Review: Modern Baseball at the Newcastle Riverside

The American emo-rock band Modern Baseball had a show at Newcastle Riverside, with support from The Superweaks and Thin Lips. We walked into the venue when ‘The Superweaks’ were partway through their set, and were greeted with a stage full of people, including Modern Baseball’s bassist Ian Farmer and notably Pikachu.

Thin Lips were up next, and they were great fun to watch, with angsty pop-punk hits such as ‘My Mouth is Skinned Like an Apple’ and ‘Not Losing Sleep’ – the latter a song which features on the joint EP between Modern Baseball, Thin Lips and The Superweaks. The lead singer, Chrissy, had an incredibly powerful voice and the set was full of upbeat guitar riffs that I couldn’t help but bounce along to.

Modern Baseball kicked off their set with a selection of songs from their latest album, Holy Ghost. They started with ‘Wedding Singer’, which really made the crowd come to life – people surged forward, singing along passionately, jumping around and crowd-surfing.  It was followed by ‘Note to Self’ and ‘Mass’, both of which were delivered with incredible energy as the band moved around on stage, making it clear they were having as much fun as the rest of us.

To turn things down a notch, the other band members vacated the stage, as guitarist Jake Ewald stood alone to perform an acoustic set. This included songs such as ‘Cooke’ and ‘Coals’.  Whilst these were incredibly powerful and certainly a welcome chance to catch our breath, I couldn’t help but feel that this slower set went on slightly longer than I would have liked. Nevertheless, the energy went back up as Modern Baseball picked one very excited fan out of the crowd, to sing as they performed ‘The Weekend’ – a throwback hit from their debut album, Sports.

A few days prior to the show, guitarist and vocalist Brendan Lukens had announced that he would not be joining Modern Baseball on the tour, in order to stay home and focus on his mental health. This left me feeling slightly sceptical as to how good the gig would be without him. Whilst I cannot say that his lack of presence wasn’t noticeable, Modern Baseball managed to cope with his absence very well and adequately filled his place.  Members of the supporting bands chipped in, with Nick from The Superweaks joining in on ‘Rock Bottom’, and Chrissy from Thin Lips providing the vocals on ‘Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind’. A truly moving moment though was Chrissy’s contribution on ‘Just Another Face’ – this song was written by Brendan about his struggles with his mental health and as she sang the lines “even if you can’t see it now, we’re proud of what’s to come, and you”, I could tell she was singing it to honour Brendan himself.

 

Modern Baseball’s penultimate song was ‘Your Graduation’, a firm fan-favourite and my personal highlight. The crowd loved it and went wild as everybody sang along in heartfelt unison. After humbly thanking a list of people for making the shows possible over a ska/reggae instrumental, the band concluded their set with a fun cover of ‘When You Were Young’ by The Killers.

Watching Modern Baseball on stage was a lot of fun and thoroughly enjoyable; there was a good range of songs, that brought a range of emotions with them. The thing I loved most was how the bands looked like they were having the time of their lives throughout, and this was perfectly mirrored by the crowd.

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