January 13th | Louisiana
Photos: Albert Testani
Slaughter Beach, Dog’s main appeal has always been their intimacy, with the songs penned by frontman, Jake Ewald often resembling everyday anecdotes put to music. As a result, it’s hard to think of a better place for them to play than The Louisiana and its cosy attic room stage. In a larger venue, it’s easy to imagine the band’s sound getting trampled under crowd conversations, but here it’s given room to blossom, the audience hanging on Ewald’s every word.
Supporting tonight are the fantastic Bristol-based Dogeyed. Though their sound is janglier than Slaughter Beach, Dog’s, the two have a lot in common. The band is similarly built around a powerful emotional core in the form of frontwoman Harriet Elder and her stunning lyrics. New single, ‘Waves’ in particular shines, with its muted sadness and slow washes of guitar reverb.
Shortly after Dogeyed’s set, Slaughter Beach, Dog arrive on stage with admirable quaintness, shifting through the crowd almost anonymously. No one seems to notice they’re there, or that they’ve been tuning their instruments for the past few minutes, until the stage lights illuminate them – the visual equivalent of a throat-clearing ‘ahem’. All eyes on them, the drummer counts the band into ‘Heart Attack’. The song is quintessential Slaughter Beach, Dog, built around Ewald’s shaggy chord strumming and characteristic talk-singing.
Tracks from last year’s Safe And Also No Fear make up most of the setlist tonight. Even though the album is still a pretty fresh release, the three band members surrounding Ewald play the songs from it with an enviable tightness. It gives the frontman room to be a little looser, only playing along with his guitar here and there early on in the set. Still, when he’s needed, he delivers; his gorgeously fingerpicked outro for ‘Black Oak’ is an easy highlight of the night.
Halfway through the set, Ewald swaps out his electric guitar for an acoustic one, contributing further to the cosy atmosphere of the show. It allows songs like ‘Map of the Stars’ and ‘Acolyte’ to sound even more intimate and fragile than their studio-recorded counterparts.
The band also do a good job of digging into their back catalogue, pulling out a good mix of fan favourites and deep cuts. The bright and folksy ‘Gold and Green’ leads to the night’s finest singalong moment. Due to the nature of Slaughter Beach, Dog’s music, the audience don’t really chant the song’s chorus and instead sing it in a mumbled and restrained tone. Again, it’s the sort of moment that wouldn’t occur anywhere else other than in a venue of The Louisiana’s size.
After thanking the audience for coming out, the band burst into their final song of the show, ‘104 Degrees’. Despite keeping things reserved for most of the night, they allow themselves to let loose on this one and indulge in a long, crushing outro. Each of the band members compete to drive as much noise out of their instruments as possible before leaving the stage. Following an hour of softly fingerpicked chords and personal lyrics, a gloriously abrasive moment of sonic catharsis ends up being the perfect way to cap things off.
See the video for ‘Heart Attack’ here: