Hitting the road solo for the first time since 2014, Angel Olsen brought her between-albums Tiny Dreams tour to the Westward Music Festival in Vancouver on September 15th for a show promising material from “her early catalogue, new unreleased material, and a lot that falls in between.”
Setting the mood with dramatic lighting, a lot of smoke, and a single black guitar, Olsen crooned a number of dark, atmospheric tales of melancholy to a captive audience. Even during the most intimate moments of the set, the audience was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Folks who were enjoying the Saturday night festival atmosphere were entranced and appreciative throughout the night.
“I wrote the next song when I was 22 or 23 and really understood what pain was, the weight of life crashing down on me. That was the first time it happened and then it just gets worse from there,” the singer said with a laugh before she played “White Fire” from the 2014 release Burn Your Fire for No Witness. Her banter was witty and self-deprecating throughout the night, joking about poutine and border guards as she engaged with the crowd between songs to provide some levity from the heaviness of the music.
Notably absent from the set were any tracks off of Olsen’s 2016 hit record, My Woman. Perhaps as a way to address this, at one point in the night, Olsen introduced a new song by saying “it’s no Shut Up Kiss Me.” She then proceeded to mock her biggest single to date, describing how arduous is has been to play it so many times.
These are undoubtedly champagne problems, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Requests from the youthful audience geared towards older tracks such as the 2013 single “California,” to which Olsen replied “I’ll do it at some point but I have to find the right spot. It’s like a mixtape, it’s a vibe.” The singer did eventually oblige, playing “California” near the end of the evening to much appreciation.
The set built to a climactic end, with Olsen finally demonstrating her impressive vocal range on a new, unreleased track before closing with a cover of Springsteen's “Tougher Than the Rest.” Mood set, we all filed out into the rain feeling a little lighter, despite the darkness of the music and the weather.
Image: Gabri Guerrero