Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
f Slaughter Beach, Dog had paid a lot of attention to the size, they may have been disappointed. But there's a lot to be said for looking beyond the numbers (there were about 1,100 in the house at a venue holding 3,500). And that was the case with the Philly-based band.
Slaughter Beach, Dog is not a band to easily pigeon hole. They rocked a chunk of the night, but they also offered a variety of other styles including ballads and an out-and-out country song.
Lead singer Jake Ewald is the compelling face of SBD. He's got a lot of timbre and power in his voice from start to finish. And he was engaging with the crowd in his own slightly quirky way. When you tell the crowd in introducing "Phoenix," "it's kind of weird playing music. A lot of times you don't know what you're doing, but it feels like we know what we're doing tonight," that's quirky.
At one point, he was solo acoustic - Ewald played "Intersection," a song from his old band, Modern Baseball - showing he was good on his own as well.
Of course, SBD is a band, not just Ewald. Guitarist Adam Meisterhans tossed about a bunch of good licks with his musical muscle throughout the 85 minutes. He was afforded the opportunity to show off his wares a number of times and made the most of it.
Slaughter Beach, Dog did know what it was doing from start to finish no matter how many showed up.
Nashville-based singer/songwriter Erin Rae did doubt duty tonight. Not only did she provide occasional backing vocals and harmonies to Slaughter Beach, Dog's set (she often seems to show up at Newport Folk Festival every summer doing just that), she also did about a half dozen songs of her own to open the show.
Musically, Rae would do fine at a smaller venue in town, but she easily put across her songs with a low-key style. In a way, the smaller crowd at the start worked to her advantage in connecting with the crowd.
The Michigan-based duo Bonny Joon were a bit of a conundrum. Musically, they were quite satisfying. It was just the two of them – Bill Lennox and Bobby Colombo – onstage. They filled the musical space quite well with their playing.
But Bonny Joon did not have a whole lot of personality up there. The music worked, but being colorless pretty much didn't cut it.