On Wednesday, Exit/In was packed out by punk fans for the Nashville return of the beloved Modern Baseball alongside the band’s tour mates Joyce Manor and opener Thin Lips.
Modern Baseball is fresh off the release of their third and latest LP, Holy Ghost. The Nashville show was the first stop of their summer tour across the U.S. to promote the album.
After wading through a long line to get in the door, I arrived about two songs into Philly punks Thin Lips’ set. They held a powerful presence in the venue with messy, loud punk rock that was rough around the edges in the best way. They played for a little over 30 minutes and made a quick exit as the fans started piling in.
The crowd was mainly teens, crowding in the pit, with a sprinkle of college-age to mid-twenties fans of the genre.
Joyce Manor soon came on in full force. They mixed equal parts emo melodies and pop punk breakdowns for an all-consuming live show. With youth anthems like “Constant Headache,” the group managed to elicit united feelings of angst and heartbrokenness to the audience throughout the show. The most impressive of the four-piece was undoubtedly the drummer, who worked overtime to provide a steady background for their fast-paced sound. During the set, the crowd began getting rowdy and crowd-surfing. However, some kids thought it was cool to crowd surf and run across the stage, often knocking into band members while they were trying to play their guitars and causing a pause in the performance. Despite this, Joyce Manor was the highlight of the night and expertly balanced unruly rock with emotional undertones.
Modern Baseball’s headlining spot was not a disappointment. Their new album, Holy Ghost, is largely a departure from their typical sound; it’s slower and layers on the emo heavier than any of their previous releases. This made for a slower show, but nonetheless showcased the young band members’ raw talent. It was remarkable to see two frontmen share the stage equally, with singers/writers Jake Ewald and Brendan Lukens taking turns singing the different tracks from Holy Ghost. The album has a very “haunted past” kind of theme that transcended into the live setting. The serious tone stopped neither the band nor crowd from moshing, singing along and enjoying the show. The group sprinkled in a few old songs from their critically acclaimed album You’re Gonna Miss It All, but not as many as I and most other attendees had anticipated. My personal favorite song of the set was “Tears over Beers” from their debut release Sports — a disparate sounding hit about young love and moving away from home. The overall performance was a little rusty, but excusable as it was their first stop on this tour, meaning their first time playing some of these songs in front of a large audience. This show proved Modern Baseball’s spot apart from the cluster of pop punk bands trying to make it in the industry and displayed a young but wise sense of musicianship.
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