Angel Olsen at the Phoenix; Wednesday December 6, 2017

At thirty years old, Angel Olsen has reached a point in her very established career where she can release an album of B-Sides. With four full-length recordings to date, Olsen is an artist that varies her style, but never at the cost of quality of sound.

Being my third time seeing Olsen live, I found this time to be more playful and lighter spirited. Somehow, with minimal audience engagement and a tight hour and a half-long set. Olsen jested to the crowd “We’ll be playing here again tomorrow”, as if she was playing a regular residency at a tiny club.

Early on in the set Olsen showed some love for one of her guitarists, acknowledging that it was his birthday. Some extra hoots and woos were given and the guitarist playfully pointed at his heavy left hand that donned a ring on its fourth finger. Upon filing back on stage for the encore, the guitarist cheekily said to the crowd “No one’s sang me Happy Birthday yet.” Immediately the audience started singing and a bit disorderly, Olsen chimed in with the same song at a different pace.

I suspect part of this enjoyment and a playfulness came from a place of comfort and establishment as a musician. Unlike the last few times I’ve seen her, she wore a race car driver body suit, except in solid metallic gold. Her hair was its usual messy half up style with trimmed bangs that look like she cut them herself in a dim lit bathroom. Upon returning for her encore, she reentered the stage with the silver tinsel wig she wore in the video for “Shut Up and Kiss Me.”

The band were in their modest country band frocks – powder blue suits

A major high was watching Olsen’s band rock out. Two lead guitarists flanked the stage at both sides. Their sound was playful and fun and while separated, they sounded incredible playing off each other.

Another major high was watching the set closer (before the encore) wrap up with a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “I Found a Reason.” Olsen asked the audience to sing along, especially to the hard-to-hit low parts, and to be nice to those singing around following it with a half thought through comment: “because it’s hard”.

A major low was helping catch a middle-aged Mom that fainted at the show. My knee-jerk reaction was to help, so I cradled her head as her lifeless body descended to the floor. She eventually woke, surprised to hear that she had briefly passed out, she immediately said that needed some fresh air. Space and sight lines are always so limited at the Phoenix. I am so grateful for intensified bookings at the Danforth Music Hall.

Required listening:

Required listening after you listen to the above video.

This sparkly gem wasn’t played last night, but it’s one of my favourite songs… ever:

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Gush: George Fest

The last time  Brit Daniel and I hung out was a hot July afternoon in Eau Claire, Wisconsin at Eaux Claires music festival. I often play Daniel’s band Spoon at my bar, always to high praise or at very least familiarity.

Daniel has totally wiped me away with this incredible cover of my favourite Beatles and George Harrison song, “I Me Mine”:

 

And all the additional gushes for these other George Fest performances:

 

The trailer for the concert film:

 

 

Concert Review: Sandro Perri at Burdock

It’s been five years since I saw Sandro Perri live. He was pushing his new album, Impossible Spaces, and had cool openers, Bry Webb and Ryan Driver. Apparently, opening act LUKA had roped Perri out to play the gig.

I was surprised to see the classy outfit Perri brought together. I don’t remember seeing him with a trumpet/flute accompaniment. Toronto musician, Ryan Driver played the flute with some of the worst wind instrument posture. As a former flute player, I was always told to keep a balanced stance that allows air to flow freely through your body. Driver’s legs were crossed, back hunched and head forward with a duck-like pull. I’ll admit Driver still sounded good.

Perri’s trumpet player, Nicole Rampersaud, made trumpet sounds I didn’t even know were possible. They weirdly blended and stuck out perfectly.

The set was short. He managed to play a few of my favourite tunes – Tiny Mirrors’ strongest tune “Double Suicide” was played second in the set. Perri told the crowd after playing the song that he tried to write a song about suicide. His drummer chimed in to say a young child told him that you can’t force a suicide – the audience awkwardly chuckled.

I was super excited to hear Impossible Spaces‘ nine-minute bleeding tune “Wolfman,” which has always had a certain likeness to Neil Young’s “Walk On.” The set followed up with a closing cover of John Martyn’s “Couldn’t Love You More.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard him tackle this cover, but it sure was lovely.

Gush: 10 years of Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins

“Ruuuun Devvvvillll Ruuun, Deeeevil Ruuun, Deeeevvvilll Ruuuuuu-uun. From Love…”

These four words open up Jenny Lewis’ masterpiece Rabbit Fur Coat. They also are likely to turn people off of the album even faster. Rabbit Fur Coat turned ten recently, an album that’s stayed with me in. In fact, it was my full-album choice last Saturday at the bar. It’s tender (waltz “Melt Your Heart”), gritty (country ho-down “The Big Guns”) and timeless (Wilbury’s classic “Handle With Care”).

I managed to catch two gigs in support of this album – one in March at the Opera House and a second in October at Trinity St Paul church. For the latter gig, the band walked down the aisle as if they were getting hitched as they bellowed the album’s opening four words. It was incredible. I am the luckiest girl in the world. Although I am slightly crushed I can’t make their 10-year reunion in LA this Friday.

Lewis has even got a graphic novel based on the album on the market now… Only available at the three show she’ll be playing in all the cool American cities.

Now, time travel ten years to the very amazing Autumn de Wilde photo series for the album’s artwork. De Wilde wrote on her Instagram that the photo shoot was at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in LA.

Jennylewisrabbitfurcoatjenny1jenny7Jenny4jenny

JennyLewis-RabbitFurCoat

 

Gush: “Baby” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Little Richard cover)

You may know Little Richard’s hugely, hugely famous song “Tutti Fruitti,” which I feel dorky writing out. Unknown Mortal Orchestra is toning down their psych-dance sound to interpret Little Richard’s tune “Baby,” originally release with “Tutti Fruitti” on an album called Here’s Little Richard in 1957.