On November 28th Angel Olsen returned to Charlottesville for the first time in three years to launch her December tour at The Jefferson Theater.
Olsen began the evening with an upbeat song on loneliness, “Hi-Five,” followed by a fan favorite, “Shut up Kiss Me.” Olsen built a set for all to love as she explored dreamy synth bops, driving rock and roll and everything in between with songs from her first full length, Half Way Home, through her most recent b-sides release, Phases.
In line with her unique sound, the band of Luke Norton (guitar), Paul Sukeena (guitar), Emily Elhaj (bass), Heather McEntire (vocals/keys) and Joshua Jaeger (drums) struck a quirky visual harmony as they each wore light gray suits and Olsen (vocals, guitar, keys) rocked a silver “space suit” with shiny black boots and the occasional silver wig.
While Olsen colorfully incorporated many unexpected elements into her sound, style and lyrics, she consistently weaved a raw honesty into each layer as in “Intern,” where she matter-of-factly states, “I just want to be alive, make something real.” Throughout her performance she reflected on unrequited love, the finite nature of time and the repetitive cycles of life we undergo in order to learn and grow.
Olsen’s songs boldly showcase human needs and emotions in a way that validates the experience of pain while showing that there is hope in facing and overcoming hardship. Accepting life for what it is, warts and all, requires true acceptance of oneself, a self-awareness which Olsen used to amplify the most powerful parts of her songwriting during the captivating performance.
In an Instagram post a few weeks earlier, Olsen wrote that her most recent album, Phases, is “…like a diary was stolen and mass produced, but that’s chill with me I got nothin to hide.” Her confessional set cast a similar feeling of embracing truth and imperfection across her entire catalogue.
Olsen boldly illuminated her realistic and unadorned life lessons to an adoring audience throughout her performance. A standout moment came during “Lights Out” as she sang:
“If you feel like quitting now, then try a little harder
The things we need the most, they seem to take a little longer
No one’s gonna try it for you, darling, no one
No one’s gonna wait there with you…
If you don’t feel good about it, then turn around
If you really mean it, baby, stand your ground
No one’s gonna take it for you, darling, it’s true
No one’s gonna wait there with you”
Covering David Bowie late in the set, Olsen looked directly at the crowd and shouted, “We’ve got five years!” as fans screamed and applauded. It was a highlight worthy of national coverage and certainly a special moment for her first return to Charlottesville in almost as much time.
That night Angel Olsen and her band made something real, and we all came a little closer to accepting ourselves in the process.
- “Hi-Five” from Burn Your Fire for No Witness
- “Shut Up, Kiss Me” from My Woman
- “Give it Up” from My Woman
- “Not Gonna Kill You” from My Woman
- “Lights Out” from Burn Your Fire for No Witness
- “Heart Shaped Face” from My Woman
- “Those Were the Days” from My Woman
- “Special” from Phases
- “Woman” from My Woman
- “Sans” from Phases
- “Unfucktheworld” from Burn Your Fire for No Witness
- “Five Years” a cover from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie
- “The Waiting” from Half Way Home
- “Tiniest Seed” from Half Way Home
Check out photos by Christy Fox below: