Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Slaughter Beach, Dog had Thalia Hall ‘Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling’

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Lily Shen/The Daily Northwestern
Slaughter Beach, Dog frontman Jake Ewald alternated between playful energy and endearing humility during his performances at Thalia Hall this Sunday.

Slaughter Beach, Dog frontman Jake Ewald exclaimed the group “sure as hell felt like a band” at its concert in Thalia Hall Sunday night.

The audience could obviously confirm Ewald’s feeling, which he expressed in a monologue about not always feeling like a legitimate musician and songwriter. On the Chicago stop of its “Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling” tour, Slaughter Beach, Dog sure as hell sounded like a band.

Before the five-member Philadelphia-based rock band took the stage, Thalia Hall welcomed two members of alternative trio Bonny Doon, Bill Lennox and Bobby Colombo. Their music was beautiful, filled with guitar riffs and intimate lyrics that prepped the crowd for Slaughter Beach, Dog — but their stage presence left something to be desired. Their low energy and limited crowd interaction did not get the audience excited, and I began to worry Slaughter Beach, Dog would be similarly lacking.

Thankfully, Ewald and his crew quelled my fears with their first song. They opened with “My Sister in Jesus Christ,” an upbeat tune from their newest album “Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling.” The whole crowd sang as Ewald and bassist Ian Farmer danced along and made faces at one another.

They followed with a rendition of “Strange Weather,” which highlighted pianist Logan Roth’s skills in a jazzy solo. The next songs, all fan favorites off their 2017 album “Birdie,” continued to feature long instrumental interludes — all of which showcased guitarist Adam Meisterhans as the instrumental star.

Though Meisterhans shone the most in technical talent, each band member played a part in crafting this masterful performance. Farmer, Roth and drummer Zack Robbins all played off each other’s energy during the instrumentals, making it feel as though the audience was lucky enough to get a glimpse into a breakthrough brainstorming session.

Ewald, musically and personality-wise, served as the perfect frontman. He switched between electric and acoustic guitars, with a brief stint on a harmonica and several intimate moments with just a microphone. In between songs, he joked with the audience and his bandmates, telling stories behind songs or expressing gratitude to be on the stage. In response to a fan’s call of, “I love you,” Ewald responded simply, “We love you, too. It’s a two-way street, man.” He then began to strum the first notes of fan favorite love song, “Acolyte.”

Songs like “Acolyte” and “Bad Beer” had the whole crowd shouting the lyrics. Slower, lesser known tunes like “I’m in Love” and “Do You Understand (What Has Happened to You)” felt more like the audience was hanging onto every word of Ewald’s lyrical sermons as he stood at an altar of beaming colored lights and improvised guitar riffs. The mix of these two vibes made for the perfect concert experience.

During “Are You There,” Ewald sang, “Is there anyone in the audience currently living in vain?” as he and the band slowly raised their hands, followed by many members of the crowd. It was a unifying and wonderful moment in the show.

But with their camaraderie, endearing humility and musical intuition, Slaughter Beach, Dog ensured that for at least an hour on Sunday night, no one at Thalia Hall was “living in vain.”

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