Live: Angel Olsen/Lionlimb
FITZGERALD’S — 11/5/2014: The mesmerizing, hypnotizing, beautiful Angel Olsen and her four-piece band came to Houston for a show at Fitzgerald’s a little while back, bringing with them the opening band, Lionlimb, who happened to be Ms. Olsen’s guitarist Stewart Bronaugh and drummer Josh Jaeger‘s band.
Lionlimb were an easy-going, light surf-rock-meets-Pink Floyd affair and set the stage for Angel Olsen well — well, at least compared to the sludge-metal wafting up from the downstairs venue. They only played 30 minutes, so it was hard to warm up to them, and it seemed like they needed more time to warm up to an audience. The most interaction we had from them was to hear they were headed to McAllen next.
“Anyone been to McAllen?” they asked. “We’re headed there next.” “Are you playing Simon Sez?” I called out from the front row, where I had been taking photos. See, I’ve been to McAllen a couple of times, and I ‘ve played Simon Sez, a place I distinctly remember for its album covers lining the walls. I instantly felt the pain of touring and felt a little closer to Lionlimb. But they answered, “No, we are playing something called Cine El Rey.” They played a few more songs and then they were gone. They didn’t even mention they were in Angel Olsen’s band.
Angel Olsen plays quiet, intense yet serene music. That kind of performance can go bad in a hurry if the patrons aren’t attentive, but attention was not at all the problem. She held the half-full upstairs Fitzgerald’s crowd at rapt attention. It would’ve been a packed show downstairs, but I was very glad it was upstairs, as it just seems a bit more formal. (I mean, hey, it has a chandelier.) The problem — and I’ll only mention it one more time — was the heavy rock seeping up through the floor. Ah, well, I guess you can’t have it all. At one point Angel said, “We feel thunder under our feet up here.”
Through each song, she kept her fans spellbound with her breathy vocals and distant gaze. Highlights included “Hi-Five,” which reminded me of an indie-psych Lana Del Rey (who reminds me of a whole slew of artists, from Patsy Cline to Niko), “Forgotten/Forgiven,” which for me harkened back to Throwing Muses (I compare most female-fronted bands I like to them), “Lights Out,” my favorite song on her 2014 album Burn Your Fire For No Witness, which has my brain connecting Ms. Olsen to Jessica Lea Mayfield (a high compliment indeed), and the haunting closer, “White Fire,” a long, quiet intense acoustic song in the style of Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” which found Angel all alone on the stage singing directly into the soul of every fan in the room.
Unfortunately, the hypnotized crowd couldn’t pull together enough cheering to bring the band out for an encore, so we were left with a set that lasted slightly less than an hour. In fact, my wife and dog were pleasantly surprised to see me walk in the door before 11:30. Maybe next time around, we’ll be able to keep Olsen and her crew around a bit longer. END
(Photos [top to bottom]: Lionlimb; Angel Olsen. All photos by Jason Smith.)