Tag Archives: jeff rosenstock

RDR Music Director’s Top 10 Live Acts of 2016

Every year, I make sure to spend a decent chunk of my hard-earned income on supporting the amazing bands I love so much. It’s not like you make much money from streaming royalties unless you’re, like, The Weeknd or something, so most independent and lesser-known bands make their money from ticket sales and merch sales. It’s for this reason, and many others, that I make it a goal to see as many bands as I can, especially in low-cost, intimate local venues.

Listed here are my ten favorite live acts of the year, which I found to be an extremely difficult thing to measure. One must consider both the effort and performance of the artist as well as the overall subjective experience. It’s this mish-mash of objectivity and subjectivity that has helped me perfect this list, and understand that this is not meant to say that one act is better or makes better music than the other. All these artists are fantastic and deserve their spot on this list for their efforts and the success of those efforts in my personal experience.

10. Show Me The Body (The Vera Project, September 2016)

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(Photo credit: Andy Sawyer)

New York noise rock group Show Me The Body has been carelessly melding post-hardcore, hip-hop, and experimental rock music to craft the ultimate NY experience. Think of the gritty, grimy nature of groups like Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Anthrax, and Ratking distilled into one, transcendentally aggressive experience. This is SMTB in a nutshell.

I learned a lot about the trio when I saw them perform in the gallery space in The Vera Project, an all-ages venue located in the Seattle Center. Namely, I learned that lead vocalist Julian Cashwan Pratt plays the banjo, not an effects-laden guitar as I initially assumed when I first dug into their 2016 debut album, Body War.

I also learned that SMTB are some intimidating, hardcore motherfuckers. Despite being only a couple years older than me, the group’s aura was one of experience, cynicism, and rage. Despite being a NY native, Pratt showed solidarity with Seattle’s disenfranchised by revealing a crudely made “Fuck South Lake Union” shirt. Genius.

They only played for like 30 minutes, and things took an uncertain turn when some drug-addled misfits started a legit fight in the mosh pit. As tensions mounted in the crowd, Pratt tackled and effectively forced out the offenders, making it really clear that not one bit of that shit will be tolerated at a SMTB concert. It was awesome, and made me enjoy the show that much more, especially with the threat of being tackled by a cokehead effectively removed.

Overall, this band is an absolute riot when performing live. It seems like they opt to go for the “house show” appeal, setting their instruments up on the floor, level with the crowd. Seeing this band live is a personal experience, especially if you’re right up front where you can be grabbed and have your faced screamed into by Pratt. Additionally, the band’s bassist and drummer make for an extremely tight rhythm section, especially as the bass parts get more and more complicated.

Band’s performance: 9/10

Personal experience: 7/10

Avg score: 8/10

9. Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Neumos, January 2016)

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(Source: Jambase)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor has been on my must-see list since their brilliant first comeback record back in 2012, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! I unfortunately missed them at Primavera Sound Festival in 2014 (I saw Kendrick Lamar instead, which I don’t regret). Thankfully, they put out another post-reunion album, 2015’s somewhat underwhelming Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, which was basically a recording of the group’s 40-minute song “Behemoth,” which they’d been playing live for years.

And, as you can guess, this track made up about 50% of the band’s set at Neumos, when 2016 was but a young cub. The eight-piece Canadian post-rock collective set up a semicircle of chairs and instruments onstage, projector and anarchist literature in tow, and set that fucking stage on fire (not literally).

Performing for over 90 minutes, GY!BE proved why they’re still one of the most vital live acts in music today. The sold out crowd of middle-aged folk and young hipsters alike would probably agree with me. I got to hear a revitalized edition of the aforementioned Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress in addition to the passionate, tight playing of some of the band’s classic material.

While not the life-changing experience I had hoped it would be, I was still beyond floored with the group’s performance. To hear them play such long songs and know exactly how they’re going to sequence was even more rewarding to me than actually being there and hearing the music performed live. Regardless, GY!BE brought a level of intimacy that is typically absent in post-rock, and I’m extremely happy I was able to cross them off my list.

Band’s performance: 9/10

Personal experience: 7.75/10

Avg score: 8.4/10

8. Carly Rae Jepsen (Showbox, February 2016)

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(Photo credit: Sunny Martini)

Canadian pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen recently appeared on both my Top 23 EPs of 2016 and Top 50 Albums of 2015 list, so naturally my newfound appreciation for her impeccable music would result in money spent on the real thing. As soon as I found out she’d be at one of my favorite venues, The Showbox, I unhesitantly bought a ticket. And it was so fucking worth it.

Playing virtually every song from her 2015 sleeper hit E•MO•TION, as well as her inescapable bop, “Call Me Maybe,” Carly and her band didn’t miss a beat. The musicianship was extremely tight, CRJ really made it seem like the band gave the show a sense of completion.

And, of course, CRJ played the frontwoman role extremely well, whether she was serenading the audience with a performance of her Dev Hynes collaboration, “All That,” or giving us goosebumps with the iconic saxophone lead of “Run Away With Me.” She even, *gasp*, made eye contact with me for a couple seconds during a song. I think I now know what Justin Bieber fans feel when he hits the stage.

I’m not ashamed of how great this concert was, nor am I ashamed of how many words I know to literally every song on E•MO•TION. With her newly released E•MO•TION SIDE B EP, I can only hope she’ll be making her way back to Seattle next year so I can get another chance to see the undisputed Pop Queen of 2016 in the flesh.

Band’s performance: 8.75/10

Personal experience: 9/10

Avg score: 8.9/10

7. The Dillinger Escape Plan (El Corazon, October 2016)

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(Source: Metal Injection)

Experimental metalcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan, whom I’ve loved for many years, just released their brilliant and final album, Dissociation, which I’ve been enjoying quite a bit. Additionally, the group has been embarking on a tour to mark the end of the band, making it quite clear that these would be the last chances to catch TDEP at one of their notoriously raucous live events. I obliged.

While El Corazon isn’t my favorite venue in the city, it consistently comes through with amazing metal concerts. And so far, this is definitely my favorite show I’ve seen at the venue. When TDEP finally came on after, like, three opening acts, they lit up that venue the way I didn’t think an artist could.

Vocalist Greg Puciato made all the horrifying sounds he makes on the album, and guitarist Ben Weinman hung from rafters and stood on top of the audience while unleashing impossibly complicated riffs. It’s amazing to me that the band can balance an energetic, frantic performance with an impeccably played song in fuck-if-I-know time signature.

In addition, the concert was made into a truly special event when they invited original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis (who performed on their amazing debut album, Calculating Infinity) to join them for a couple songs. Needless to say, this filled me up with glee.

And, of course, the mosh pits were violent, filthy, sweaty, and hot. So much so that, for the first time in awhile, I actually had to take a break during the band’s set to catch my breath, tie my shoes, and hydrate. It was so awesome.

Band’s performance: 10/10

Personal experience: 8.5/10

Avg score: 9.25/10

6. Jeff Rosenstock (Funhouse, May 2016)

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(Source: Brooklyn Vegan)

At this point in the year, I had no idea that Jeff Rosenstock was five short months away from blowing my mind yet again with another amazing solo album. All I knew is that he was 14 months out from first blowing my mind with We Cool?, a pop-punk album that reclaimed Rosenstock’s position as the G.O.A.T.

His headlining set at Funhouse was raucous and passionate, much like the small crowd of people gathered to partake in the merriment. This was a much more spirited performance than what I caught when Rosenstock opened up on the 2015 AJJ/The Smith Street Band tour, due in no small part to the fact that Jeff could be the star of the show. Him and his amazingly talented band blazed through all the remarkable tracks on We Cool?, as well as a couple newer and older songs.

There isn’t much else to say, honestly. Apart from a humorous half-cover of Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away,” Rosenstock didn’t stray much from the songs he’s more than used to performing live at this point. When it’s music this good and you’re as passionate a punk rock vocalist as Jeff Rosenstock, it’s hard to play a bad show. Now I just need to catch him live a third time when he brings the more complex, political music of aforementioned new album WORRY. to the stage.

Band’s performance: 9.5/10

Personal experience: 9/10

Avg score: 9.25/10

5. Matmos (The Vera Project, December 2016)

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(Source: i1os.com)

Experimental electronic duo Matmos are way more than two of the creative minds behind Björk’s early 2000s output. They’re also two of the most creative minds to ever put out music under the “electronic” label, with their trademark unique brand of sampling bringing them a cult following.

For their first LP in 3 years, Ultimate Care II, Matmos sampled a washing machine, specifically the washing machine owned by the romantic couple that constitutes Matmos. They processed, sampled, sequenced, rubbed, drummed upon, and made 40 minutes of incredible music entirely from the machine, the namesake of the album. After becoming a critical success, Matmos figured why not bring the trusty Ultimate Care II (by Whirlpool®) on the road and recreate those sound experiments in front of a studio audience.

It sounds audacious, even dangerous, yet they pulled it off in spades. They brought the same catchy, gorgeous intensity they did on the album to the live set, even putting a volunteer’s shirt in the Ultimate Care II, which they promised would merely redistribute the dirt and result in a wet, dirty piece of laundry.

Set to an inspiring and humorous washing machine-centric visual accompaniment, Matmos got a couple people in Seattle’s experimental/noise crowd to actually dance to 40 minutes of laundry music. I’m convinced that that was a once-in-a-lifetime performance in this city, and I’m extremely happy I got to be a part of it.

Band’s performance: 10/10

Personal experience: 8.75/10

Avg score: 9.4/10

4. PUP (The Vera Project, June 2016)

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(Photo credit: Jessica Flynn)

I got into Canadian pop-punk group PUP a few months after they dropped their 2014 self-titled debut, an album that hooked me immediately with its off-kilter guitar work, self-deprecating lyrics, and ultra-catchy hooks. If there’s anyone in rock music embodying the spirit of Jeff Rosenstock besides the man himself, it’s PUP, and seeing them live for the first time proved that more than anything could.

There was not a dull moment during the band’s set, and seeing them perform at The Vera Project was one of the most life-affirming crowd experiences of the year for me. I don’t think I’ve seen Vera go harder for a band, before or since, and that’s because PUP writes anthems. Even their most depressing songs go fucking hard, and they ran through all the hits and deep cuts from their debut and their even-better new album, The Dream Is Over.

Go support this band in any way you can, because their music is a hell of a lot of fun and they’re a hell of a lot of fun to see live. As if that wasn’t good enough on its own, they had to steal my heart by encoring with objectively the most fun Weezer song, “El Scorcho.” I don’t think PUP knew that Pinkerton is one of my favorite albums, they just wanted to have some fun with a song that always keeps the party going.

Band’s performance: 9.5/10

Personal experience: 9.5/10

Avg score: 9.5/10

3. Swans (Showbox, September 2016)

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(Photo credit: Jens Wassmuth)

Since the beginning of the group’s career, Swans have held notoriously loud live concerts. In its most recent iteration, the band has taken the volume of its ‘80s concerts and fused it with the meditative transcendence of its mid-90s post-rock era, both on record and on the stage. In celebration what could very well be Swans’ final album, which was marred by some unfortunate press on behalf of vocalist and bandleader Michael Gira, the group embarked on a victory lap of a tour.

This was my second time seeing the band perform, and it was just as hypnotic, visceral, and loud this time around as it was back in spring 2013. They kicked things off with a 40-minute unreleased song, which seems to be called “The Knot,” before breaking into a handful of epic, winding songs from their two most recent albums, The Glowing Man and To Be Kind.

A Swans live concert is either something you crave or something you don’t understand. To put things in perspective, Swans stretched out six or seven songs into a 160-minute set. I rather enjoy seeing Michael Gira direct his band of merry noisemakers in creating the loudest wall of sound possible, and that’s exactly the sort of chaos Swans wrought that fine late summer’s eve.

Band’s performance: 10/10

Personal experience: 9.25/10

Avg score: 9.6/10

2. clipping. (Neumos, August 2016)

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(Source: KEXP/NPR)

2016 has been an incredible year for Daveed Diggs, the underground rapper who won some real-ass awards with his acclaimed dual performance in the universally successful “Hamilton” musical. After parting ways with the musical, he’s dropped two projects with his main squeeze, noise-rap trio clipping., who celebrated their big return with a one-off gig at Seattle’s beloved Neumos.

Tickets to the event were cheap, it was changed to an all-ages gig, and clipping. totally came through with a hell of a concert. Production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson dropped their creatively produced beats with considerable aplomb, blasting the audience with harsh noise as Diggs delivered his rapid-fire raps without missing a beat.

The group played a healthy dose of material from their debut mixtape Midcity, Sub Pop debut CLPPNG, and freshly released Wriggle EP. They even debuted tracks from their not-yet-released sophomore album, Splendor & Misery. It was virtually everything I could want from a clipping. concert, and I hope to catch them again in a couple months at The Crocodile.

Band’s performance: 9.5/10

Personal experience: 10/10

Avg score: 9.75/10

1. Ty Segall (Neptune Theater, January 2016)

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(Photo credit: Chip Luman)

The first concert I attended this year was the one for which I probably held the lowest expectations. Not that I expected a Ty Segall concert to be bad, per se, it’s just that I had never quite connected with his music the way a lot of people do. But, it was free, so why not? Plus, it turns out the show included a front-to-back performance of his surprisingly fantastic new album, Emotional Mugger, which is probably the most batshit of any album Segall has ever released.

Let’s just say Ty Segall exceeded my expectations exponentially. Within seconds of kicking off the first song of the evening, he pointed his finger right in my face, making uncomfortably prolonged eye contact with yours truly. It felt like I was being chosen, or maybe Ty Segall sensed somehow that I was not yet a bleeding heart believer in his music. If that was the case, he turned that shit around immediately.

With a band that included King Tuff, Mikal Cronin, and Emmett Kelly (The Cairo Gang), Segall played the “crazed, unpredictable frontman” role very well, spitting at the audience and himself, wearing a terrifying baby mask, and making similarly awkward eye contact with other people in the crowd. Even as fans knocked down his mic stand, almost as a childish taunt, he played along like a pro.

This is my favorite live act of the year not just for the shock of enjoying a Ty Segall concert (and album), but also for the originality and humor in all of it. While groups like Animal Collective and Of Montreal take the visual and conceptual game to sometimes garish levels, Ty Segall managed to take a stripped-back approach to that same sense of weirdo-humor with a more successful result.

It sucks that there will probably never be a tour like Ty Segall’s Emotional Mugger tour again, because nothing will beat the euphoric surprise of being challenged by the man himself to try and have a bad time at this concert, only to fail. I had an amazing time at this concert, and Ty Segall and his band of Emotional Muggers were 100% of the reason why that was the case.

Band’s performance: 10/10

Personal experience: 10/10

Avg score: 10/10

Honorable mentions: Danny Brown, Everything Everything, Melt-Banana, SOPHIE, Sleep, Modern Baseball, Joyce Manor, Aesop RockVince Staples

Jakob Ross is Rainy Dawg’s 2016-2017 Music Director. Follow him on Twitter @jakobsross for rambling thoughts on music, politics, and random bullshit! 

10 Albums You May Have Missed in 2015 (part 2)

(continued from part 1)

6. Viet CongViet Cong (released January 20th)

These days, one rarely encounters a “post punk” band in the purest sense, although you can barely throw a stone without hitting an indie band influenced by the genre (and hey, I ain’t complaining). The original post-punk movement peaked somewhere around the late 70s-to-early 80s and was reflected in pioneering bands like Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Bauhaus. Later, it evolved into bands like The Cure, Fugazi, and Sonic Youth, all of them immensely influential for the later emergence of indie rock. While post-punk enjoyed a brief revival in the 2000s through bands like Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (AKA the music that got me into music), the indie scene as a whole seems to have trended away from harsher sounds over the last decade, although the distant post-punk influences are still present.

All of this is to say that when I first heard Viet Cong’s noisey, impenetrable self-titled record, I didn’t really know what to make of it. Here’s a band that doesn’t care a whit about catchy hooks or song flow; instead, they layer distant, Joy-Division-esque vocal harmonies over driving drum beats and then ride the dark wave. “Continental Shelf” is probably their most melodic offering, and as a result probably the most memorable individual song, but this album is really more meant to be experienced as a whole. (Warning: video slightly NSFW)

Viet Cong draws directly from post-punk in its original form, but never feels like a full-on tribute either, since they layer in more sonic complexity than bands like Bauhaus ever did.

After giving it a few listens, Viet Cong has become one of my favorite albums of the year, if nothing else because it’s so unlike anything I’ve heard in recent memory. The experience is certainly worth 37 minutes of your time.

Recommended Tracks: “Continental Shelf” ; “Bunker Buster” ; “Death”

7. BullyFeels Like (released June 23rd)

One thing that bothers me about modern indie rock music is it’s obsession with ironic detachment. Trust me, I love a good metaphor as much as the next guy, but sometimes it gets tiring to listen to songs that could mean literally anything. In this age of unprecedented music availability, I would argue that the bravest musicians aren’t those most willing to experiment, but instead the ones who aren’t afraid to say exactly what they mean (even if they themselves are unsure what that is). I don’t blame artists for preferring irony to sincerity; if someone criticizes the former, it’s easy to write the critic off as “not getting it,” but a criticism of the latter is in many ways a criticism of the artist as a person.

So it’s refreshing to see a band like Bully come down the pike. The Nashville quartet, led by guitarist/vocalist Alicia Bognanno, does an excellent job exploring unfiltered feelings without being overly gratuitous or overly guarded. Bully tackles topics ranging from an inability to let go of the past (“Milkman”) to losing track of one’s own identity (“Trying”), all backed by catchy, crunchy garage rock and delivered with a raw, punkish edge by Bognanno.

How can you not love a band with lyrics like “Invisible handcuffs locked on me / Been prayin’ for my period all week?” It’s so nonchalant, you almost forget that Bognanno is singing about something too socially taboo for most songwriters, especially female, to touch. Well, fuck that, man.

Feels Like is only the band’s first full album, so keep a close eye on them going forward. Being sincere is risky, but Bully does it anyway, and I love them for it.

Recommended Tracks: “Trying” ; “Milkman” ; “Too Tough” ; “Brainfreeze”

8. Title FightHyperview (released February 3rd)

I’ve been a big fan of Title Fight ever since a close friend offhandedly suggested 2012’s Floral Green to me; nowadays I would consider them one of my top 10 favorite bands. So you can probably imagine the level of hyped I was upon learning they’d be releasing a new album in 2015 called Hyperview. There are plenty of other post-hardcore acts out there, many of them excellent in their own right, but part of Title Fight’s appeal is their musical and lyrical complexity. The band’s sound has changed a lot over the years, moving from raw pop punk to a more nuanced, clean sound, but two things that have always remained constant are the pleasantly dischordant chord progressions and Jamie Rhoden’s gruff yelp.

Then I listened to lead single “Rose of Sharon”, and it became immediately clear that Title Fight had decided to make some major changes on the new record. The same basic chord structures are there, but the rough edge is mostly gone, instead replaced with dreamy shoegaze melodies and a smoother vocal style.

That’s not to say there’s no punk left in them; “Mrahc” showcases the best of both worlds, combining Rhoden’s newly melodic voice with the uptempo crunch that Title Fight fans have come to know and love. After the initial shock of the changes wears off, it becomes clear that Hyperview is an incredibly well-made and evolutionary record. These guys knew exactly what they were doing, and they’re going to make the music they want to hear whether you like it or not. Really, that’s the most punk thing they could have done.

This record is a must-listen for fans of post-hardcore in all its variations. If you’re not so much into the gruff stuff, give it a shot also, because it’ll surprise you.

Recommended Tracks: “Rose of Sharon” ; “Mrahc” ; “Murder Your Memory” ; “Trace Me Onto You” ; “Your Pain Is Mine Now”

9. The Mountain Goats Beat The Champ (released April 7th)

What else can even be said about the Mountain Goats at this point? Founder/singer John Darnielle is a true musical legend, and perhaps the best lyrical storyteller of our time. His lovable, nasally voice has made us laugh, cry, gasp, and stare blankly off into space many times over the course of the Mountain Goats’ 24 year, 15 album career, and Beat The Champ is yet another solid addition to the band’s lore.

This particular album seemed to fly a bit under the radar; I wasn’t even aware that the Mountain Goats were working on anything new until I happened to catch “Heel Turn 2” on a recent episode of “Welcome To Night Vale.” The song stands up on its own with beautiful instrumentation and evocative lyrics, but takes on even more meaning knowing that the whole album is about the private lives of professional wrestlers.

A “heel turn” is wrestler-speak for the moment when someone becomes the villain of a storyline. “Throw my better self overboard, / Shoot at him when he comes up for air” sings Darnielle, stepping into the shoes of a man who’s willing to do what it takes to survive, even if it means hurting others in the process and loathing oneself as a result. It’s a powerful thing, knowing you’re going to let everyone down, but Darnielle is a master of evoking powerful, complex emotions. He continues to do it deftly here.

Don’t sleep on this album, especially if you’re thinking “Wrestling? I won’t understand any of that.” It’s not about wrestlers. It’s about human nature. You’ll feel feelings, even if you don’t know exactly why. It’s what the Mountain Goats do best.

Recommended Tracks: “Heel Turn 2” ; “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” ; “Foreign Object” ; “The Ballad of Bull Ramos”

10. Jeff RosenstockWe Cool? (released March 3rd)

Jeff Rosenstock is downright prolific. As the former frontman of underrated ska-punk outfit The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, as well as the genre-defying Bomb The Music Industry!, the guy is a bonafide DIY legend by this point. Not only has the Long Island native toured tirelessly throughout his career – always all-ages shows, mind you – he’s also started and maintained the only donation-based record label in the world, called Quote Unquote Records. Seriously, all of the label’s music can be downloaded for free on Quote Unquote’s website.

Rosenstock exemplifies the concept of “punk” as school of thought more than a style of music. All of his bands have shared classically punk sensibilities – raucous vocals, frantic drums, political themes – but the music’s energy tends to be focused inward rather than outward, an expression of self-betterment rather than self-destruction. He’s also never been afraid to experiment, at times throwing in Anamanaguchi-esque synth melodies or an entire brass/woodwind section. The result is always refreshing, thought-provoking, and above all else, fun.

His latest effort, We Cool?, is as introverted as anything he’s ever done.
For example, “I’m Serious, I’m Sorry” is a literal apology letter to an old friend, describing an awful tragedy to which Rosenstock responded poorly to at the time. Sonically, the entire album tends more towards early-Weezer garage rock than punk, which is a seamless transition for Rosenstock and helps to lighten up some of the more serious moments. Still, some songs, if you listen carefully to the lyrics, will leave you with a thousand-yard stare by the end.

Of course, there are plenty of fun moments to go around as well, even if they’re rooted in unfortunate circumstance. “Nausea,” the album’s official single, is an uptempo romp with a hilarious music video, despite the subject matter: isolation as an escape from anxiety. Rosenstock’s music always seems to have this kind of bittersweet tone, as if he’s asking you “Hah, life sure is fucked up, ain’t it?” and you’re answering “Sure is, buddy!” If you’ve ever kicked yourself for a stupid decision, felt like a child in an adult’s body, or wondered why there are so many assholes in the world, We Cool? is here to tell you that you’re not alone.

Recommended Tracks: “Nausea” ; “I’m Serious, I’m Sorry” ; “You, In Weird Cities” ; “Beers Again Alone”


Dion Hubble is a second-year Ph.D. student in Molecular Engineering. He’s been doing this weird radio thing since 2011, starting with KANM Student Radio at Texas A&M University. You can catch his show, Bears Downloading, every Monday night from 8-10pm.


Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Positivity, Aspirin, and Pizza: A Review of Modern Baseball’s Show at Neumos

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Modern Baseball
bassist Ian Farmer had a shit-eating grin that just couldn’t be wiped off his face during their
entire set at Neumos, and I think that sums up fairly well how the night went. A mix of good vibes and melancholy music made for a fantastic evening.

This is the first show I’ve been to in a long time where I was completely blown
away by the openers. The first band, Tiny
Moving Parts
, kicked off the night with a bang, playing their blend of math
rock, emo, and post-hardcore. Their musicianship was phenomenal all around, but
drummer Billy Chevalier in particular had the crowd in awe. Jeff Rosenstock and his backing band
were next to take the stage. Their blend of old-school punk and new-school
pop-punk kept the energy rising, and they even threw an on-the-fly cover of
Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” into their set. The final opener, PUP, killed it (they killed my ear
drums too; they’re seriously the loudest band I’ve ever seen). They had some
good banter with the crowd as well, making jokes at the expense of Portland and
its seemingly endless gauntlet of vegan food joints.

By the time Modern Baseball took the stage, they crowd was
pumped. They kicked off their set with their mid-tempo jam “The Weekend”, a song
about fucking around on the weekends with your closest friends, and it set the
mood perfectly for the rest of the evening. The crowd sang along to every word
of “Re-Done” (my personal favorite song in their discography), and two songs off
their new EP, “The Thrash Particle” and “Revenge of the Nameless Ranger”, sounded
fantastic.

The boys from Philly played all of the fan favorites off their most recent full-length album, 2014’s You’re
Gonna Miss It All
, and closed out their set with an ass-kicking rendition
of their hit “Your Graduation”. The bassist and drummer from Jeff Rosenstock’s
band joined Modern Baseball for the tune so drummer Sean Huber could run around
the stage, crowd surf, and play frontman for a song. They returned for one
encore and played a cover of The Killers’
“Mr. Brightside”.

There was one moment in particular that stood out to me that
night. Near the end of Modern Baseball’s set, guitarist and vocalist Brendan
Lukens
sincerely thanked the crowd for coming to the show and brought up the
topic of their recently cancelled shows. The band chose to cancel some tour dates
in England and Australia this past summer so Lukens could focus on taking steps toward improving
his mental health, as he has dealt with a lifelong struggle with anxiety and
depression. For a brief but beautiful moment, the crowd erupted in support of
Lukens. Even though the lyrics of Modern Baseball songs often aren’t the
happiest, the concert had a very positive vibe, and this small part of the show
made that positivity personal.

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Catch Modern Baseball if they come to a city near you as they
make their way through Canada and the East Coast this winter. You can find a list of their upcoming tour dates here.

-RJ Morgan

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RJ Morgan