It’s not a misnomer. Angel Olsen is a baby-banged, easy-voiced actual angel. Descended from some silver tinsel cloud with pieces of glitter still stuck to her blouse and a real need to tell you what she feels about the whole situation.
Met by a whooping, sardined Mohawk crowd, Olsen remarked, “Last time I was here was not as welcoming,” and grinned coyly before singing the songs that were responsible for the change in reception. As evidenced by front row fans who brought along copies of 2014’s “Burn Your Fire For No Witnesses,” Olsen wasn’t without a following before her widely acclaimed “My Woman.” But after a quick sellout prompted a second Austin show (which also sold out), she played for a different crowd. These people came to see an angel.
Olsen’s voice live was just as sweet and different-sounding as it is recorded. There was no mistaking who was singing to you, especially on winding songs like “Heart Shaped Face” and “Intern.” Despite a three-guitar band, Olsen’s voice was the weightiest instrument. But even more enchanting than listening to it was watching it come to be. Olsen needed barely open her doll mouth to produce the full, resounding voice that came from some unseen place within her. It’s confusing to pair what you’re hearing with such a lack of visible effort.
Throughout the show, most of Olsen’s correspondence with those singing along was nonverbal. She stared too long at either an individual face in the crowd or one of her bolo-tied bandmates and then smiled knowingly. She made you feel like this was all one big inside joke you were not in on, but for some reason you’d be amused, too. She said hi after opener “You’ll Always Be Mine” by reminding the crowd to “Call your senators,” and, before literally running off stage during closer “Give It Up,” simply shouted, “Bye!” into the mic.
She dedicated one song “to your mom.”
Near the end of the show as she crooned and repeated “I want to know you” during eight-minute sprawler “Sister,” you found yourself thinking the exact same thing about Olsen herself. What is she giggling about? What state is she from? “Is it me you were thinking of?”
Angel Olsen dares you to claim her, dares you to say “I get it,” and then laughs at you when you do. But it’s okay because, for some reason, you’re laughing too.
Olsen will play a second show tonight at the Mohawk. If you are one of the many unlucky ones who did not secure a ticket, I encourage you to “Call your senators.” Missing her is a true injustice.