Concert Review: Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, August 12, Massey Hall


When it was announced that Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen and Julien Baker would be touring together as the Wild Hearts tour, my friend casually dubbed it “The Sad Olympics,” which made me chuckle. After all, the three artists are known for their honest, heartfelt, and sometimes therapeutic songwriting. It would seem that touring together would only amplify some of those elements for the crowd. Sad Olympics or not, the Wild Hearts tour was a great idea as the group played two packed nights at the gorgeously renovated Massey Hall.

Due to logistical issues, the night started for me with Angel Olsen. My only real knowledge of her music going in was the song “Shut Up Kiss Me” and so I was actually expecting an almost poppy act. What I got was a much wider spectrum of music, ranging from pop to rock to even bit of a country flavor, all of which complemented her vocals. It appeared that she had faced some equipment and/or band issues on the way in, with the rest of the touring group filling in, but it didn’t seem to bother Angel, who peppered her set with a lot of light hearted banter. A major theme of the night was how much of a collaborative effort the tour was and if there’s one way to show it, it’s to have other bands play your music.

All in all, a good set.

When Sharon Van Etten first appeared on stage after a brief break, my first thought was “holy shit.” Appearing in the middle of the stage with a sparkly top and amazing lighting, I was blown away by the presentation.

It was a shock to my system because it’s been a while since I saw SVE and my lasting memories are always of her more intimate shows at Lee’s Palace. The opening track “Headspace,” off the new album We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, just sounded epic and grand with it’s dramatic chorus line (I really liked the hint of synth in the song). What’s more, Sharon’s presence and delivery of the song gave it a ‘big song’ vibe. I was like, dang, this is a star.

After a couple more songs, I was like, “Is this the new SVE experience?” However, at that exact moment the show pivoted to a more familiar feeling with the song “Come Back.” Even in the more ballady songs, the production sounded big. I was surprised that her set focused primarily on the later material but I guess given the limited set time available, decisions had to be made.

Highlights for me were what I would call reworked versions of “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” and of course, “Seventeen” which might be her most recognizable song despite only being released a few years ago

An encore brought back Angel Olsen for their hit pandemic collab “Like I Used To” and everyone left happy. Sad Olympics this was not, and post-pandemic I’m not here for that anyway.

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts

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Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.