“Is there a pool at this festival that we can jump into?”
Angel Olsen was ready to beat the heat at ACL Fest, and perhaps she was rethinking her band’s well-dressed look. Decked out in a bright beige jumpsuit and surrounded by four musicians in suits with bolo ties, the five-piece unit looked spectacular, but it wasn’t the most comfortable attire. “I should’ve worn a swimsuit,” Olsen said, only half-joking.
Did she head across the street to Barton Springs after her set? She’d probably dig it. In the meantime, her 5 p.m. set on the Miller Lite Stage provided a wonderful midday chill-out, with songs that relied more on mesmerizing moods and Olsen’s captivating vocals than the kinds of energetic pyrotechnics that tend to dominate festival lineups.
Olsen’s music probably is more ideally suited to concert halls and theaters; earlier this year, she taped an episode of the “Austin City Limits” TV show at ACL Live. There’s a lot of subtle beauty in her songwriting; though her lead guitarist occasionally punctuates her spells with stinging blasts of noise, it’s ultimately the quiet moments that stand out the most, and make Olsen’s music special. Though she’s capable of garage-inspired grit akin to Australian phenom Courtney Barnett, her music more often recalls the hypnotic romanticism of 1990s band Mazzy Star, or perhaps the lovely emotionalism of Canadian chanteuse Jane Siberry.
Not everyone in the crowd was game for such a slowdown. As her set progressed, the stage-front area thinned out, perhaps predictable with some festgoers looking to get a good spot for big-stage 6 p.m. sets by Ice Cube and Cut Copy. Olsen cut her set a little short, ending eight minutes early in part because a keyboard that had been set up for her to play on at least one song wasn’t functioning. But many who stuck around till the end loved every minute of it.