Ode to Modern Baseball
How one band saw me through everything
By: Megan Hoff
The year is 2014. It’s my junior year of high school, I’ve just gotten my license, and everything sucks. I’ll spare you the intimate details of my teenage angst. For context, though, I’m from a small town (pop. 500). Everyone knew everything about everyone, and the people weren’t exactly… open-minded, which is common for most rural areas.
That same year, Modern Baseball, emo band, light of my life, released their sophomore album, “You’re Gonna Miss It All,” in February. I didn’t discover them until the fall. When I did, I was obsessed. I bought their CD and played it on repeat in my mom’s Chevy Impala. Their emo lyrics were a comfort, as they conveyed things I felt but didn’t know how to articulate. “Just walking in circles, and playing high school songs in my head / Because it's better than lying awake” are the lyrics at the end of “Two Good Things,” and they really resonated because I was dealing with intermittent insomnia.“To hell with class I’m skippin’ / let’s order food and sleep in / I’ve got so much to do / but it’s okay cause whatever, forever” on “Rock Bottom” perfectly captured how stressed out I was by everything: ACT scores, picking a college, my speech class, writing papers. They also talked about heartbreak—a lot—which I could (somewhat) relate to because I had a whole lot of unrequited love, as I had a major crush on someone who didn’t like me back: “I swear this has gotta be the / hundredth time I’ve thought of you tonight” (“Your Graduation”).
Fast forward to senior year, and things are better, but also worse. I’m so ready to graduate and get out, I can hardly stand it. I started listening to Modern Baseball’s debut album, “Sports.” It’s not that I hadn’t listened to it before, I was just so in love with “You’re Gonna Miss It All” that I never gave “Sports” the attention it deserved. The opening track, “Redo,” confronts the existential crisis of morality. “You got a smile that could light this town / And we might need it / Cause it gets dark around here” on “The Weekend” summed up how I felt suffocated and lonely and how my best friend could always help me feel better.
“When I moved away from home, 100 miles or so” (literally) for college in the cities, I was so excited to be on my own. But alas, college wasn’t the giant friend-making fest I thought it was going to be. I got along great with my roommates, sure, but I didn’t really have any friends besides them. This was mainly because I was an introvert and also because we lived in Wilkins Hall (apartments for second-year students). Needless to say, we didn’t make any friends in our building, and I struggled trying to make friends in class. While I did have a blast with my roommates, I was lonely.
Then, in November, my grandfather passed away. I had never lost anyone this close to me before. My mother’s father was the only grandparent I was close to; my dad’s parents are divorced and live in Washington and Iowa. I didn’t tell my roommates about it. I’m not sure why. I went home four times in three weeks: my sister’s confirmation, to see my grandfather when he was put on hospice, the visitation, and the funeral. Only a few weeks later, one of my teachers from elementary school and volleyball coach committed suicide. The hardest part was having to go back to school and grieve on my own. I didn’t have anyone to talk to in person about what was going on. One of the few things I found solace in was Modern Baseball’s third album, “Holy Ghost.”
This album was the epitome of working through shit. Lead singers Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald wrote each half of the album. The first half, Ewald’s, follows him as he works through his own grandfather’s death. Lukens’ half details his struggles with mental health, alcoholism, and a suicide attempt. All of this pain and growth culminates in the final track of the album, “Just Another Face.” Lukens takes the lead vocals here, singing out the chorus strongly and clearly each time:
If it's all the same it's time to confront this face to face
I'll be with you the whole way
It'll take time, that's fact
I'm not just another face, I'm not just another name
Even if you can't see it now
We're proud of; what is to come, and you.
I was comforted knowing that other people who didn’t even know me understood what I was going through. Just as I had shared their angst in high school, I shared their grief that first semester.