Photo of Angel Olsen by Holly Kite.
On January 28, St. Louis-raised alt country star Angel Olsen played yet another brilliant homecoming show. It was a bracing mix of old and new, with new songs and classics from her 2010s albums. This was Olsen’s first time at the Factory (and mine), and I’m sure we both had a great time.
The evening’s entertainment began with a solo acoustic set by folk musician Erin Rae. Rae’s understated playing and serene vocals were a great match for Olsen. Nashville-based Rae is clearly influenced by ‘70s folk-pop artists like Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne. Olsen’s latest album has a retro-‘70s aesthetic, so it’s a natural pairing.
Olsen’s backing band included rhythm guitar, keyboard, drums, and cello. Olsen lent her heavenly vocals to every track; she also played lead acoustic on many songs. Her newest album, Big Time, made up about half the setlist. The strongest of these songs was the swooning title track; it contrasted nicely with the ethereal, keyboard-based “All Mirrors.” Olsen just had to include her breakout hit “Shut Up Kiss Me,” which she sarcastically introduced as “a little song we wrote just today… we’ve never played it before.”
The show felt intimate despite the size of the ensemble. Olsen engaged in some charming banter with the audience between songs, once saying that she and the band had to wrap things up: they had some Imo’s and toasted ravioli waiting for them backstage. Olsen talked a little about her experiences as a young indie rocker in St. Louis and swore that Off Broadway is the place to be. Then she looked around the room: “Oh wait… we’re not there. Awkward… but this place is nice too.”
This was my first time at the Factory and I thought it was more than just nice. The venue opened in July ‘21 and it’s larger than the Pageant. It has excellent acoustics, gorgeous lighting, friendly staff, and delicious drinks. As far as I know, it’s also the only large concert venue in West County. That’s a big plus for music fans in Chesterfield and Creve Coeur, who usually travel to University City or downtown St. Louis and take their chances with paid parking.
It was the heart of winter, and Erin Rae and Angel Olsen gave us some much-needed warmth and light. I hope to see them both again soon. Until then, I’ll definitely keep an eye on the Factory’s concert calendar. | Rob Von Nordheim