Fresh off the release of his fifth studio album, The Neon Skyline, Canadian indie-folk artist Andy Shauf brought an intense intimacy to the Fonda Theatre this past week.
To kick things off for the night, Molly Sarlé took to the stage with just an angelic voice and an acoustic guitar, paired with a fantastic sense of humor for that between song banter. Sarlé played a modest set of about six songs and really connected with those who got there early enough to hear her open-hearted and honest performance.
Not too long after Sarlé exited the stage, Andy Shauf and his backing band assumed the position for what would be a relaxed night of some of the current best storytelling in today’s musicscape. Shauf opened the night up with the title track from his latest album, The Neon Skyline, and that extremely distinguishable voice was present as ever with the opening lyrics. The crowd bopped along and nodded their heads as Shauf’s band of six played the song as faithful to the album version as could be.
Next song up was Where Are You Judy, the second song from the aforementioned album. Now if you’ve listened to the album at least once, it’s instantly recognizable that Judy is a recurring character in the latest stories from this chapter in Shauf’s life. Shauf gets quite personal with the tales of Judy and it’s hard not to relate to having some type of Judy in your own personal life.
After this performance though, a trend had emerged quite quickly. All 34 minutes of Shauf’s The Neon Skyline were performed in chronological order from top to bottom. This is a trend that is slowly becoming more common, but in my opinion, needs to become more of the norm for those artists who consistently put out albums that are story-driven. It also goes to show the severe inclusion of filler that most artists include on albums these days to pump up stream numbers. Shauf impresses quite easily with the flow from one song to the next, in that the overall vibe is consistent through and through from track to track. Shauf sucks you in with that unique voice and subdued instrumentation, but you stay the whole way to see how the latest tales of his life have played out.
Once Shauf finished up the album in full, he spent no time waiting around and jumped right into the classics from his album, The Party. A rush of energy filled the crowd back up again as they were excited to hear the back catalog. The fans with more familiarity were singing right along and although Shauf doesn’t really have much banter with fans during sets, you could tell he was still extremely grateful to play for a crowd of fans old and new.
Once the main set ended, the crowd roared for an encore, and Shauf returned just by himself to take requests for one more song. After a handful of great requests were shouted out, one even being denied by Shauf, he decided on a closer and brought us all to an applause as he finished up one more time thanking the crowd for being there and then drifting off to backstage. If a relaxed night of catchy dive bar tunes was what you were in the market for, it’s exactly what got served up on this fine night.
By looking at Andy Shauf’s tour schedule, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to catch him either in the US, Canada, or Europe over the next four months as he gears up for a long tour of solo shows and festivals. Be sure to check out his upcoming dates by clicking here.
Words by Austin Sher
Photos by Sarah Woods