Last Friday, Dec. 1, indie folk-rock singer and songwriter Angel Olsen performed an electrifying set for a packed audience at Brooklyn Steel. The sold-out show was attended by people of all ages, from college students to music fans in their late 60s.
Olsen, born in St. Louis, Missouri, is known for her breakthrough second studio album, “Burn Your Fire for No Witness,” which the A.V. Club named the best album of 2014. She followed that record up with 2016’s “My Woman,” which gained even more critical acclaim, appearing on nine publications’ top 10 best album of the year lists. Last November, she released “Phases,” a collection of previously unreleased material, including the song “Fly on Your Wall” which was, until now, only available on the Bandcamp anti-Trump collaborative project “Our First 100 Days.”
“My Woman” was a declaration against typecasting. Not wanting to be seen as just an independent lo-fi artist with her earlier albums, Olsen experimented with other genres such as synthpop, pop and grunge. Her music is an enchanting mix of confidence and vulnerability, aided by her endless vocal talent.
Psych-rock supergroup Heron Oblivion opened the show. The group joined together the forces of Meg Baird, Noel Von Harmonson, Charlie Saufley and Ethan Miller, all of whom were previously members of 2000s era psych rock groups. Their collective experience became very clear as they immediately set the crowd ablaze, and the music varied between dreamy and atmospheric to heavy and hard-hitting. It was a perfect headlining act for Olsen.
As the main event started, the lights descended upon the stage. Five of Olsen’s band members appeared dressed in blue suits and bolo ties. They went to their respective instruments and began playing. The audience was bursting with anticipation for the singer herself to appear. After the band played solo for a while, Olsen made her way onstage, scored by the band’s instrumentals and roaring applause. She was dressed in a silver one-piece outfit that refracted light in all directions.
She began the concert with the song “Hi-Five” off “Burn Your Fire,” before transitioning into her second song, the hit single “Shut Up Kiss Me” off “My Woman.” As the show went on, Olsen and her crew continued rocking the concert hall, playing songs like the grungy “Give It Up” and the intense “Not Gonna Kill You.”
When it was time for the inevitable encore, Olsen came back on stage with a shiny silver wig that matched her outfit and performed a cover of David Bowie’s “Five Years” before ending the night with “The Waiting” from her debut album.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 4 print edition.
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