In a clear sign of her burgeoning popularity, Angel Olsen hit town once again, in a much larger venue than her last tour. Swapping the relatively cozy confines of The Sinclair for the expanse of House of Blues, she had no problem getting right at home and connecting with the audience. Her songs on LP tend to be sparser, more intimate affairs as compared to the presentation with abetted with her five piece band. Sporting bolo ties and suit coats, the band’s wardrobe wasn’t as eye-catching as Olsen’s silver spacesuit and they tended to hang back in the shadows while Olsen took center stage. “Sister” was a good example of the sort of dynamics the band brought; the guitars were doing three separate things (solo; slide; rhythm) and they all complemented each other splendidly, neither one fighting to barge out in front of the others. At times, the Cohen-like intimacy of the songs, paired with the curtained stage backdrop, felt like a set at the Roadhouse during the close of a Twin Peaks episode. Closing out with a Velvet Underground cover she prefaced by warning it would tax the lower register of her vocal range, she left the stage with a giggle at getting through it just fine.
At first glance, I thought that Bay Area psych merchants Heron Oblivion were a bit of a off matching, but then again I felt that way when they opened a Boston Calling after party show for the late soul legend Charles Bradley a couple years back and easily won over the room. In the right circles, this quartet is rightly regarded as a folk/psych supergroup, with pedigrees including stints in projects such as Espers, Comets On Fire, and Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound. In Heron Oblivion, they take the threads of those bands and weave something completely new. Though it was a tad disappointing not to hear the parched, scorching guitar blister of “Beneath Fields,” the band treated the room to a long sneak preview of material slated for the next record, playing only two songs from their debut and closing their set with a nice cover of Doug Sahm’s (via the Sir Douglas Quintet) “Crossroads.” Looking forward to that next slab!
Photos from both bands:
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