PHOTOS & WRITTEN BY: Aaron Scofield
Singer/songwriter Jake Ewald has had many sounds over the last decade. Emerging with loud guitars, turned up amps, and power chords with Philadelphia staple Modern Baseball in 2012, Ewald’s smart lyrics, melodies and talent continue following the band’s breakup with his new project Slaughter Beach, Dog.
Ewald ditched the band this spring for a solo acoustic tour across Midwest and Mideast states, skipping the big venues of Philadelphia to play an intimate set at Lancaster, PA’s The Kaleidoscope.
A diverse audience was in for a treat as the first opener Jesse Barki, a Lancaster native, opened up the night. The crowd quieted as he began the set with “Otherwise.” Fingerpicking melodies as he sang them, beautiful walkdowns, and honest lyrics captured the crowd, with Barki adding explanations of each song and honest conversations about social anxiety, moving away, and capturing youth. Though this was his only performance on the tour, Barki was a highlight of the night, I definitely hope to see him again soon.
As the second opener of the night, The Sidekicks’ front man Steve Ciolek brought banter and thoughtful acoustic versions of Sidekicks songs to a growing crowd. Sweeping into falsetto with delicate melodies, Ciolek’s punk roots shone through his performance, even taking audience suggestions. Highlights included “Elegy for Tim,” and “Peacock.”
For the final set, Ewald took the stage from behind the small merch table and asked the audience if they would rather be seated for the performance. The Slaughter Beach, Dog frontman began the set in front of a cross-legged audience, playing older songs from 2016’s Welcome, Motorcycle.jpg EP, and most recent album Birdie.
Lyricism is a large part of Ewald’s success, and did not disappoint, with childhood allegories, stories, and beautiful imagery in the songs played. The set opened with “Phoenix.”
“When we used to go to parties
You’d spend an hour before the mirror
And I’d drink your gin
And ask about your high school souvenirs
Tacked on the wall above the bed
An old Inkjet collage
But you were never much for talking
So I knelt to your mirage”
Ewald thanked the crowd for coming, thanked each opener, and told stories of his visit to the outlets earlier that day. He kept the crowd entranced with songs, some known and some unknown. Ciolek even sat on Ewald’s guitar amp for “Palmcorder Yajna” and added tight harmonies.
After taking two crowd requests, “Monsters” and “Your Cat,” Ewald finished the set with one of his best and most intimate performances, “Acolyte.” The guitar cutting away, and the crowd softly singing the final instrumental chorus made a magical moment for the whole room.
“I’d say you look tired
Sing, my secret choir
Soak my scrapes and sleep tight
Sing, my brave acolyte”
I got a chance to thank Ewald after the show and grab the setlist. This was an incredible show in such an intimate venue that each member of the audience definitely wouldn’t have missed out on.
- Good Part*
- Pretty Ok
- Gold and Green
- Fish Fry
- One Down*
- Friend Song
- Palmcorder Yajna+
- Your Cat
*tentative title, written on setlist
+cover of The Mountain Goats