Whatever, Forever: Saying farewell to Modern Baseball
Fans on social media were heartbroken to find the band whose lyrics dealt with anxiety and depression were taking a toll on the band members themselves.
On Jan. 25, Brendan Lukens announced on the Modern Baseball social media accounts that he would be absent during the band’s European winter tour to focus on his mental and physical health. Attached to the announcement was a list of suicide and and other crisis hotlines.
A month later on Feb. 21, bandmate Jake Ewald posted on the band’s social media accounts that Modern Baseball would cancel their North American spring tour and enter an indefinite hiatus to focus on mental and physical health.
In the fall of 2011, Lukens and Ewald of Brunswick, Maryland moved to Philadelphia to attend college, where they would end up forming one of the bigger underground bands of the decade. The boys played as an acoustic duo when they became friends in high school and would meet future bandmates Ian Farmer and Sean Huber during their first semester of college, who would complete the emo revival band.
Lukens’ whiny voice along with lyrics that combined heartbreak and comedy created a quirky awkwardness that was relatable and enjoyable to listen to.
The 2014 release of the Modern Baseball’s sophomore album, “You’re Gonna Miss It All,” saw the band’s rise in popularity as the album reached the 97th spot of the Billboard 200. Modern Baseball opened for bands such as The Wonder Years and Brand New while headlining tours of their own.
Touring and releasing successful albums while attending college is something college bands can only dream of. The hectic schedule caught up to Lukens’ mental well-being. In the lead up to the Philly band’s final album, “Holy Ghost,” Lukens shared information about his near-suicide attempt and recovery in a 17-minute documentary titled “Tripping in the Dark.”
What made Modern Baseball’s following grow was their witty lyrics about college life and attention to social issues. Starting in 2016, Modern Baseball shows included gender-neutral bathrooms at the venues to create a safe space for their fans. The band was also vocal on the importance of mental health and suicide prevention.
Modern Baseball advocated for the diversity in music, but were met with backlash on social media when the lineup for their 2017 North American tour include bands consisting of only white men. Lukens took to Twitter to apologize for taking advantage of fans’ voices.
Modern Baseball grew bigger and faster than anticipated in the underground music scene, which led to a series of unfortunate announcements from the band in 2017.
“The project we started as a source of joy and positive expression had become something that was slowly eating away at our mental health and our friendships,” Ewald said in the announcement. “We have been championing the importance of mental health for a while now, and we recently realized that it would be wrong for us to ignore our own health any longer.”
The band overworked themselves by touring almost nonstop for years, which Ewald told Billboard was due to agreeing to every opportunity that came their way. Just like with Lukens’ announcement to miss the European tour, the band included various crisis hotlines for fans to call if needed.
After exactly six months of silence, Modern Baseball announced they were to play three shows at Union Transfer in Philadelphia Oct. 13-15 before entering hiatus. Believed to already be on the hiatus, the band clarified that these three shows would be the last for the foreseeable future. The shows’ lineup included Philadelphia emo artist Harmony Woods, ensuring the inclusion of a female artist.
The band did not disappoint with their final shows, all of which were sold out, as they played every song in their catalog, including songs not played since 2013 and a cover of “When We Were Young” by The Killers. The Oct. 13 show featured no encore, but the Oct. 14 show ended with “Your Graduation,” the band’s most popular song, being played three times. When playing a final series of shows, why not play the same song multiple times?
To cap off a six-year run, the final song the band played was “Just Another Face,” the closing track off “Holy Ghost,” with the final words sung being “Even if you can’t see it now, we’re proud of what’s to come, and you.”
Fans lucky enough to see the band perform these shows witnessed one of the biggest underground bands of the 2010s, however, each member will still perform music separately.
Lukens will perform solo under his name, Farmer will continue work as a producer, Ewald is fronting Slaughter Beach, Dog and Huber will open for Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties this fall with his side project Steady Hands. Whether Lukens, Ewald, Farmer and Huber get back together or not, Modern Baseball’s career is parallel to their songs; making an emotional impact within a short amount of time.