By Sean Reis
PHILADELPHIA — Diehard fans crowd-surfed above. Mosh pits, for the brave few, broke out left and right. The remaining, rowdy attendees screamed their favorite lyrics at the top of their lungs. On Saturday, Oct. 14, Philadelphia pop-punkers Modern Baseball mirrored the passion of the 1,200 or so fans that sold out Union Transfer, as both sides were aware that the night could ultimately be one of their last concerts together.
The show was the second of three consecutive performances on the weekend of Friday the 13th. The trio of shows was also the beloved Philly band’s first appearance together since the announcement of a hiatus in February for mental health reasons.
The crowd seemed pleased to see “MoBo” back together, but band members Jake Ewald, Brendan Lukens, Ian Farmer and Sean Huber seemed even happier to share the stage for what could perhaps be the final time.
“I’m pretty sure I peaked,” said Nicholas Wodeshick, a senior communication studies major who attended Saturday’s concert.
A diehard MoBo fan since the release of the band’s debut album, “Sports,” Wodeshick picked the right night to attend the weekend-long residency — Modern Baseball started its Saturday performance by playing “Sports” in its entirety.
“I was very bummed to miss out on Saturday’s show,” said Luke Lenczuk, a junior international studies major who attended Friday’s and Sunday’s concerts. “Yet at their final show on Sunday, I was still able to catch a few off of that record. When that first break down of ‘Cooke’ hit my ears, I was dumbfounded. Sometimes you forget how great a band is, and Modern Baseball did not disappoint.”
No matter which of the three concerts fans attended, MoBo swung for the fences. Each night offered a special experience — not only in regards to Modern Baseball’s sets, but also the opening acts, who varied from day to day. After all, the band’s concert series was titled “Modern Baseball and Friends” so Ewald, Lukens and company could show off their up-and-coming colleagues.
Ewald has been a mainstay at the College since Modern Baseball first performed at the Rathskeller in 2014. Since then, Ewald has played at the College three more times — once more with Modern Baseball at the College Union Board’s 2015 Fall Concert, and twice last November, as both an acoustic duo with Lukens and as the frontman of his solo project, Slaughter Beach, Dog.
“Hearing the older songs into the latest album, you could feel how far MoBo had come,” said Amanda Brecher, a senior communication studies major who attended Saturday’s concert. “There was also a feeling of MoBo giving back by having a few relatively newer acts open up for them on every night.”
One of those openers was Philadelphia’s own Harmony Woods, a lo-fi indie rock act fronted by Drexel University freshman Sofia Verbilla with a backing band. Her guitarist, Chance Halter, was especially excited about the opportunity.
“I feel extremely lucky to be in a band at all, let alone one that got to (open for Modern Baseball),” Halter said. “It was a dream come true and I feel incredibly fortunate to have gotten to do that. It was completely surreal.”
Modern Baseball also performed more material from its sophomore album, “You’re Gonna Miss It All,” and its most recently released record, “Holy Ghost.”
MoBo closed the Saturday show with “Your Graduation,” a fan-favorite from “You’re Gonna Miss It All.” The band played the song not once, not twice, but three times, until the song’s final lyric was screamed in unison one last time: “go ahead and walk away.”
If fans could return to the opening number and “Re-Do” the weekend, many would without question. Others, however, may choose to accept the possible bittersweet end of an era. It’s currently uncertain whether or not Modern Baseball will ever take the stage together again, but fans have an optimistic attitude. Despite what “Your Graduation” suggested, no one can simply “go ahead and walk away.”
Spoken from a true fan’s heart: “All good things shouldn’t last forever,” Wodeshick said, “but I hope MoBo does.”