The Wild Hearts tour finally graced the Greek Theatre this week with two back-to-back shows as Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and Julien Baker took the stage to serenade fans with their ardent songwriting. It was the kind of lineup you get once in a very blue moon — and the trio made good on giving the crowd assembled for the first of two nights at the Greek cathartic, bleeding-heart performances.
Opening the night was Julien Baker, a singer/songwriter known for her lion’s roar howl that she uses to deliver her eviscerating poetics. She never fails to elicit from any crowd stunned silence with her soul-quaking wails, but drawing largely from the heavy sonics and sonorous backing of her third album Little Oblivions, it was also a night made for shredding. Every singed riff, thunderous drum line, and stirring cry was a fervent punctuation of Baker and company’s impossible to shake passion.
By the time Angel Olsen took the Greek Theatre stage the sun had already dipped over the hills, leaving her and her band to glisten and sparkle under the stage lights. With a clarion voice and a guitar in her arms, Olsen serenaded the crowd with songs pulled across her multiple albums. Soaring harmonies and lilting instrumentals that swell in tandem with your heart as they trace terrible longings and heartache are all hallmarks of Olsen’s intoxicating ballads. Live, songs like “Big Time” and “All The Good Times” seemed to grow to colossal size as they shrouded you in their resounding tones. The twang of Olsen’s soothing croons a robust reminder of the endurance persevering behind all that weariness.
If you shed a tear during Baker’s set by the time Olsen arrived you were weeping — but when Sharon Van Etten’s set finally arrived she was ready to do both and dance. Opening with jams like the synth-shrieking “Comeback Kid” and a quick-step version of “Every Time the Sun Comes Up,” Sharon Van Etten and her band were unrelenting. Possessed by the music and droning on in her dually ethereal and sublime voice, Van Etten led by example as this kinetic force onstage. Intense eyes staring into the crowd looking for another pair to mirror her fervent energy in — this was not a set you stood still for.
Words and photos by Steven Ward