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Our Graduation: Reflections on Modern Baseball’s final run of shows at Union Transfer

Modern Baseball | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

A phrase springs to mind: “don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened.”

I heard that over the summer at the final night of The Stone Roses’ reunion tour in Glasgow; frontman Ian Brown said it just before leaving the stage as the final chords of “I Am The Resurrection” rang out. And it certainly applies back home as well, to Modern Baseball’s sold-out run of three shows at Union Transfer, their last “for the foreseeable future.” Continue reading →

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The Districts’ Rob Grote reflects on backing Daniel Johnston with Modern Baseball

Daniel Johnston | photo by Jackie Young | courtesy of the artist // Rob Grote of The Districts | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

When The Districts’ Rob Grote and Braden Lawrence attended a Daniel Johnston concert as teenagers, Grote remembers dreaming of a day when they could be a part of Johnston’s backing band himself. Little did he know that, in a few years, he’d not only get the opportunity to be a part of a rare Daniel Johnston tour, he and his band would pretty much direct the entire evening, albeit with a little help from some local friends.

“We all really like his music a lot, and it was definitely an influence on us,” Grote says. “Braden and I saw him at Union Transfer when we were still in high school, and the opening band backed him. Ever since then, backing him has been a dream of ours, although unrealistically we thought. We’re super honored to get to do it!”

Now, all these years later, Grote and his Districts cohorts have since moved from Lititz to Philly for school, left said school, and have become keystones of the city’s music scene with a devoted following in the U.S. and abroad. And, just like he dreamed about those years ago at Union Transfer, he and The Districts will be joining Daniel Johnston as the support for Philly date of the enigmatic singer-songwriter’s final tour. Continue reading →

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Modern Baseball is playing its last shows for the forseeable future: three nights at Union Transfer this fall

Modern Baseball
Modern Baseball | Photo by Jessica Flynn | courtesy of the artist

UPDATE 2:27 p.m. As Brendan Lukens tweeted this afternoon, these shows are the band’s last for the forseeable future.

Philly indie rock darlings Modern Baseball have been on hiatus since the winter – and today, we’re happy to report that they’ll return to the stage for a three-night stand at Union Transfer. This comes on the heels of its stint backing Daniel Johnston at The Tower in October — the band and friends will headline on Friday, October 13th Saturday October 14th and Sunday October 15th. Tickets are on sale now at Union Transfer’s website, and will probably sell out mad fast, so act quick.

Seriously, though, this is going to be huge. People are going to travel for it. It effectively makes up for missed opportunities to see the band when its touring plans earlier this year fell apart. Continue reading →

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Daniel Johnston is playing The Tower Theater and his backing band features The Districts and Modern Baseball

Daniel Johnston, circa 1983 | via Self Titled Mag

To call Daniel Johnston an influential songwriter is kind of selling it short. The man pioneered DIY before it was called that, dubbing self-produced cassette releases in his parents’ Texas garage, playing on the sidewalks of Austin and the sidestages of artists who would go on to be icons of modern rock. His songs are sensitive, introspective and imaginative, and his releases have been historically imbued with his singular visual art sensibilities. He’s persevered through mental health struggles, he’s had fans in Kurt Cobain and Conor Oberst. And he was the subject of a compelling documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, which introduced his work to a whole new generation of fans in the aughties.

Johnston just announced a “final tour” which isn’t a tour so much as it’s five dates scattered around the United States, with city-specific backing bands. In Philly, Johnston will perform at the Tower Theater on October 4th backed by The Districts and Modern Baseball. Tickets are on sale Friday, more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast, Modern Baseball, Beach Slang and more Philly artists to contribute to Polyvinyl’s Single Series

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Since 2014, Illinois-based label Polyvinyl Records’ Single Series has been putting out monthly exclusive singles from their favorite artists, all recorded on the same Tascam 4-Track cassette recorder. We’ve already gotten dual singles from Ra Ra Riot, Tim Kasher, and Joyce Manor this year, and we just got word that Philly favorites Japanese Breakfast are this month’s featured artist will be featured in the series later this year.

In addition, Modern Baseball, Beach Slang, Owen, Jay Som, and more are coming out with singles in the next couple months.

Continue reading →

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Modern Baseball cancel U.S. tour, taking “a break for a little while”

Modern Baseball | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Really, I cannot begin to imagine the intense pressure and stress and emotional drain of being an artist that hundreds of thousands of people adore. Your fans look up to you, they rely on you for an escape from or a catharsis of the negative energy in their lives. They rely on you for guidance and strength. But you’re human too, and you’re grappling with the same issues.

Philly indie rock four-piece Modern Baseball has always been up front and heart-on-their-sleeve about their feelings — it’s what sparked that connection with a massively devoted fan base in the first place, and what keeps it going. When the band launched their album Holy Ghost last year, they were very open about its true-to-life content: struggles with depression and mental health, for singer-guitarists Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald alike.

When Lukens decided to sit out of the band’s European tour this winter to focus on his mental well-being, it was the right decision — not just because we care about Bren and want him to take the best care of himself possible, but because it was a good lead-by-example moment. Acknowledge when you need to step away, acknowledge when you need help and accept it.

In that sense, it’s bittersweet news today that MoBo as a whole made a decision to cancel their entire U.S. tour, again, for the sake of their own mental health. Continue reading →

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Brendan Lukens to sit out of Modern Baseball’s European tour to focus on mental health

Modern Baseball | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN
Modern Baseball | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN

Modern Baseball is heading across the pond with Thin Lips and The Superweaks — but they’re making the run a member short, as guitarist / vocalist Brendan Lukens announced today he was not joining the band on the European tour to focus on his mental health.

Here’s his full statement, posted via the band’s Instagram. Continue reading →

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Help Brendan Lukens buy a new pair of socks by listening to Modern Baseball’s new single

Modern Baseball | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN
Modern Baseball | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN

Later this month, Modern Baseball will embark on a European tour with Thin Lips and The Superweaks, and as part of the tour, they’ve recorded a three-way split EP. Thin Lips’ track, “Not Losing Sleep”, premiered a few weeks ago, and now you can hear MoBo’s contribution. “This Song is Gonna Buy Brendan Lukens a New Pair of Socks” may not have much to do with buying socks, but it’s sure to knock yours off! Wow, that was awful. Forget that I said that. The song is good. Just keep reading. Please. Continue reading →

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Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald continues to please on Slaughter Beach, Dog’s “Forever”

 

Jake Ewald | courtesy of the artist
Jake Ewald | courtesy of the artist

With a successful album release in their rear view and an opening slot for Brand New in their future, Modern Baseball has been having quite the year. At this point, It would be easy for guitarist/songwriter Jake Ewald to rest on his laurels, but he’s not done yet. Somehow, in the midst of everything going on with his main band, he’s managed to write and record the debut album for side-project Slaughter Beach, Dog. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Philly favorites Modern Baseball to tour with The Front Bottoms and Brand New

Modern Baseball | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN
Modern Baseball | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN

Now this is huge. The mega-tour of my dreams was announced this week in the form of Philly punk sensations Modern Baseball heading out on a fall run with Brand New and The Front Bottoms. Speculation about this tour was flying around the internet a few days prior but it just seemed TOO good to be true, and so I brushed it off. Alas, you better believe your eyes because it is in fact happening and you’re not going to want to miss out on it. Although there’s no Philly date this time around, you’ll be able to catch them in Allentown, PA at the PPL Center on November 11th. Continue reading →