Modern Baseball (CANCELLED)
Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band, Sorority Noise, The Obsessives
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Doors 6:00 PM
In just a few short years, Modern Baseball have gone from college freshman self-recording their first record to a worldwide phenomenon. Somehow, it feels like just the beginning. In 2016, Modern Baseball will release their new album Holy Ghost through Run For Cover Records. The first album recorded by someone other than the band themselves, Modern Baseball enlisted Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Joyce Manor) at Headroom Studios in Philadelphia to help refine their sound. Holy Ghost shows off the band’s sonic growth, adding in new influences ranging from The Killers to Pedro The Lion.
In a tight 28 minutes, Holy Ghost covers an impressive emotional range. Throughout the process, co-songwriters Jacob Ewald and Brendan Lukens found themselves in different places writing different songs; so they split the record in half. The record kicks off with six songs from Ewald and ends with five from Lukens. What they ended up with was a complete record of the past two years– the highs alongside the lows, tales from the road and glorious days at home alongside songs of heartbreak and personal struggle.
Modern Baseball began as a high-school acoustic duo in small town Maryland, banding together over a mutual love of Say Anything, Motion City Soundtrack and The Gaslight Anthem. After Lukens and Ewald moved to Philadelphia to each attend separate colleges, they took advantage of the recording studios at Ewald’s university to record their debut full length Sports with fellow student and future bassist Ian Farmer. The band released the album through Lame-O Records in 2012, creating a full lineup with Farmer on bass and classmate Sean Huber on drums. Sports’ unique brand of scrappy indie-punk exuded a relatable charm that pleasantly caught people by surprise. Generating a buzz online and developing strong roots within the incredibly supportive DIY Philadelphia scene, Modern Baseball grew at a remarkable speed, quickly becoming one of the most popular bands in the punk and indie rock community.
The band quickly gained the attention of Run For Cover Records, who signed the young punks in early 2013. With a goofy and sweet stage presence, Modern Baseball saw their fans multiplying as they toured across the country on school breaks. Finding a deep connection in their tremendous honesty and earnestness, people flocked to the band from all corners of the punk, pop and indie scenes. By the time they released their follow up record You’re Gonna Miss It All in 2014, Modern Baseball had built a solid foundation of buzz and deeply passionate fans. The record charted at #97 on Billboard’s Top 200 and led them to tours with bands like The Wonder Years, Into It. Over It., The Menzingers, and even their high school heroes, Say Anything, as they toured across the US, the UK and Europe.
Modern Baseball’s music matures as its members mature, evident in the darker sound and lyrical focus of their 2015 EP The Perfect Cast. Still flaunting their signature sincerity, the band turns their adolescent nervous energy into insightful emotional awareness and sonic power. In 2016, Modern Baseball will release Holy Ghost through Run For Cover Records. The highly anticipated album brings a newfound weight to the band, as they continue to grow emotionally and musically with each new release. 2016 looks to launch the band into even greater things, bringing their fans along as they become a slightly older, slightly more profound version of Modern Baseball.
Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band
KEVIN DEVINE is used to living life in the gray. For the past 14 years, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter has oscillated between As and Bs: intimate acoustic moments and bombastic rock songs; deeply introspective lyrics and sociopolitical charges; the storm cloud and its silver lining.
Produced by John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) and released via Brand New’s Procrastinate! Music Traitors label, INSTIGATOR is Devine’s ninth full-length album and comes on the heels of a busy few years: In addition to recording two albums with Bad Books (the indie-rock supergroup he formed with members of Manchester Orchestra), he released the Kickstarter-funded double-album collection BUBBLEGUM and BULLDOZER in 2013 along with the wildly ambitious 2015 DEVINYL SPLITS 7” series with the likes of Brand New's Jesse Lacey, Perfect Pussy's Meredith Graves and Nada Surf's Matthew Caws.
Devine is a master storyteller, and he imbues Instigator - from the biting power-pop of "Both Ways" and “No Why” to the angular, Nirvana-esque "Guard Your Gates" & gorgeously finger-picked “No One Says You Have To” - with intricate details and often-uncomfortable truths. Their meanings are personal, but their themes are universal. It’s a skill that makes both his albums and his live show so alluring: Even when Devine’s writing about the world at large, he’s pointing a mirror back at himself.
That sensibility is present on “Freddie Gray Blues,” a harrowing portrait of the events surrounding the 2015 death of Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore police officers. Over haunting acoustic-based talking blues, Devine pays tribute to Gray before digging deep into his own past to reconcile both his privilege and social status as the son, grandson and nephew of NYPD officers. “I don’t think there’s a way for a person in my position to sing that song credibly without talking about why I’m in the room," he says.
And it’s there on “No History,” a string of personal vignettes centered on the September 11, 2001 attacks. It’s a song made much more meaningful by both the din of the 2016 presidential election and current global climate—a cautionary tale that one moment in time has wildly lasting repercussions.
When Devine’s past lives meet his present-day self on the career-defining “I Was Alive Back Then,” the beautiful duality of his art takes center stage: Life is never all peril or perfection, a country ripped apart by war and social injustice or the joy of holding your child for the first time. The extremes might be easier to define, but it’s in the middle where life really happens.
“That’s how I write records,” he continues. “You want to write about real shit. It’s really trying to communicate what I think it’s like to be me—even though I don’t know that all the time—and in the process help people touch a little closer what it’s like to be them, too.” XX
“I don’t want to be in an emo band anymore,” proclaims SORORITY NOISE frontman Cameron Boucher. “But I have no problem with people calling us that, because in the strictest of senses, we are an emotionally driven band.”
That, is Sorority Noise in a nutshell: part of a movement, but also discrete and determined to break free from the pack. Truth be told, the Connecticut-based quartet—Boucher, guitarist/vocalist Adam “Scuff” Ackerman, bassist/vocalist Ryan McKenna and drummer Charlie Singer—have always operated a little differently than most of their peers.
For starters, Boucher attended the University of Hartford for jazz saxophone, while guitarist Ackerman studies acoustics and upright bass. But it’s not just their unorthodox musical chops that set the band apart in the underground punk scene. With the release of their Topshelf Records debut, JOY, DEPARTED, Sorority Noise—recently named one of the 100 Bands You Need to Know in 2015 by Alternative Press—are poised to break out in a big way.
Joy, Departed is more than just the best iteration of Sorority Noise to date; the album also marks a creative shift for Boucher, who draws musical influence from a diverse crop of acts spanning Regina Spektor and jazz trumpeter Chet Baker to The Smiths and Broken Social Scene—and previously spent time fronting screamo band Old Gray. In some ways, the singer says he approached the creative process like writing his very first album.
Boucher started Sorority Noise in late 2013 with friends as an outlet to explore musical styles outside his work in Old Gray. The group then recruited Ackerman and issued their debut full-length, Forgettable, in May 2014. Much buzz—and tours with rising stars Modern Baseball and The Hotelier—followed, as did a split 7” with Somos and the arrivals of Singer (whom Boucher had played with in Old Gray) and McKenna.
Outside of pure proficiency, one of the more gripping elements of Sorority Noise's musical direction is the band’s willingness to speak of personal hardships, including the often-taboo topic of addiction on songs like the heart-wrenching album-closer “When I See You (Timberwolf).”
"There’s so many people having drug problems—and a lot of bands who play it safe and don’t want to talk about it,” Boucher explains. “I think it’s important to be shown in modern music. I like to be honest about my past and talk about things that have had me down. As a lyricist, you are responsible for the people who care about your music.”
That’s ultimately what makes Joy, Departed such an important album: It’s life, warts and all, sung by someone who’s been through it firsthand. It’s not always rosy, but it’s real. Above all, it’s an album meant to be experienced as a body of work—not single songs plucked piecemeal or shuffled on a streaming service. And for Boucher, he hopes it will show critics and fans alike Sorority Noise has something to say, something he’s willing to say as loudly as they’ll let him.
Nick Bairatchnyi and Jackson Mansfield built The Obsessives at fifteen, out of a childhood friendship and a misplaced love for bluesrock. "We wanted to start a band with a ‘The’ because bands like that three years ago were cool, like The Black Keys and The White Stripes," Bairatchnyi, the duo’s vocalist and guitarist, remembers while laughing at his ninthgrade naivety. Three years later, after a freshlyinked deal with upstart record label Near Mint and a revitalized mission to be a charged, affected two piece emo outfit, The Obsessives have become fixated on a new form. Their debut record, Heck No, Nancy, chronicles a series of revelations which center around a musical mentality that volleys between the expressive texture of Everyone Everywhere and the bouncy indie of bands like Dowsing and Runaway Brother. "This album lyrically and musically reflects the year I had before graduating high school." Bairatchnyi remembers. "We almost didn't make it to this record. We were going to record a fourth EP and do other things. Now that we actually did it, we're just looking for what's next."