Gazing into the eyes of the audience like a cat who wants attention, Angel Olsen ever so slightly grazed the strings of her ’79 Gibson S-1 as she sung the words “I ain’t hanging up this time / I ain’t giving up tonight.”
The 1,200 people inside the sold-out Union Transfer sang it with Olsen, who was decked out like Lady Stardust, wearing a glammy and metallic one-piece spacesuit-looking outfit. It was the moment the audience had been waiting for, and they didn’t have to wait very long for it. After opening with “Hi-Five,” a track from Olsen’s 2014 record, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, she dove straight into “Shut Up Kiss Me,” the radio-hit that propelled her into the spotlight. Seconds later, the rest of the band, sporting grey-blue pants and blazers and bolo ties, chimed in for the chorus in their ongoing sloppy-cool, not-trying-too-hard musical style.
It was a ballsy move. Playing your hit song so early on in the setlist? it can open the door for a steep drop-off in energy as the night progresses. But Angel Olsen’s a pro. This ain’t her first rodeo.
In fact, the first half of the setlist was dominated by Olsen’s catchier, more upbeat songs, such as “Give It Up” and “Not Gonna Kill You.” That eventually gave way to some of Olsen’s more introspective songs, like “Heart Shaped Face,” “Sister,” and “Those Were The Days,” all from last year’s breakthrough, MY WOMAN. From there, Olsen played a captivating solo set, in which the North Carolina-based singer performed “Sans,” from her latest B-sides and overs album Phases, and “Unfucktheworld,” from Burn Your Fire. What was almost as captivating as the songs were Olsen’s frequent banter with the crowd, asking what she should do after tour (winning answer: “send a fax”) and gibing over their shouted out requests (“are you looking at the setlists online?”) A significant number of the crowd wa especially fond of Olsen’s guitarist, local boy and Fishtowner Paul Sukeena. His name was called out consistently throughout the night, adding to Olsen’s facetious jealousy. “They really like you here, Paul,” she said at one point, one of many quips she’d make about Philly’s enthusiasm for Sukeena.
Once the band returned to the stage after Olsen’s brief solo set, they finished out the main set with “Fly on Your Wall” and “Acrobat” from Phases and Half Way Home, respectively. The two song encore consisted of Half Way Home‘s “The Waiting” and a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “I Found a Reason.” Below check out a gallery of photos from the set, as well as a fan video.
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