by Taylor Muñoz
It doesn’t rain too often in Southern California—but it did on the night that I saw Andy Shauf in mid-March at The Regent in LA. However, it was incredibly fitting for a night of being serenaded by a stylish yet timid Canadian man who sings of the all-too-real circumstances of unrequited love and feeling out of place.
Being a college student inevitably leads one to feel alienated, unsure of one’s self, or even like a wallflower. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I’ve never felt like this. Shauf’s 2016 record The Party perfectly illustrates this feeling. In songs like “Martha Sways,” Shauf sings of a party dwindling down after a night spent feeling like a wallflower, watching everyone else having fun. I was able to step into Shauf’s world that night at The Regent, and his words resonated so deeply within me.
Wearing a blue button-down and retro Nikes, Shauf dove directly into the music. Attached to his acoustic guitar the whole set, his backup band accompanied him: bass, drums, and the most fascinating part of it all: his trumpet players dressed in black from head to toe. A vital element of The Party is trumpets, especially on tracks like “To You.” These instrumentalists stole the heart of the crowd: sometimes simply softly accompanying Shauf’s delicate voice, other times triumphantly blaring.
The show was all business—song after song, until Shauf took a 10-minute break simply to open up questions to the crowd. It was in this moment that I realized something about Shauf’s shyness seems to be a prominent part of not only his personality, but his music. His mannerisms, a little awkward. His demeanor a little withdrawn. These, I felt, perfectly captured what feelings he aimed to portray on The Party. Shauf is a reserved person in general—making it one of the biggest themes of the record.
Watching songs I had listened to dozens of times before being played live put two and two together for me. I felt as if I understood Shauf a little more after my night spent in his presence. During “To You,” a heart-aching song about coming clean to a friend about the blurred line between friendship and wanting something more, I found myself becoming emotional. I see myself in a lot of Shauf’s songs and interactions, and felt extremely connected to him his entire set.
In one way or another, I believe that we are all Andy Shauf. Young adult life wouldn’t be what it is without uncertainty, heartbreak, or feeling insignificant. This isn’t to say that all of Shauf’s music is about deep, internalized sadness. It’s about feeling insecure but still showing up to that party anyways. Not wanting to ruin a friendship, but mustering up the courage to tell that person that you want to be with them anyways. Or, in my case, showing up to a show in Downtown LA wearing sandals while it’s pouring rain. I didn’t really think that would happen, but I did it anyways. I was still happy I did it.