You can see the glow of yellow light and the shadows of passing figures through the windows. You leap up a few steps and pull open the front door to be greeted by a rap song from Spotify’s Top 50 hits playing over someone’s parents’ speakers and, subsequently, you inhale an odd fog of beer, body odor and half-assed Febreze.
It’s a party. Whether you associate these functions with searching for corners to huddle in, casually watching the door for that one person to finally enter or mindlessly moving your limbs to objectively bad music, we have all experienced some degree of the ecstatic frenzy and painful self-awareness of being at a party.
On Tuesday, February 12, “The Party” is at 8 p.m. in Portland’s cozy SPACE Gallery. Canadian baroque-pop/indie-folk artist Andy Shauf will be performing from his 2016 album and sharing a vast array of sound from his other three collections. Think everything from a sunset playing the ukulele to violently building violins.
Throughout “The Party,” Shauf goes from perching anonymously in the corner to experiencing firsthand the anxieties of party-goers, from mundane musings to intense inquiries about dying. The surface narrative of his song “The Worst in You” is that Shauf can’t find his girlfriend in the crowd, but this sense of loss leads to Shauf questioning his relationship: “Are you running around or just running away?”
He recognizes the front people put on while peering through his own. In “Begin Again,” he sings: “This time you should take a bow at the very end / It’s quite an act you put on.” Although Shauf illuminates these unsettlingly-accurate emotions you may experience at a party, the gentle, warm tone of his voice and the constant presence of light acoustic guitar plucks still allows listeners to sit back and passively bathe in the harmonies.
You may not have heard of Shauf before, but the show is worth packing a car and taking a few hours out of a Tuesday night. Shauf sounds like indie icon Elliott Smith if he produced louder, slightly-less-somber music with more instrumental depth—from the clarinet, to percussion, to synth. His music has similar smooth energy to that of Father John Misty with less obvious lyrical boldness.
Throughout his full body of work, Shauf captures specific, intimate feelings that your brain could never adequately express—from feeling like you left something in the past and therefore are unable to see clearly or live purposefully—“Spend my open eyes on the things I left behind / My sturdy feet and my hopeful life”—to so desperately seeking to exist in one moment that everything else seems meaningless—“Let’s forget all the things that we’ve been learning / From the books with the pages not worth turning.”
For fans of “boygenius” indie superstars Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers, be sure to arrive early to hear opener Haley Heynderickx’s melancholic folk melodies. Her music is both playful and powerful; in her most popular track, “Oom Sha La La,” Heynderickx sings, “The brink of my existence essentially is a comedy / The gap in my teeth and all that I can cling to.”
If it’s hard to think about leaving campus on a Tuesday night, think about how it would improve your Wednesday. Have you ever been to a concert where you felt like you were floating while walking out of the venue? And when you woke up the next morning, the show almost felt like a dream, but you could still feel the bass thumping in your chest? I assure you that Shauf and Heynderickx promise a show that will leave you grinning to the ring of your alarm the next morning.
Whether you’re willing to take the trip to Portland or simply searching for some new favorite tunes, check out the following songs for a taste of these performers. Andy Shauf: “The Magician,” “Twist Your Ankle,” “Jenny Come Home,” “Sunset Canyon,” “With You.” Haley Heynderickx: “Worth It,” “Oom Sha La La,” “Show You a Body,” “Francis,” “Crow Song.”