Angel Olsen at the Cedar Cultural Center, 5/1/14
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis
Thursday, May 1, 2014
It was a cool, calm May Day last night at the Cedar. The room filled up for a near-capacity welcome for the latest indie darling, singer/songwriter, Angel Olsen's debut in the Twin Cities.
The energy of anticipation was as palatable as the light mist that lit up the West Bank for Olsen, who's been traversing the globe with two delicious LPs under her belt. Having managed to strike a chord with listeners that has shot her into the spotlight, her considerable local radio impact is a testament to her original songs that veer on the personal, intimate and reflective.
"Together I can't let go," she sang in her trademark quiver, filling the room with pleasant energy for first song, "Free." Her three-piece band steadily found a groove, and the unassuming Olsen immediately incited a wave of sweet grins and gentle swaying in the crowd.
Unfortunately, a stage monitor snafu caused everything to come to a screeching halt giving Olsen an opportunity to address the audience, "Hey, Happy May Day. I think I might just finish my wine as our new friend, Eric here handles things." As Eric the sound man and Olsen's lead guitarist worked things out with the sound system she kicked into "Hi-Five," maintaining the momentum she had going as the audience in gratitude followed her lead, singing along.
Photo by Kate Murray
Warmed up, Olsen commanded the stage, her lilting vocals alternating between confident and vulnerable. Watching several couples canoodling during "Acrobat," it became most evident how the universal themes in her songs work in a live setting. Throughout the evening, those delighted by her songs mouthed along in varying states of ecstasy. It often caused Olsen to smile and wink at those that would catch her eye.
The band's duel guitars gave a hypnotic, almost psychedelic wash of sound during "High and Wild" and a lush bed for Olsen's voice. With the chugging rhythm of her drummer and bassist, the song was a turning point, and one of the few less subdued moments during the set.
Photo by Kate Murray
Eventually leaving Olsen by her lonesome, the band exited the stage. Reaching back in her catalog, her smoldering vocals reached spectacular heights and held strong in a pleasant warbling fashion that would make Tiny Tim proud during a solo "Miranda."
Continuing to captivate the audience with an effortless crescendo in her voice, Olsen elevated the intimacy in the room. Closing her eyes as she sang, getting lost in the lyrics she looked up with an almost startled look that she was singing in front of so many.
Returning with the band for the encore, Olsen's undeniable command of everyone's attention gave a final release for "Stars." Leaving everyone completely satisfied there's no doubt the Twin Cities has adopted Olsen. Stunned and in love with Angel, it felt like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Critic's Bias: After hearing Olsen on Radio K nearly hourly this past year I was very anxious to hear the voice live.
The Crowd: Every hipster indie-rocker in town.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Amazing how quiet it is in here. Guess we're at the library or something?!"
Random Notebook Dump: This Angel Olsen chick could sing the phone book and still have a packed house at the edge their seat.
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