling out huge Live Nation venues. Thursday night showed that they are more than capable of taking the next step in their musical careers. If this was any indicator of things to come then 2015 looks to be an even bigger and better year, all with their hearts on their sleeves and a chip on their shoulder.