Slaughter Beach, Dog cultivated a mellow, yet mesmerizing atmosphere at Nashville’s The Basement East this Saturday. Frontman Jake Ewald invited the audience into the Slaughter Beach, Dog experience with open arms, illustrating his warmth both as a person and musician. The band began as Jake’s solo project following the hiatus of the emo band Modern Baseball in 2014. The bassist, Ian Farmer, also followed this Mobo-to-Slobo path. Ian acts as the glue: his playing is simple as he fills and refines the space. He is an asset to the band’s folk-rock sound. Since forming, the band has released five full-length LPs, each with a unique sound. Their newest album, “Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling,” showcases a light, summery vibe.
Erin Rae, who also opened the show, offered some beautiful background vocals on many songs that I felt would have been incomplete without her. Her soprano harmonies on the two opening songs, Bobcat Club and Strange Weather, proved to be the perfect complement for Jake’s main vocal. She also completed the vocal performance in Are You There? from the fourth LP, “At The Moonbase.” It is a track for the hopeless romantics and the folks who appreciate assonance as a literary device. The most anticipated song was Black Oak, from the band’s third album, “Safe And Also No Fear,” and they did not disappoint. The guitar solo on this song specifically gave it an unexpected breath of fresh air, with Nashville native Adam Meisterhans delivering erratic, yet intentional playing. Adam carried this style throughout the set, but it also shined in Engine, another track from the band’s latest release. Engine stands out as the longest Slaughter Beach, Dog song at just under nine minutes.
The last few minutes of the song are purely instrumental, where Zack Robbins on synth transported us to a whole new environment. The energy seemed to grow, both in this song and throughout the night, like a calculated swell. The last song of the set, 104°, is a crowd pleaser to be sure. Jake’s famous spoken-word delivery had everyone screaming along with him. He is equal parts poet and musician. He builds worlds with his writing, which is half of the appeal. The other half is the band’s nostalgic sound that somehow also always sounds new. Together this band weaves a lovely web of sound and honest words that has captivated many hearts, including mine. Simply put, this show felt like home.
- Hales Hughes
Photos Courtesy of Rachel Mitchell (For Bell Music Magazine)