Modern Baseball @ The Fillmore (San Francisco) 6.5.16
by Mayeesha Galiba (Journalism and Political Science), published July 23rd 2016
photos by Mayeesha Galiba
Philadelphia-based band Modern Baseball sold out The Fillmore in San Francisco, a major step up from years past. The band’s popularity has seen a considerable upward trend as they went from being a staple opener to a headliner that could hold their own.
Thin Lips were the first on the admittedly short lineup, and rocked the solid breakup anthem “Breaking Up and Breaking Down” from their album Riff Hard (which, fun fact, was released by Lame-O records, Modern Baseball’s first label). Lead singer Chrissy Tashjian was crass, hilarious and unapologetically punk. She was full of gay pride and enthusiasm, much to the delight of the San Francisco crowd. Thin Lips’ pop-punk style was a great way to start off the night, and deserved a solid rhythmic headbang sequence.
Continuing the pop punk theme was Joyce Manor, a band that hasn’t released new music in a few years, but still had a high-energy set with fan favorites and a plethora of circle pits on the floor. They kicked off their set with “Catalina Fight Song” off of their latest release Never Hungover Again, so there was no easing into the set — it was hard and fast from the start. The songs on the band’s set list varied in length and in style, but all were quintessential Southern California emo-boy which made it hard to take your eyes off of the performance lead singer Barry Johnson was delivering. The band even threw it back to older EPs with songs like “Five Beer Plan,” showing a wide representation of their discography, which is especially important for a band that has become relatively stagnant in terms of new content.
Now let’s set the stage with a ghost, a mannequin in a tuxedo, a plastic flamingo and some dope album art — all of which were prominently displayed on the stage. Modern Baseball walked onto the stage with the title track of their new album Holy Ghost playing in the background. Though the song is only about a minute long, it’s heavy and moves almost seamlessly into the next song “Wedding Singer.” The pace of Holy Ghost is faster than their previous albums, and dare I say happier? All the members contributed vocals, and I was particularly impressed by rhythm guitarist Brendan Lukens’ vocal performance. Guitarist and vocalist Jake Ewald would stop occasionally to look at the crowd in awe and just go, “Holy shit.” It was cool to see his obvious excitement to be playing this big of a show.
The older, angst-filled Modern Baseball still shines through with songs they sang from Sports, like “Re-Done” and “Cooke.” Modern Baseball sings about growing up in the way that makes you want to sing along, cry a little and also laugh because life is kind of ridiculously nostalgic. The audience never stopped having fun, was consistently engaged and just wanted to dance and mosh and crowd surf because they’re still young and dumb. They ended on an oldie, a popular jam called “Your Graduation,” and man, they deserved the positive reaction.