After a very brief stop over in February as a way of apologising for missing the Reading and Leeds festival last year, Modern Baseball decided to make one final visit to the UK before the highly anticipated release of their upcoming record Holy Ghost. The album is divided in two with both songwriters taking a side of the record each, and from the preview singles and the documentary Tripping In The Dark, it’s clear that Modern Baseball aren’t the same band that sang about watching Planet Earth and brainstorming tattoos.
From the get go, PUP are on hand to cause a ruckus. Their last time on these shores was alongside The Front Bottoms where they certainly made a lasting impression, given the number of people cheering when PUP mention the band’s name. Although the songs from the band’s self-titled debut album are more familiar to the crowd, it’s actually the newer material that seems to resonate more.
New single ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You I Will’ had members of the crowd arm in arm before descending into unrelenting chaos by seamlessly going into the older ‘DVP’ on the last chord. Slow burner ‘Yukon’ is embellished with dissonant harmonics provided by Steve Sladkowski, and it’s one moment where the band really toy with dynamics.
However, it’s ‘Reservoir’ which is perhaps the biggest highlight of their set, where the crowd suddenly feels a lot more claustrophobic and the room suddenly feels a lot sweatier. It’s an indication that PUP are truly on the verge of breaking through with this next record and could easily be headlining rooms like this on their next European excursion.
As previously mentioned, it’s only been two months since Modern Baseball played the UK (albeit, two intimate shows) and still they have the power to sell out the entirety of this tour, teasing only two songs from the upcoming record Holy Ghost.
The band reacquaint themselves with the Derby audience with some firm favourites that they may have heard last time the band played the city. ‘Fine, Great’ initiates the first batch of crowd surfers which seemingly get more and more dangerous as the night goes on, with the security calling for backup to catch the swarms of flying teenagers.
It’s the newer material where the crowd stalls however, ‘Alpha Kappa Fall Of Troy The Movie Part Deux’ is the first moment where the sea of bodies calms and pays attention, stumbling over half-learnt lyrics. This is quickly remedied by the fiery tempo of ‘Apartment’.
With their third album on the way, this could be one of the last chances to hear more of the deep cuts from the band’s 2014 effort You’re Gonna Miss It All (they played all but three songs), and ‘Two Good Things’ was certainly no exception. With Jake Ewald dedicating the song to “having a cheeky Nando’s” and also noting that last time the band was in the UK he “fucked up this intro every night”, the capacity of the venue lends itself to the twee Death Cab-esque harmonies in the bridge and in no time, it feels more like a football chant.
The band push themselves out of their comfort zone by launching into the two songs we’ve heard so far from Holy Ghost – ‘Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind’ is a huge highlight and even though it’s a punk gig, there’s a little bit of slapback delay through the PA on Brendan Lukens passionate voice which just sits perfectly on top of the guitars which take cues from U2 and The Killers. It’s the marriage of that and the driving bass which really helps make the song sound so unique and ready to become a festival anthem.
It’s on ‘The Weekend’ where everything comes together and the audience and the band collectively give it their all. With bassist Ian Farmer opening up the song with a few bars of The Killers’ hit ‘All These Things That I Have Done’, the audience prepares themselves in this calm before the storm for the chaos that is to ensue.
Suddenly, everyone rushes to the front. People are jumping over the barriers like lemmings over a cliff and forcing their way back in the crowd to do it all over again. The hand on heart chorus is screamed along into the rafters and the band even top it off by bringing back the refrain of ‘All These Things That I Have Done’, the venue erupting in song.
Photos by Dan Hess.