Back in September, Angel Olsen quietly announced she would be adding dates to her My Woman Tour, including a show in Seattle in February. Five months later, Feb. 18 finally rolled around, and Olsen graced the stage at The Neptune Theatre.
Olsen is a singer-songwriter born in St. Louis, Missouri, now working out of Asheville, North Carolina. Olsen has been on the indie-alternative radar for years, but has gained the most critical acclaim with her 2016 album, “MY WOMAN.”
The record features Olsen’s nostalgic vocals and soft guitars perfected into new experimental tracks that glide through the airwaves. “MY WOMAN” broke into the top ten of almost every Top Albums of 2016 lists, including Pitchfork, Stereogum and KEXP.
Olsen’s show quickly sold out after the announcement despite it being over five months away. I managed to snag a ticket, and began anxiously awaiting 9 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Opening the night were local favorites Sloucher, who played a set of songs from their latest release, “Certainty,” and a new song towards the end of their set.
Chris Cohen were up next, and have been opening for Olsen at all of the south and west shows on the My Woman Tour. Cohen had a soft style with a touch of gray in his hair, and played songs from his entire discography. He played with a full band, with some added intensity to his lullaby style songs.
An eerie and spooky instrumental of the song “Intern” started shaking the walls of The Neptune around 11:15 p.m., causing the crowd to get antsy and yell out cheers of anticipation.
Olsen appeared about a minute later with her band, which were all wearing matching grey suits (pant suits for the ladies), complete with bolo ties. She didn’t waste a second and started the night with “Never Be Mine.”
She alternated songs from “MY WOMAN” and her previous record, “Burn Your Fire for No Witness,” playing favorites from both such as “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Hi-Five.”
In addition to having catchy hooks, Olsen’s lyrics describe almost any scenario, making her easy to identify with. She is a little shy on stage too, but it almost makes her more charming and charismatic.
It was about halfway through the set when she stopped and reminisced on her headlining show at Barboza years ago, a much smaller bar next to Neumos. She also added that she was exhausted, due to playing an in-studio performance at KEXP at 10 a.m.
After that point, following each song, she would remark on how tired she was or how late it was, making it seem like she almost didn’t want to be playing the show.
Olsen continued anyway with a couple slow songs, before saying she had to skip one to play a more upbeat tune to “keep herself awake.” The song was “Not Gonna Kill You,” which was much more potent than the album version.
After that track, Olsen’s manager brought out a small amount of liquid in plastic cups for the entire band to Olsen’s delight. She exclaimed, “Oh yes! Drink your juice everyone,” and then became much more energetic than before.
“Forgiven/Forgotten” and “Give It Up,” the last songs of the night, were two of my favorites. Olsen was upbeat and awake, and sang so compellingly that it was hard to look away.
After those songs, Olsen and the band disappeared before quickly returning for an encore. The first song was “Intern,” which sounded amazing in The Neptune. Olsen’s shrill vocals bounced off the walls and the organ and guitar combination gave me goosebumps.
Olsen closed the encore set with a cover of The Motel’s “Total Control,” adding her own flair to the classic 70s track. Despite the exhaustion of months of touring setting in, Olsen played a beautiful, captivating show to a sold-out room, and helped the Seattle community at the same time.
Olsen’s performance was part of the Little Big Show series, presented by Starbucks, KEXP and Seattle Theatre Group. Little Big Shows are charity events where all the proceeds are donated to a Seattle- based organization. The organization changes with each show, and the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) was chosen as the beneficiary of this show.
NFFTY started in 2007 as the flagship program of The Talented Youth, a non-profit that supports young filmmakers. NFFTY has now grown into the largest film festival for aspiring directors aged 24 and under.
Olsen’s show marked the 17th Little Big Show/ The 18th Little Big Show will to feature Mitski at The Neptune on April 8.
Anna may be reached at