Maybe it was the mass hangover on Sunday at 2pm, or maybe it was the heat but the Capitol Hill Block Party crowd at Angel Olsen’s Main Stage showing seemed quieted by something. In my corner of the audience, that something was Olsen’s striking voice, which, despite months of touring, could still reproduce the bulk of 2014’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguar) with nearly identical precision. Beginning the set with “Acrobat,” a track from her debut EP, Half Way Home (Bathetic, 2012), Olsen stunned the crowd with the haunting range of her voice, which fluctuated from delivering louder notes to punctuating quieter places with a soft, controlled quiver. Olsen’s slower material leaves no question that she can do forlorn serious fare with the best of them, but she sets herself apart is when she sprinkles in humor, especially on material where loneliness would otherwise prevail as the predominant theme.
Olsen recently performed “High-Five” on David Letterman delivering the oft-quoted line, “are you lonely too/are you lonely too/HIGH-FIVE/So am I” with stoicism broken up only by the occasional smirk. Like the crowd at Block Party, Letterman embraced Olsen’s performance and rightly so, she’s one of the most exciting acts to emerge in 2014. Plus, with that blues-y, prairie-inspired sound, I can’t help but think she would be the perfect candidate to produce a completely killer rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”