By Zoë West, Second Year Sociology
Perhaps lesser known than frontman Jake Ewald's first (now disbanded) project Modern Baseball, his second project Slaughter Beach, Dog explores a whole new pathway into the indie rock scene. Straying away from his roots in one of the most iconic bands of the midwestern-emo sphere, Ewald and the band have produced five studio albums, with their 2017 project Birdie being one of my personal all-time treasured albums. Certainly, no shoes have been left unfilled.
Soon upon arrival, one could only witness that the floor of SWX was looking out of its usual character. Usually covered in sticky-shoed clubgoers, the venue was instead filled with an unsurprising amount of meticulously styled Mullets and Rough Trade totes, all anticipating a night of enthralling acoustic melodies and harmonicas.
The brilliant Mo Troper lay the first stone (or song even) of the night, with his unique power-pop creations electrifying the stage. The Portland-based rocker also laid down one of the surprising themes of the night – gratitude. Both acts throughout their performances never failed to express their genuine gratitude towards the crowd, bringing an unspoken rapport between both parties and reminding me why live music is so special.
After meeting a few familiar faces in the caged smoking area of SWX during the break, the sting from of the ten-pound double I had paid for at the bar moments ago faded away. Slaughter Beach, Dog took to the stage, and with it the attention of us Carhartt-covered fans.
Although the performance focused on celebrating Slaughter Beach, Dog’s most recent album, Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling, the band managed to strike a perfect equilibrium between the fresher sounds and old favourites. Even with the newer material being less familiar, the five-piece did not disappoint.
An excited cheer erupted from the crowd as the first guitar strums of the band's most successful track ‘Acolyte’ rung out, a poetic love song about ‘Annie’, a recurring character within the band's broad discography. Nursing me through many emotional nights in my late teens, this song was undeniably my personal highlight of the performance. With the heartfelt profession of ‘Annie, I want you to marry me/ We’ll wait a few years/ I don’t mean to frighten you/ I just wanna be clear’’ within the first verse being one of my favourite odes of all time, it felt as if a hole in my heart I didn’t know would need filling on a rainy night in October, was in fact filled. In harmony, the crowd recited the rest of the story back to the band, with a beholden smile emerging on Ewald’s face (and some tears on mine).
Ewald didn’t fail to tap into the culture and humour of the British crowd he was performing to, jokingly relaying his experience at the local Wetherspoons – unsurprisingly earning an excited hosanna from the crowd.
After closing the night with an explosive rendition of ‘104 degrees’ , the crowd erupted into a thunderous encore chant, reeling the band back for another three ballads. They wrapped up the night with ‘At the Moonbase’, and what felt like a karaoke rendition of ‘Your Cat’, the crowd chanting along with one of the most anticipated tracks on the setlist.
Throughout the whole performance, I could only describe it as feeling like a hug – Ewald’s lyricism and vocal encapsulates you like you’re sitting with a familiar friend on an early morning, hearing tales of love and heartbreak. Overall, if you ever get the chance to catch the 5 piece, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to watch them at work: you’re bound to leave feeling warmer than you did walking in.
Featured Image: Jake Paterson
Have you listened to Slaughter Beach, Dog?