Missing It All: 10 Years of Modern Baseball’s You’re Gonna Miss it All

By Oonagh Ryan

February 11th, 2014. I’m going on eleven, probably sporting an Old Navy t-shirt and preparing for my multiplication quiz. Altogether enjoying my relatively peaceful childhood in the Philadelphia suburbs. Mere miles away, Modern Baseball is releasing their seminal sophomore record, You’re Gonna Miss it All. Maybe they’re sharing celebratory drinks or playing a release show at The Michael Jordan House or Moonbase Nix. They’d quickly graduated from being the faces of the Philly DIY scene to being beloved by angry teens across the nation. Years later, this moment and this album came to mean more than ten-year-old Oonagh could possibly fathom. I may have missed the moment but I didn’t miss it all.

I first stumbled onto Modern Baseball my freshman year of high school when the music video for “Your Graduation” found itself on my youtube recommended page. Something clicked. Maybe it was front-person Bren Luken’s dead stare into the camera, maybe it was some hometown allegiance to the Philly-natives, but it was probably the fact that the track just kicks ass. I was just a casual Mobo fan until I turned sixteen, got my license, and realized You’re Gonna Miss It All is the greatest album to drive over the speed limit to. Sixteen was also a pretty dark time for me. Many a night I opted for screaming along with Bren and Jake while racing through neighborhoods in my mom’s 2012 Mazda CX-9 instead of spending another lonely night in my room. This caused only a single accident which, given my propensity for fast driving paired with the fact that I’m terrible at it, is a bit of a miracle. It wasn’t even a cool accident I could garner some pity or cred from; I drove into a curb and smashed a headlight. Sorry mom! 

I would guess that I was among 99% of Modern Baseball’s listenership of teenagers who definitely should’ve been put on SSRIs a lot earlier than they were. But, by the time I was one of those teenagers and a diehard fan, the hiatus was already in place. My general teenage angst that Mobo so appealed to was heightened by the anger of missing it all. In a “you just haaaad to be there” fanbase, it crushed me that I was so fucking close to being there. I resented the fact that had I been a few years older, I could’ve caught them at one of the Philly shows me and my friends went to to pretend we weren’t from the suburbs. I could’ve been one of those assholes who bragged in homeroom about seeing this great band in the city last night. Let’s be honest, I was one of those assholes, but I could’ve been talking about Modern Fucking Baseball! 

I felt this obsessive need to catch up. I inhaled every detail I could find about the historic 2010s Philly scene so that I might earn my place in the conversation without being one of those guys who annually asks Reddit if they think Mobo will get back together. I hate to admit I still troll Bren’s old Tumblr page from time to time. I think my obsession stemmed from a need to make my own shit mean something in some way. If my teenage problems meant that I could be a part of, even tenuously, an incredibly important moment in the musical culture of a city I loved so much, maybe it was worth it. 

There is something new about hearing those songs about the inane problems of 21-year-old college students, now being one myself, instead of a deeply single and depressed sixteen-year-old who pretended the songs about love lost meant anything to me. I definitely had the feeling bad for myself down, but experiencing a few more years has introduced me to the love, heartbreak, hope, and desperation that threads through You’re Gonna Miss it All. I feel I now understand the frustration of “Fine, Great,” the heartbreaking regret of “Broken Cash Machine,” and the burnout of “Two Good Things.” I’ve chopped off my long, dark hair, and skipped class to brainstorm tattoos. I’m still hoping for a cute girl to sit next to me on the couch (dude nice!) but I’m sure I’ll get there. Being twenty is as exhausting as YGMIA is dense. It perfectly captures being awkwardly trapped in the teenage angst while also trying so hard to grow. Its immature lyrics detailing silly crushes and overblown heartbreaks paired with Mobo’s incredibly mature musicianship capture that intensely liminal space of being twenty.

I started this piece then thought I’d surf around some similar happy birthday posts and they all seem to start like mine does. They position their own situation to that of Modern Baseball’s in 2014. But everyone was a fellow Drexel student or a friend of a friend of the band. I was about seven years too late and two miles too far. That’s not to say Philly ceased being a hub of awesome DIY, but mostly everyone would agree that that early 2010s scene was unmatched. I often wonder if my teenage experience would’ve been different if I was going to basement shows instead of lame parties where the only Philly love blaring from tiny JBLs came in the form of “Dreams and Nightmares” (no hate to Meek Mill, but you can only hear that song so many times). 

But there is a kind of kinship between younger Modern Baseball etc. fans who feel that similar sense of missing it all. Whose Mobo hats or tees were bought online instead of at a show. Who historicize today’s emo/DIY scene in contrast to that of last decade’s. People whose favorite band’s favorite band was a part of that scene they just barely missed. Even then, the bands from that era who are still together can only be caught at thousand-person venues instead of dingy basements. I love debating favorite albums and watching shaky footage from iPhone 4s of concerts I could’ve gone to. But despite this kind of camaraderie, there remains this aching for a personal timeline that could’ve been. Of being Cool Girl that got beat up in mosh pits instead of beating myself up about a stupid thing I said in some dude’s Toyota Corolla. 

Philly will always be my home and its music will always be my crutch. Despite this essay of lamenting, I am beyond grateful that I didn’t actually miss it all. I got to scream to albums like You’re Gonna Miss It All, instead of mindlessly wallowing in my trivial teenage issues. I learned to take my anger out on my steering wheel while driving through the city that made this music possible. Though I feel I’ve outgrown my adolescent angst, Modern Baseball, and particularly this album, will always hold just the most special place in my heart. Happy birthday YGMIA. Double digits!

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