Joy-bursting smiles donned the faces of the Philadelphia pop punks. It’s a contagious quirk in their performance that beckons like a close friend. Make that a best friend — they won’t hold back in telling you that you’re being shitty in “Fine, Great.”
Their youthful vitality is fresh, but it’s the layered, built maturity that cultivates their sound. If it weren’t for the bouncing nature of Modern Baseball, you could envision curling up on mismatched couches, exchanging stories in the famed “Apartment” of the lucky lady the fellas fantasize over.
MOBO took a short break over the summer, canceling a string of Australian tour dates, after bandmate Brendan Lukens expressed need to address his battle with depression. Instead of anger, the band was met with love and support from over 100,000 fans. In many ways, the time off paid off. There’s a renewed sense of passion for their performance, and Brendan looks even happier than the first time I saw Modern Baseball perform a year prior.
New tracks from upcoming EP, The Perfect Cast, are a refined expression of reflection; a sharpened sense of musicianship appears in songs like “The Thrash Particle.” It’s provoking, honest, and contains a deeper essence of who exactly the members of Modern Baseball are. With a couple of plays from the EP throughout their set, it’s a guaranteed hook we all wanted.
The track that blasted the most stage divers into the air is hard to pin down, but thrash-favorite “Your Graduation” sent the room into a smashing scene. It could’ve been broken hearts bleeding or ripples of power chords driving fans into hysteria. This energetic command swept the entire Orpheum into a space of sonic waves.
Jeff Rosenstock’s performance oozes a warmth that spreads from the moment he steps on stage. The only kind of “Nausea” fans crave is that which Jeff deals in a flaring performance. He won the night between his Antarctigo Vespucci set and the explosive “You, In Weird Cities.”
Maybe the magic comes after years of crafting a presence and performance in Bomb the Music Industry!, but Jeff has this joy he exudes through every moment of his set. Belting “Hey Allison” left the entire room breathless from screaming with such vigor. With such a diverse background in music, there’s a hint of so many genre flavors packed in his music: ska, pop punk, post-hardcore, etc.
Jeff’s has touched, or been an asset in, so many of my favorite acts: Andrew Jackson Jihad, Mustard Plug, and The Arrogant Sons of Bitches. And his influence is unmistakeable in up-and-comers like Joyce Manor. If there was a single individual in the punk scene I could embrace in thanks for his DIY resiliency and passion, it’s Jeff.
Indie splashes balanced with Midwest emo tantalized the moment that Tiny Moving Parts smashed into their set. Their sound is a refreshing outpouring of screaming instrumentals. There’s a hint of angst and irresistible ferocity locked in their performance, especially in “Always Focused.”
Softened post-rock with heavy reflection make smash-hit “Dakota” and heart-tightening “Fair Trade” a rich experience live. The Minnesota act wrenches and twists with a few heavy lyrics, but it’s the emotion inflected in the instrumentals that make their performance unforgettable.
At last, I satiated a long term craving to see Antarctigo Vespucci perform. Unfortunately, PUP had to cancel their Tampa performance, so Chris Farren made the drive to play alongside co-conspirator Jeff Rosenstock. Taking on a pop punk meets synth-indie vibe, Antartigo Vespucci as a project blares.
I’ve always appreciated Chris Farren as a favorite in the pop punk scene, especially in the realm of The Fest. But watching him slam alongside Jeff became a magical experience. Screaming along to “I’m Giving Up on U2” is the release of pent-up frustration that’s well deserved after someone close has been a total shithead to you. But it was Antartigo Vespucci who could “Save Me From Myself” with addictive electronic bounce. It’s just like they’ve suggested: “… now I know what they mean when they say some feelings are impossible to place.”
It seemed like an eclectic line up for Modern Baseball to team up with Tiny Moving Parts and Jeff Rosenstock, until I felt the unifying element in each of the performers: a sense of intimacy, of connection that only these artists could convey in their closeness to music and the fans.
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