Friday, 2 September 2016

Modern Baseball - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 01/09/16

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Playing the entirety of their 'Two Years No Basement' EP in full, Vicky Speedboat had me hooked. I'd never heard of them before but this duo will not easily be forgotten, especially after I realised that drummer and co-vocalist Sean Huber was opening for his own band - he's also the drummer for Modern Baseball.
That information only registered when guitarist and vocalist William Lindsay thanked Modern Baseball, joking "I'm grateful that they brought us on tour. They probably would have brought Sean either way...". I'm always a huge supporter of side projects, and musicians that can open shows for themselves are people that I highly admire. It takes a lot of stamina and passion to be able to perform two full sets in one night.
Vicky Speedboat were my highlight of the evening. Every moment of their set was utterly enjoyable, from the thrashing rock introduction of 'Philadelphia Contact High', through 'Passing Through Wales' (their ode to Le Pub in Newport) and the bittersweet 'Tequila Reluctant' ("I tend to fall in love at first sight two or three times a night").
If you only ever do one thing I suggest, make it this: go and listen to 'Passing Through Wales'. It's not as effective recorded as it is in a live environment, but it's still a bloody brilliant and very fun song. William shared that Sean wrote the song after their last trip to Wales, admitting he "couldn't remember any of Wales" with Sean quipping that "if I hadn't remembered any of it there wouldn't be this song". It embodies the spirit of the country ("have another, and another, and another!") and is a perfect way to promote a pub where they had a night of epic proportions. They shared that it was "the first time bringing it home" as they only released it back in November, and it received the best reaction of their entire set: all of the Welsh fans in attendance seemed very impressed by the tribute. 

Philadelphia Contact High
Roman Candle Fires
Passing Through Wales
Dave's Bed
Tequila Reluctant
Weathering Bell

I hated The Winter Passing. Admittedly not the entire package - musically they're very talented, with the guitar work being particularly gorgeous - but I didn't enjoy either of the vocal performances. Normally if a band has two vocalists I find at least one of them palpable, and I learn to deal with the other one, but I can't see that happening with The Winter Passing. 
Kate's vocal is overly shrill, jumping from octave to octave up the scale until even dogs couldn't hear it, and with songs like 'Flowerpot' featuring overly sexual yelps I found myself getting more uncomfortable as their time on stage progressed. 
The male singer used a less annoying pitch, but there was something about his vocal that just didn't appeal to me. The grating sound implied that he wasn't finding it too easy to hold out the longer notes, and the two vocals definitely contrasted more than they complemented each other. It was jarring, and I found myself glad when their set ended. It didn't seem like the most coherent choice for main support act: compared to Vicky Speedboat, who are musically and lyrically similar to Modern Baseball, The Winter Passing were the odd ones out on this bill. 

The Fever
Bottle Green
Penny Chains
Fruits of Gloom
A Different Space of Mind

I've intended on listening to Modern Baseball in the past, but I always forget about them. When 'Wedding Singer' was released a couple of months back I found myself excited for the new album and determined to give it a listen... Only to completely miss the release date and forget that they even had another full-length on the way. Oops.
So when I got offered a ticket to this show by my wonderful friend Gemma, I agreed with a slight reluctance. It's very soon after Reading festival where I had been intending to see their full set, but I ended up skipping out on them to meet Good Charlotte and ended up being very grateful that I'd said yes to this headline show.
As you can tell, I'm an avid Modern Baseball fan. It'll come as no surprise to you when I say that after the band had performed their first two songs, 'Holy Ghost' and 'Wedding Singer' (the opening and second tracks on newest album, 'Holy Ghost') I wasn't familiar with any of the other songs in the set.
This is why I'm grateful that Modern Baseball have such a fast-paced emo/pop-punk style. When a band playing 17 songs takes less than an hour of being on stage, the songs are short and to the point. There wasn't a moment of the set that bored me. I did find some of the ends jarring in their suddenness, expecting the track to continue only to be encountered with a new song the next moment, but it kept me on my toes. I didn't know what to expect, and I haven't felt that interested or involved in a headline show in a while.
I didn't know that all of the members performed vocal duties (with Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald classified as lead vocalists as well as guitarists) and that was another aspect that kept the show interesting. On each song the lead vocal changed, and because their tones of voices completely contrasted it was like listening to two different bands at the same time. It's not something I've experienced before, and it certainly makes them unique. Both vocalists are equally talented, and I found myself loving every moment.
Clwb Ifor Bach isn't a huge venue (with a capacity of just over 200) so the fact that it was sold out didn't guarantee it was going to be a crazy show, but the audience were passionate and very energetic for a Thursday night. You normally get that kind of mass crowd participation at larger shows, but it surprised me just how big a deal Modern Baseball are. They mean a hell of a lot to their fans, with the majority of the people in the room chanting every word to every song, and you can feel the excitement surrounding them. Having just released their third album I'm surprised they aren't already performing in bigger venues, but after playing at Reading and Leeds and announcing their upcoming 2017 tour, I can't imagine Modern Baseball returning to a room this size any time soon.
Now I've actually bought physical copies of all of their albums, I guess I should start listening to them properly... 

Holy Ghost
Wedding Singer
Note To Self
Fine, Great
Broken Cash Machine
Rock Bottom
Tears Over Beers
The Weekend
Apple Cider, I Don't Mind
Alpha Kappa Fall of Troy The Movie Part Deux
Charlie Black
The Thrash Particle
Just Another Face
Your Graduation

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