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Angel Olsen tackles the grind of touring at gridiron-like Turner Hall show

Harrison Dilts
Pabst Theater Group

I've been to enough concerts in my lifetime this year to tell when a national touring artist's stage of exhaustion has shifted from "we're having fun" to "let's power through this."

It was evident Angel Olsen had reached that point Thursday during her show at Turner Hall Ballroom. She even said as much on stage. "This is the big thing about being a musician," she confessed in a sing-songy way toward the end of her set, "singing every single night even when you're not feeling it."

It's understandable, after all, that she and her band may be feeling a bit morose. The Forever Winter North American Tour has been going pretty much non-stop since August, including a recent extensive leg in Europe. Yet despite any fatigue, Olsen made light of it by mixing in refreshing banter and delivering a powerful musical performance that rivals anyone on the modern day indie rock circuit.

Olsen's wit was palpable early on, when — after playing her hit "Spring" second in the set — she introduced a "new" song for lovers she's been working on: "Shut Up Kiss Me" (by far her most-streamed song to date).

The Turner Hall crowd (more rowdy than usual for this genre) appreciated and reciprocated Olsen's often dry humor. On several occasions, she asked for requests from the crowd, to which there were many replies. "I feel like we're at a football game," she commented. "As an audience, top five."

As for Olsen's performance, it'd be cliché to say she has the voice of an angel. And incorrect. In fact, she has one of the most powerful, distinct voices I've ever heard. Her range and ability to oscillate between softness and loudness in an instant is remarkable. That was showcased best on "Go Home," my favorite song off her most recent EP, Big Time. To draw from the earlier football comparison, her voice has so much carry that you could probably hear her across a packed Lambeau Field.

Olsen has a three-show stay at Chicago's Thalia Hall Dec. 1-3 followed by five more shows in the southern U.S. before some time off from touring. "I need to cocoon and go inward and see what’s there for the next chapter and you never know, do you?" she said in a recent social media post.

Whatever's next, my hope is she emerges well-rested, ready to write more heart-wrenching music and entertaining fans for years to come.

88Nine Social Media Manager | Radio Milwaukee