Angel Olsen

Veronica Schmidt

I arrived at Soundstage on Thursday only knowing the words to a handful of Angel Olsen songs. I hadn’t listened to much of her music until about a week in advance when a friend asked me along, and I didn’t have any expectations. However, it ended up being one of the best concerts I’ve been to. The transformative experience that was this show left me feeling euphoric, on top of the world, and with Angel Olsen already well on her way to the top of my 2023 Spotify Wrapped. 

Opener Erin Rae got the crowd ready with some sweet, soft folk songs, telling us the names and meanings behind songs in between each. My favorite of hers was “Bad Mind”, a smooth tune about growing up in the South, where Rae is from, in a culture where people can’t be who they are. I don’t always remember an opener’s music, but Rae’s songs stuck in my head for days after.

The audience erupted in cheers as Angel Olsen and her band came out on stage. A hush fell over the crowd as she began “Dream Thing”, her voice filling up the room and transfixing us all, and every consecutive song she sang was breathtaking. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I most enjoyed “Right Now” and “All Mirrors.” Her music is unlike anything I’ve heard before, mixing a number of influences, from synth-pop to country. Her vocals were angelic and each member of the band played spectacularly, the different sounds complementing each other so well and all of it coming together in a beautiful symphony. In between songs, she talked and joked with the crowd, asking about Baltimore and sharing about her hometown of St. Louis, and she never lost our attention. Her show was a genuine religious experience, each song hitting me right in the heart and several making me tear up. 

Angel Olsen’s performance was nothing short of incredible in every aspect, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go. It was a perfect concert to start off 2023 with. Next time she’s in a city near you, absolutely do yourself the favor of buying a ticket and experiencing her live music.

Alara Kaplanoglu

This was not my first time seeing Angel Olsen in person but it was my first time seeing her perform. I was 16 when my friend and I found out that Angel Olsen was coming to Istanbul. We immediately bought tickets. My friend’s parents dropped us off and to our surprise, we were denied entry to the concert that was supposedly 18+. In the face of angry teens who couldn’t get into the Angel Olsen concert, the people in charge decided to let us meet Angel, our dear friend with whom we had a very awkward 10-minute conversation until she left the room to perform. 

We sat on the steps outside the venue listening to her painful cries thinking about what kinds of break-ups she had been through to wail like that. When my friend’s dad came to pick us up he said “It’s good that you weren’t able to get in, why is she crying like that?” To this day very few people have seen our photo with Angel Olsen.

At Soundstage, I was finally able to fulfill my 16-year-old dream. I still think I enjoyed her Istanbul concert more sitting outside on those cold steps, but this time I was able to see her as the performer that she is. Angel Olsen has a hold on her audience, which post-COVID is something I particularly appreciate. Some might say they go to concerts to hear their favorite songs live, I go to concerts for the performance. 

You can always listen to live performances on really loud speakers but you can’t always watch the cathartic interaction between Olsen and the mega-fan who knew every single line of each song. You have to be there to cry as Olsen sings “Why don’t you say you’re with me now/With all of your heart?” Alongside her very talented band, Olsen stood as a beacon of both stillness and power. She’s a folk artist but also a rocker who elaborates on folk themes of love and loss through a ponderous yet cool musicality. As Angel Olsen captured all of our hearts that one night I couldn’t help but search for my friend in the crowd knowing that she too would like to see her wail. 

Iris Lee

I was impressed the most by the instrumentation: the Big Time Band was a guitar, bass, violin, cello, and keyboardist, each person outfitted in a color of the rainbow. The cohesion of each texture built perfectly to the most chill-inducing build-ups I’d ever heard. The guitarist had a juicy, jangly tone that popped over the roar of synths, drums, and bass; the violinist and cellist added warmth, richness, and at times shrieking chaos. This gradual layering of timbres is best appreciated live, where you can observe the individual workings of each musician while appreciating the invisible conversation unfolding between them.

Angel Olsen has a magnetic voice, and its room-filling power can really only be appreciated in person. She kept things entertaining between songs with some dry commentary on Maryland’s crabs. She told us she had a special song about Baltimore she’d written the day of the concert. Everyone had their phones up to record it–then she played “Shut Up Kiss Me”.

Her style alternated between the roaring, tragic sounds of All Mirrors and the more easy, assured country influences of her latest record, Big Time. A standout performance was “All Mirrors”–an incredible, painful crescendo that ended with the cello and violin trilling like maniacs over the drum and bass. Her second-to-last song was “Chance”, a more pared-back ballad that let Angel’s voice shine as she traversed octaves with soulful ease. It was the only time I’d ever teared up at a live music performance.