Angel Olsen needs to be on your calendar next time she rolls through the city, and her concert at Warsaw this past Sunday proved it. Backed by her blue-suited, bolo-tied bandmates, Olsen absolutely killed it on stage, lighting up an otherwise drab recreational facility full of overheated, sweaty Brooklynites packed like sardines. It wasn’t so much the spectacle as it was the tangible passion of every note throughout the show that took the crowd out of its discomfort and into some other place of music and emotion.
Without a doubt, the entire night’s success leaned on Olsen’s show. The venue, while welcoming, was anything but impressive, sporting bleak walls and horrible air conditioning. The expectations then hit rock bottom when Alex Cameron, an awkward, tall Aussie with a greaser hairdo took the stage, rocking a teal velvet suit over a cheap-looking tank top. Aside from his sleepwalking saxophonist, his vocal-driven set was entirely backed by boombox beat patterns. Fortunately for the crowd, he knew how to have some fun with his stage banter, giving him at least a slight air of coolness.
Eventually the time for Angel’s set arrived and the lights finally dimmed. The bolo ties found their place, and shortly after came Angel herself. She dove right into the set with “Never Be Mine,” gripping the room with her cool, collected command. As things picked up with “Shut Up Kiss Me,” Olsen casually dropped in a few ripping vocals to rile up the fans. By the last half of the show, the thematic agony of her music turned aggressive with the flashing lights featured behind “Not Gonna Kill You.”
Mid-show, her guitar strings snapped, forcing her to leave the stage to close out the set. Of course, an encore followed. However, she ended the show on a somber note, with “Intern” and “Woman” playing off the cold keys of her piano, which was more powerful than the standard “hit song” conclusion.
Beyond the tailing harmonies, pristine bass lines, characteristic Angel-Olsen-vocal chords, and a few guitar solos sprinkled in, the standout element of the show was her facial expressions. As weird as that sounds, she really brought tangibility to her misery by living it through her body language. Her furrowed brow and bulging veins spoke way beyond her screaming lyrics. Every minute or so she’d break character and let out the most priceless smile, which admitted the possibility that maybe, just maybe she’s not as miserable as her music makes her out to be.
See WSN’s review of Angel Olsen’s recent LP “Woman” here.
Email Jacob Fox at [email protected]