The question that was on everybody’s mind as the folk-rock quartet known as Foxwarren quietly took the stage was this: What has Andy Shauf done with his hair?
Andy Shauf is the beloved indie icon of the Canadian prairies. In many ways his is Canada’s version of John Craigie; a guitar slinging folk star whose live shows blend poetic folk tunes with humorous storytelling. Shauf is a little more… well, Canadian. And there he was at the Biltmore, along with a handful of Saskatchewan’s finest musicians, without his signature long hair.
After a steady stream of tunes plucked right from their album, Shauf opened the floor to questions while tuning his guitar. Mostly, fans in the intimate setting wanted to know about the lead singer, Shauf himself. Never one to bask in the spotlight, he spent the few minutes between songs wryly trying to convince fans to focus on his three bandmates.
Foxwarren gave their attentive audience a deliberately subdued performance, and in doing so, delivered an element of sophistication that blended perfectly with the sentimental appeal of their music. There wasn’t anything going on that wasn’t absolutely necessary.
Not that the crowd was likely to be fooled by any extraneous bells and whistles. This was a well-dressed crowd. Large floral patterns were prominent, but so were high heels, tunics and baggy, high waisted pants. They looked artsy and intellectual, just like Foxwarren.
Although the pace of the evening was a little subdued, Shauf and company saved the best for last. “Sunset Canyon” was probably my personal favourite song of the evening and I found myself singing along even though I’d never heard it before. They followed that up with “Fall Into a Dream”, a slightly more up tempo track that the band finished with a kind of trippy slow jam before flowing right into “Give it a Chance”.
For the encore, Shauf came back out solo and played a sweet new song he’d been working on. It was a perfect way to close the show. Because as spellbinding as Foxwarren are as a collective, Shauf is clearly the binding agent that holds the band together.
Even though the answer to the question on everyone’s mind was never revealed, it’s fair to say that fans got exactly what they came for.