In recent times, the power of the woman and her sisterhood have been felt far and wide, often leading to success and triumph. Like most entertainment mediums, music has seen a wide ranging take over of the industry from powerful women young and old. Tuesday night at the Civic, Angel Olsen, with special guest Vagabon took their well crafted voices and sounds and enveloped the mostly full crowd.
The night began with Vagabon pretty much at the advertised time, which is nice but also uncommon in our Crescent City. She's recently got accolades for her self titled album, and she didn't disappoint. Laetitia Tamko, as the entertainer is called in her day to day life, had the full confidence of the audience for her 35 minute set, and in between casual banter, she laid out a fun, candid and gorgeous set that had even none fans paying close attention. She featured Kaufman's accompanying her on stage, but this is her show first and foremost, and she sells it like a well seasoned performer. She's gonna be in to watch in the coming years.
Next up was the headliner, Angel Olsen. In not even ten years of releases, Olsen has already become a powerhouse and formidable artist in the indie rock spectrum. Her latest, this years "All Mirrors," is a captivating glimpse inside a women who above all else, just wants her space and her mind and soul to be free of burden. Her romantic twinge notwithstanding, she's cut and dry while being absolutely open with her feelings, and man or woman, it's an attribute to admire.
As the house lights made the room big and bright, and ornately elegant but spooky backdrop featuring stars hung quietly in the background, the evening paused while we the audience waited. Eventually, the house lights dimmed to allow the band to enter the evening. Accompanied by a backing band made up of mostly women and with everyone dressed in all black, the group dove right into opener "New Love Cassette," followed by "All Mirrors," and five other songs off her recent album of the same name. "All Mirrors" came off flawlessly, with Olsens voice straining beautifully under the weight of emotion that surrounds the record. I've seen plenty of shows, but her voice was something I wasn't prepared for. So full of volume, depth, and exactly how she sounds on records, she allowed the backing band, fully equipped with amazing musicians playing guitars, bass and classical string instruments to propel her own vocals to make something so beautiful. Literally I thought I was listening to the record, even though that's highly unlikely.
The first half of the set was nothing but "All Mirrors" but no one in attendance seemed to mind. This is an artist worth watching, and in just a few short years she's essentially mastered the darkness inherent in her music. It reminds the listener of some short of indie rock chamber music, very somber at times, but filled with emotion and pain everyone can understand. I'd like to find something to actually critique regarding the show, but I still can't find anything I didn't enjoy. It was just flawless.
Many of the songs performed dealt with sadness and anger, which Olsen took time to joke about, saying right before "Lark" that she only had a few more angry songs to perform before the evening got lighter in content. The between song banter was also fun and easy going, with Angel quickly realizing she had a captive and talkative audience before her. She handled it well, and seemed at ease with all the "I love you Angel" shouts filling up the room. If I had to guess, she's been hearing that more and more often as she climbs the steps to the larger rooms she's sure to be playing in the coming years.
In short, the night was full of heavy themed topics, but it was also consistently beautiful and heart felt. You can tell when an artist isn't pretending, and Angel Olsen isn't faking being so honest and upbeat. As the night gradually Unfolded though, the somberness of the opening minutes faded away with more and more people dancing and singing. This was especially obvious during "Shut up Kiss Me," which is likely her best known song at this point. The voice of the crowd grew by leaps and bounds, and it was wonderful to see the audience fully on board with an artist like this.
From there the rest of the evening was mostly older songs like "Unfuck the World," which even though it's a few years old still holds weight during our increasingly turbulent times. Rounding out the evening was the quiet nurturing of a broken heart in the shape of "Some things Cosmic," which had everyone's firm attention, and finally with "True Blue," the song she made with Mark Robson a while back. What it spelled was a night ripe with devotion and heartbreak, but also a beautiful show that ended with probably the most upbeat moment of the evening. Everyone was enthralled and left happy. Most of all, I hope Angel and her band enjoyed sharing the evening with us, because it was easily one of the best shows of the year, and something really special to witness.
Photo courtesy of Steve Hatley