Modern Baseball | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com
Our Graduation: Reflections on Modern Baseball’s final run of shows at Union Transfer
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.”
I get it, bands don’t want to say they’re breaking up anymore. It makes the eventual seminal-album-anniversary gigs that are five or ten years down the horizon seem disingenuous; and then what if those shows go well and yield new albums? Sure, there’s an air of finality to the run of discounted merch that preceded the UT engagements, and it certainly seems on the surface like MoBo is ceasing to exist as a writing / recording concern, but if “farewell for now” is how they prefer it, so be it.
Whatever the case — what a way to go out. Three packed houses, three nights of stellar openers who all deserved to be put in front of a bigger audience. Harmony Woods and Small Circle on night one; No Thank You and The Obsessives on night two; Greg Mendez and Shannen Moser on night three. A cover of The Killers’ “When You Were Young” on Friday and Sunday; the band’s 2012 debut Sports in its entirety on Saturday, along with a hysterical two-and-three-quarters performances of “Your Graduation.” Ending it all with “Just Another Face,” one of Brendan Lukens’ songs from last year’s Holy Ghost that radiates self-assurance and optimism from a moment of personal weakness.
As Bren told us at the time: “This song kinda encompasses all of my songs but adds one defining theme of hope and that you cannot do anything alone. That I can beat my addiction. That I can understand and handle my illness. That I can take on aspects of my life that bring me stress and pain, but I cannot do it alone. That I need to swallow my pride by accepting the help others are offering me and better myself.”
This is a band that made hundreds of thousands of fans the world around feel less alone; it reminded us that others are also going through personal struggles with interpersonal relationships and mental health, finding our paths in life — things that the world likes to tells us to just suck it up and deal with in the socially prescribed way. MoBo was a reminder that it’s okay to just be you, and for these three nights at Union Transfer, thousands of people were just themselves. This extended from the band onstage –who seemed completely amped to be performing together, who were up there as friends who love to jam versus bandmates mired in acrimony — all the way to the fans who screamed along through the tears, smiles plastered wide on their faces.
It was a thing of beauty, it was a thing of joy. And it felt less like something ending, and more like a roomful of lives advancing to their next stage — our collective graduation, if you will.
Key photographer Rachel Del Sordo was in the pit and all around the room on night one — check out a gallery of her photos below, and give her a follow on Instagram over here.