There’s something to be said about small, cozy concerts in a crowded venue; where the easy-going tone of the coming show is set by the star casually walking in and out of the venue. With a fear of an oncoming typhoon hovering in the air, a long line-up of people outside of the Fox Cabaret wait to be let in. They’re all bundled up in rain jackets, boots, sweaters, and scarves, braving the looming storm for the solace of Canadian artist Andy Shauf’s sold-out show.
The atmosphere (quite literally) changes the moment you enter the warmth of the Fox Cabaret, checking your numerous fall-ready layers at coat check, and settling down, drink in hand, waiting for the show to begin. There are just about enough people there to fill the floor when the opener, Scattered Clouds, fills the room with dark, heavy bass, slick synths, and plenty of reverb. The band reflects the overhanging storm, hypnotizing the audience with ominous rhythms and recitative lyrics.
After a strong set by the trio, the crowd is handed over to the main act of the evening. Shauf takes the stage with an almost meek demeanour, immediately launching into a laid-back rendition of “Alexander All Alone” with his four-piece band, and the noise of the crowd is reduced to a background clamour. There is a palpable connection between Shauf and his band. Shauf and his drummer don’t go a full song without maintaining concentrated eye contact with each other, keeping a steady beat throughout.
The intimacy of the venue is matched by the band, from the very beginning of the set to the end — “The Magician,” followed by an encore performance of “Wendell Walker.” Shauf’s unique and pleasantly soft voice, the pianist’s strong harmonies, easy-rolling basslines, and an ever-steady beat from the drummer melded into what was a lovely show.
Shauf and his band made it easy for the audience to forget that the city outside wasn’t actually a warm and hazy Friday evening.