I decided to attend for two simple reasons: I had not yet been to a show at the Tea Bazaar, and I like female singer songwriters. Angel Olsen had been written up favorably by Pitchfork, so it seemed like a good fit. Sure, the magazine mentioned that her music might cause some to "worry for Olsen's emotional health," but the author mentioned warmth somewhere in there too. Who doesn't like warmth?
Given Pitchfork's description of her music, I sort of assumed I'd being seeing an artist who's a little dark and a little weird. When the openers cleared, I couldn't help but chuckle to myself as a girl sitting on the amp for the start of the evening - looking both very hipster and very much my style - took the stage as the headliner.
Musically, her songwriting conjured up thoughts of Rufus Wainwright, while her style made me think: this is a guitar-playing, hipster Billie Holiday up on stage. Her performance of 'Some things Cosmic' was a highlight. There's a haunting fairy tale quality to the song; the kind of thing you might imagine playing at the end of a Sleeping Beauty flick where the poor girl never wakes up. 'Miranda' and 'Lonely Universe' were also fantastic; the latter being a tune about family, with songwriting qualities that have stuck with me for days.
Is it possible for a musician to be both hurting and happy; captivating, yet sending a clear message to the world to back off? Her performance and persona seem to fall in the middle, in a way that only a handful of artists successfully manage. Maybe this is the real appeal of Angel Olsen, at the end of the day: life brings pain and smiles in the same second, and we all find a way to survive in the space between. She has not only survived, but found a way to tell a damn good version of her story on stage.
In short, keep your eyes open for Angel Olsen coming to town. If she does and you miss it, you might regret it later.
**keep your eyes open for more posts from our outpost in Charlottesville!**