Slaughter Beach, Dog is Jake Ewald at his most tender and intimate

The grungy, smoke-filled bandroom of Yah Yah’s is the last place you’d expect to find a comforting and emotional acoustic show. But, defying the odds, Jake Ewald, lead singer of emo powerhouse Modern Baseball, brought his sombre solo act to a room packed full of eager fans.

Starting the set off with ‘Phoenix’, a song from his most recent album Birdie, from the get-go Ewald was a down-to-earth and humorous character. This character shines through his blunt lyricism, which at times, made it seem like Ewald was having a private conversation with the audience, delving into his deepest, darkest secrets and his day’s events. Songs like ‘Jobs’ and ‘Sleepwalking’ particularly heightened this feeling as his emo songwriting ability came out in spades.
What was special about Ewald’s performance was the pairing of this mastery of creating emotional lyrics with the lovely barebones sound of his guitar – this was complemented excellently by a warm harmonica. Without a fault, his detailed lyrics presenting multiple relatable vignettes were sung through his gorgeous, almost speech-like vocals. Songs like ‘Shapes I Know’ followed a complex structure of folk music, which matched surprisingly well with the heartbreaking and gloomy lyrics it was played under. Conversely, ‘Bad Beer’ made audience members dance and tap their feet to a more uptempo tune.
Despite this rare moment, for most of Ewald’s set, the audience was absolutely silent, standing dead still, clasping their drink in awe. It was hard not to be drawn into the music, the intimacy of the venue meaning there was barely any room between fan and performer. The lack of distance didn’t seem to faze fans as they sang back lyrics to every song with full force and gusto.
Ending on Neil Young’s ‘Thrasher’ and an original, ‘Acolyte’, the audience reluctantly filed out of the bandroom. Ewald’s set was an exceptional thing to experience from start to finish as heartstrings were pleasantly tugged on.
Highlight: Ewald vowing to create a gofundme page to solve Australia’s internet problem.
Lowlight: Fans pressuring Jake into doing a shoey.
Crowd favourite: ‘Fish Fry’.