February is the time of year where we throw caution to the wind and put our trust in an experienced furry meteorologist, ever hopeful that our very own Punxsutawney Phil will not see his shadow, and thus announce the arrival of an early spring. This month is often also the unofficial start of our concert-going adventures, and while Phil decided to subject us all to another six weeks of winter, we opted to ignore his prediction, and headed back down to the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains for that much-needed live music fix.
Having recently kicked off his 2022 “Wilds” tour here in the US northeast, SK-born and Toronto-based indie folk-rocker Andy Shauf paid a visit this past weekend to The Southern Café and Music Hall in Charlottesville, VA, and would delight the sold-out venue with a fabulous sonic journey across his entire music back catalog. We reluctantly missed an opportunity to see Andy perform at a Hamilton, ON festival back in 2017 (touring to promote his stunning 2016 “The Party” album), and knew that we were not going to let lightning strike twice here. Released last September, “Wilds” is Andy’s latest album, which not only follows his popular “The Neon Skyline” album from the previous year, but can be easily interpreted as a natural successor to that album – revisiting his fictional doomed lovers once more throughout various stages of their relationship.
Accompanying Andy on this portion of the US tour is Montreal, QC psych-pop artist Yves Jarvis, who used his 35-minute opening slot to share a broad selection of tunes from his equally impressive back catalog. This was the first performance in Charlottesville for Jean Sebastian Audet, who endeared himself to the room very quickly with his dreamy, multi-layered and progressive folk tunes. We featured his latest (and incredibly short) music video for “Prism Through Which I Perceive” earlier this month, and as Audet stood center-stage with just his acoustic guitar and some sampling effects to hand, we enjoyed witnessing him bring this track to life. Yves Jarvis shared popular cuts “For Props” and “Semula,” and added a pair of unreleased tracks set to appear on his next album, which he hinted at releasing this coming May. Performing a handful of lines from a Judee Sill composition, before transitioning immediately into “To Say That Is Easy,” was also a very nice touch and earned the applause from this appreciative room.
Yves Jarvis Set List:
- For Props
- Prism Through Which I Perceive
- Constant Change
- ***Unknown Title***
- Hard To Say Bye
- In Every Mountain
- Boot Strap Jubilee (Unreleased Track)
- Down Where The Valleys Are Low (Judee Sill cover)
- To Say That Is Easy
- At The Whims (sic) (Unreleased Track)
Following a brief intermission, the crowd welcomed Andy Shauf to the stage, joined by the ensemble of Phil Melanson (drums), Josh Daignault (bass), Chris Bezant (electric guitar), Dan Pencer (saxophone/clarinet), and Colin Nealis (keys/synth) – and once settled, we were rewarded with three straight pieces from “The Neon Skyline” album, opening with the title track, and progressing through “Clove Cigarette” and “Where Are You Judy” respectively. Having toured extensively together, the band were tight, and clearly familiar with Andy’s music – leaving the singer-songwriter himself as the catalyst for merriment when misplacing one of his own lines during the third number. “Does anyone know what we have here,” he joked, looking over at Colin, who shot him a bemused look. Andy elicited further laughter when adding, “We’ll know soon,” and without skipping a beat, the band jumped straight back into the song and performed flawlessly from that moment onward.
With his quiet demeanor, Andy is not known as a performer who converses with the crowd too often, but would address the room following a well-received rendition of “Thirteen Hours,” and unwittingly dug himself into a humorous hole in the process. “Does anyone have any questions out there,” he would ask, soliciting many muffled responses from all corners of the room, before catching the eye of somebody up front who asked if the band were the folks that played on his records. “No, I did. No, I just did it,” he responded, adding, “Sorry, I made it weird.” Encouraged to continue by the crowd, he would add: “Okay, sorry, I’m not used to talking to people.” Accepting the applause and good-natured laughter, Andy was naturally happy to very quickly usher in the next song and return to his personal comfort zone once more.
Progressing into the latest material, four of the nine tracks from “Wilds” were shared on this particular evening, including the recent singles “Jaywalker” and “Spanish On The Beach.” And for those of us craving music from “The Party,” Andy did not disappoint, mixing five popular album tracks into the set list, including “The Magician” and “Alexander All Alone.” We appreciated hearing “Begin Again” from the same album, closed out with a lengthy jazz-inspired drum solo from Phil as Andy retuned his guitar in preparation for the next tune, before the band collectively shifted seamlessly into “Living Room” – an effort so smooth, it was amply rewarded with enthusiastic applause from the floor.
Shauf continued to balance the material well throughout the evening, weaving freely between albums, and adding a pair of standalone single releases in for good measure too. He found his confidence to address the crowd once more following the close of “Living Room.” “Sorry to the person that asked the question,” he declared. “I feel like I made them feel bad. I didn’t mean to. It’s a lot more awkward than anything. Sorry. Sorry.” Whoops and hollers were offered in return, and even a cry of “We love you Andy” emanated from the back of the hall. “Hey, nobody ask any more questions,” Andy responded, a smile on his face, before returning to the predetermined set list and launching in to “Quite Like You.”
Approaching close to an hour of stage time, Andy knew it was time to inform the room that the band would perform one last track, and after hearing a natural chorus of sighs from those before him, he nodded to the set list taped to the stage floor, stating that it was what ‘it’ told him, before closing the show with one of those standalone singles, the recently released “Satan.” Taking their leave, the room applauded non-stop to entice the band back onto the stage for more, which they of course honored. Strapping their instruments back on, and letting the crowd noise die down, Andy stated that they’d play one more song, the crowd counter-offering for two more. “We’ll play one more. This one’s kinda like two,” Andy announced, before closing with one final apology. “Once again, very sorry to that person. This song is very long, so you guys will be ready to go after this.”
True to their word, Andy and the band dug deep into his back catalog, and pulled out an outstanding performance of “Wendell Walker,” the 8-minute dark tale of adultery and betrayal – and a not-for-the-squeamish outro – taken from the 2015 “The Bearer Of Bad News” album. What a stunning way to close this pretty perfect evening of music. The “Wilds” tour finds Andy visiting many towns and cities across North America, pausing for a couple of weeks in early April, and then continuing with an extensive string of dates over in Europe. I don’t want to hear any excuses – if he happens to be playing in a town near you, miss this show at your own peril.
- Neon Skyline
- Clove Cigarette
- Where Are You Judy
- Spanish On The Beach
- Jenny Come Home
- Judy (Wilds)
- Thirteen Hours
- Begin Again
- Living Room
- Quite Like You
- Television Blue
- Alexander All Alone
- To You
- The Magician
- Wendell Walker