​Andy Shauf Main Stage, Guelph ON, July 22

​Andy Shauf Main Stage, Guelph ON, July 22
Photo: Tiana Feng
Fresh off a spot on this year's Polaris Music Prize shortlist for The Party, Andy Shauf brought his sad pop songs from Saskatchewan to the people of Guelph with a dinner time show on Friday (July 23) — though he showed plenty of love for the locals too, taking part in a "519" workshop prior to his own set.
The songsmith looked diminutive walking out onto the huge stage, but easily filled the evening air with his lush, folk-tinged tunes that somehow manage to sound bubbly and morose at the same time. Shauf backed up his own unmistakable melancholic drawl with an acoustic guitar, and was joined by a three-piece band who helped deliver more sparsely arranged renditions of tracks from his aforementioned latest record. Despite the lack of strings, the straightforward, stripped down arrangements suited the laid-back festival atmosphere rather nicely.
Opening with a run of "Alexander All Alone," "The Worst in You" and "Early to the Party," he picked up the pep a bit on "Quite Like You" — though he had onlookers back on the edge of party-induced anxiety when he followed it up with "Twist Your Ankle," blending deceivingly cheerful "do-doot-do-dos" with lines like: "Everybody's laughing at me, I wish I'd just stayed home."
Shauf's ode to the slow, suicidal nature of cigarette smoking, "Hometown Hero," was a bit wasted on a jam session at the earlier workshop but he did pull out a couple cuts from The Bearer of Bad News for the main stage audience. These included "Jerry Was a Clerk" and a particularly poignant version of "Wendell Walker" that heard Shauf start off solo — his crystalline falsetto breezing over the crowd and into the sweltering setting sun, before his bandmates eventually chimed in to fill it out.
They closed out the delightful, if a bit reserved, set with The Party highlight "The Magician," sending Hillsiders off into their own night of revelry.