Review: Angel Olsen at the Woodward Theater

Photos by Jesse Roos

I think it’s time to crown the new queen of Rock and Roll. Well that at least was the thought running through my mind during the Angel Olsen show at the Woodward Theater last night. And it didn’t run through once or twice, but honestly after every song Angel and her band performed under the dim lights to a packed and buzzing crowd. She came into town just a week after dropping her latest LP, My Woman which has already been praised by nearly every music publication out there, so it was obvious why everyone was so eager to see her.

Angel’s opener, Julianna Barwick set an eerie mood throughout the entire theater, layering her chilling vocals over just a solo synthesizer. Much of the crowd knew her name already and were vibing to her ballads while the ones who didn’t know where asking where they could find her music.

Angel’s band were the first to come out on stage, all matching in baby blue suits that looked like they were taken straight out of Graceland. Angel, however, was dressed in a black sweater and maroon pants. She looked unkempt compared to her bandmates, but it was in the most attractive and even liberating way possible.

The band sounded incredibly tight from the very first note, starting with “Never Be Mine” off of My Woman. From there, Angel and her band ping-ponged back and forth between My Woman and her 2014 release, Burn Your Fire for No Witness.

If you’re a fan of the guitar, this show would have made you reach a new level of nirvana. It was enlightening to realize how much guitar Angel Olsen’s music really has. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of her two guitarists on opposite sides of the stage sharing, following, and dueling each other with hooks and riffs galore on songs such as the near eight minute ballad, “Sister” and one of Angel’s first breakout hits, “Forgiven/Forgotten.”  This was also all orchestrated by Angel herself playing a subtle rhythm guitar to keep tempo.  

Angel Olsen

Angel also sounded very excited and grateful to play in Cincinnati, especially inside the Woodward Theater. She stopped several times after songs to say how appreciative she was for being booked at the theater. There really isn’t a better place in the city to host Angel Olsen. It’s small enough for the spectators to really get that intimate feeling Angel and her band radiates, but the Woodward’s acoustics just did nothing but help their booming sound at parts. And in no better way did this show on her respected singles, “Hi-Five” and “Shut Up and Kiss Me.”

What really set this concert apart though, was surprisingly at the encore. The entire set had built up and climaxed for the reprise set. Angel and her drummer came walking out under a dim green light, as nearly every fan stayed inside cheering for one more song. It was just her, her drummer, and two synth keyboards, so the only song where that could fit was her first single off of My Woman, “Intern.” This performance alone was ethereal. Angel belted out her falsetto vocals near the end of the song, as the remainder of the band came out to perform the true final song of the night, “Woman” which got much praise from the female population of the audience (no surprise.)

The show as a whole seemed to set a new standard for rock acts in the modern day. Despite the minimal aestheticism with the band being matched in their honky-tonk suits, Angel Olsen and her band lets the music do all the talking. Angel had some slow-tempo songs played during the set but never did the show become dull. When the instruments became quieter, her voice became more prolific. When her voice got quieter, so did the band but everyone just became more attentive. Angel Olsen went solo for some of her early EPs and self-released albums, but after seeing this show, she is without a doubt a bona fide band leader and one of the must see acts of 2016.

View Photos From The Show HERE!

Angel Olsen