I’m an emo/pop-punk kid, and there isn’t a band that I find more sums up all that’s good about that genre than Modern Baseball. Personally, I find that they bring joy, and an amazing amount of optimism and enthusiasm to the scene.
Modern Baseball announced their break up just after I saw them, at what was devastatingly probably the worst gig I’ve been to. But that had nothing to do with Modern Baseball, and everything to do with the people that stole all the things I needed to get back home. I grieve for that gig. It was my last chance to see them, possibly ever. And they played amazingly. Shortly before the tour, Brendan Lukens, one of the guitarists and vocalists, announced he wouldn’t join the band in Europe due to ongoing mental health problems. Jake Ewald, Ian Farmer, and Sean Huber did a fantastic job at holding up the show. The support were great, I had a chat with them afterwards to see if anyone had handed my stuff in and they were incredibly lovely.
But holy shit have the band been going through a lot. Both Brendan and Jake have been very open about their mental health issues. Their most recent full length, Holy Ghost, was their most emotionally honest work to date. Gone were the ‘this girl doesn’t like me’ lyrics of the past (don’t get me wrong, those were fun and done in a way that was respectful) and in came some of the best lyrics I’ve heard possibly ever. Lyrics like “stitch the gaps that destiny assumed/with floral sutures/are you hiding or have I abandoned you?”
Brendan and Jake are both great with queer and trans issues too. There were gender neutral toilets at all of their gigs, and you only have to look at their social media profiles to see that they’re sharing relevant articles and assessing their own behaviours. They seem to actively seek out queer and trans artists to tour with them too. It’s incredibly refreshing to see such a big band beginning to normalise this kind of action. After all that’s happened in punk and emo over the last year, I don’t want to put anyone on a pedestal, but the development of Modern Baseball so far is, I hope, a precursor to further growth, development, and healing in the punk scene.
I hope Brendan and Jake find all that they need in their respective projects. I’m very much looking forward to Jake’s Slaughter Beach, Dog album, Birdie, which is to be released soon. I’ll keep watching Brendan’s sites eagerly in case he releases anything. I’m glad they’ve both been able to, under enormous pressure otherwise, put their own wellbeing first. It’s inspiring that after all their fame and success, they’ve been able to take a step back and say ‘this is too much right now.’
Photo taken by Jessican Flynn