Concert Preview: Andy Shauf at Black Cat DC 3/30


Andy Shauf. Pitch Perfect PR. By Colin Medley.

JJ Smith

Andy Shauf fans lurking around downtown D.C. can eagerly rejoice, as the Canadian musician is making his way to a stage near you. His U.S. leg of tour continues to the Black Cat stage in Washington, D.C. on March 30th. This upcoming week, this music venue located on 14th Street NW, prepares to host Shauf, whose music tells clever yet simple tales with a blend of refined pop and dark folk instrumentals.

The Toronto-based, Saskatchewan-raised musician shares songs that resemble short fiction, creating colorful characters and storylines with emotional depth that extends beyond surface-level. Shauf’s songwriting is unusually observational and makes for a captivating backdrop for his distinguishing voice, which enunciates his clever words into unconventional figures.

His latest album, Wilds, was a surprise-release. The music is lackadaisical and more leisurely than past projects. Described by Shauf as a collection of demos, Wilds is a rather minimalist album that still breaks storylines down to their rawest form and share stories of living with sadness, whether it be failed relationships, regrets of all shapes and sizes, and missed opportunities.

“Judy (Wilds)” is the album opener and this catchy tune tells the tale of two lovers, with a desperate desire to play the lotto every week. Judy picks the numbers, while the narrator picks the tickets up and fantasizes about winning, so he could buy more tickets to attempt winning the Thursday night lottery. Both get their hopes up however, and continue to play despite never winning.

While there are overlapping similarities, Wilds isn’t exactly a sequel to Shauf’s 2020 album, The Neon Skyline, in which he sets the scene of two familiar friends meeting for a beer. This plot then unfolds to depict the narrator going to his local bar, finding out his ex has returned to the town, and him waiting for her to appear at the scene, which she eventually does.

“Where Are You Judy?” is the second track off The Neon Skyline and details the narrator’s motivation to find and potentially reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, Judy. The narrator, who had just learned of Judy’s return to town in the previous opening track, is flooded with emotion and recounts the end of his relationship with Judy before she moved from their small town to a big city. The narrator is self-aware that he has not and never will be able to get over her, but he still remains hopeful that the two could try again.

Judy’s character in The Neon Skyline lingers as an extension of Andy Shauf’s songwriting in Wilds, in some cases providing a glimpse of Judy and the narrator’s relationship prior to their breakup and offering some context to unanswered questions posed by the plot of The Neon Skyline. While many of these songs on Wilds share connections with Shauf’s past projects, listeners don’t have to be familiar with these storylines to enjoy the music.

Shauf will be performing in DC at the Black Cat this upcoming week on March 30th and Helena Deland will open the show. Doors are at 7 pm and tickets are $25, honoring previously purchased tickets for the postponed September 11, 2021 show. The show is all ages and patrons must show proof of a physical or photographic completed COVID-19 vaccination card. Those with qualifying medical conditions and children under 12 are exempt from this policy, but must show a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours of the event. All patrons must show a valid photo identification that matches the patron’s vaccination card at the door. Masks are strongly encouraged and available for sale at the venue’s front desk.