Whether she’s roller skating in a tinsel wig, roaming amongst cacti in the desert, or dancing in a formal gown on a bathroom floor, Angel Olsen is captivating, romantic, and haunting all at once. With her latest album My Woman, Olsen sinks into a less distorted and more mature sound while still managing to capture the same raw emotion we saw before with Half Way Home and Burn Your Fire for No Witness. In fact, the album’s combination between lovesick, clear vocals and crunchy guitar leads might make it my favorite of 2016.
She has an aesthetic to match, too—her band wore coordinating light blue-grey suits while Angel wore a tight, tan satin mini dress reminiscent of what she might have worn to her high school prom. In person I also became much more aware of the Missouri-raised singer’s old-school country and folk influences, making her appear almost like a revamped, rocker-girl Patsy Cline. With bold monochrome lights and the Fillmore’s beautiful crystal chandeliers, Angel Olsen and her band could not have made for a prettier picture.
Even better, her performance was just as angelic as her name suggests. Angel Olsen was heartfelt and precise in her live performance, focusing on her carefully polished vocals and baring her soul in such a way that a hush, almost tangibly, fell over the crowd. She really does sound just like the record if not better, hitting every wailing high note and then immediately after growling through notes an octave lower. Of course, right as her previous song might have brought you to tears, she makes some sarcastic joke about how it was the day after valentines day, or that she’s about to play some real “dark shit.” She embodies her music’s romantic image no doubt, but is also refreshingly real in a way that demands respect and attention. Plus, she plays a fulfilling 90-minute set, covering songs across all her albums (something I don’t find often amongst her indie-rock peers).
Though I thought I would leave the show somewhat sad given the content of her music, I instead left feeling refreshed and at peace. I cried, danced, swayed, and laughed with all the equally captivated audience members around me. However, after a four-song long jammy encore I felt restored, and haven’t gotten ballads like “Heart Shaped Face” or “Intern” out of my head since.
Photo is a still from the video "Intern," Written and Directed by Angel Olsen.