Indie band Slaughter Beach, Dog rocks Gabe’s

On Nov. 17, indie band Slaughter Beach, Dog headlined at Gabe’s. Their most recent release, ‘At the Moonbase,’ is a folksy and ethereal album, sweetened by echoey piano and sincere vocals.


Lilly Stence

Adam Meisterhans plays a guitar at a show at Gabe’s in Iowa City on Nov. 17, 2022.

Charlotte McManus, Arts Reporter

Slaughter Beach, Dog, an indie-rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have amassed millions of fans with their sincere tone and echoey, delicate guitar. When Gabe’s filled with concertgoers Thursday night, it seemed like most of them were already fans.

The upstairs venue — a dark room with a short stage and concrete floor — was crowded fifteen minutes before the show. By 8 p.m., the place was packed, buzzing with a total hum of excitement that precedes any concert. 

“I’m just excited to be at the show, and happy to see live music,” said Kate Hudak, a second-year art major at the University of Iowa. 

Kory Kelley, a second-year art major at the UI, said they were excited for a more specific reason. 

“I’m really excited to see the harmonica around their neck. I haven’t seen someone play one of those since I was ten, and they’re the best thing ever,” Kelley said.

Slaughter Beach, Dog, had two openers. The first, 24thankyou, surprised the crowd with a slow, echoey song that turned into a rocking welcome. They also had a t-shirt contest, and the winner got a unicorn Pillow Pet. 

The second opener, Danny Wiggins, took the stage with a more folksy approach. His songs were introspective and entirely acoustic, and the room quieted for the second half of his set, but cheered when he picked up his harmonica holder. 

Then, Slaughter Beach, Dog finally took the stage. Their first song, “Are You There” from their latest album “At the Moonbase,” addressed the audience directly. The lead singer, Jake Ewald, raised his hand to the rafters as the instrumental cut out, singing, “Is there anyone in the audience currently living in vain?” 

For his first anecdote, the singer said he had a “fond memory” of his friend vomiting in the alley behind Gabe’s after a long night out. “Iowa City, man!” he said, and the crowd cheered in response. 

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Last night’s crowd was particularly enthusiastic, evidence of Slaughter Beach, Dog’s cult following. For their most popular songs — including bops like “Your Cat” and “104 Degrees” and tearjerkers like “Acolyte” and “Gold and Green”— nearly the whole crowd was singing over the speakers. Even for lesser-known tracks the audience bounced and swayed. Plenty of dedicated fans still sang the chorus. 

The band also played some newer songs, like “At the Moonbase,” and “Jonathan,” which combine the contemplation of their most popular album, “Birdie,” with the beat of their most energetic EP, “Motorcycle.jpg.”  

For their last two songs, the players jumped and bounded with their guitars in hand. Together, Ewald and the audience said the last verse of “104 Degrees,” a song about a new couple running away from the rambling life and finally settling down. 

As the guitar finally crescendoed, he let the microphone fall.