Tag Archives: Grace Slick

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Angel Olsen Displays Her Powers at Warsaw on Sunday Night

September 19th, 2016

Angel Olsen – Warsaw – September 18, 2016

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

Angel Olsen wields the superpower of having one of the most dynamic voices in music. Not only that, but her songwriting puts it all to damn good use. Her latest release, the much-acclaimed My Woman, further pushes her sound into every direction. Sometimes it’s poppier, sometimes more mellow, louder and/or softer. Call it her slow takeover of the entire musical canon. Olsen and Co. came to Brooklyn’s the Warsaw on Sunday night, her second of two local weekend shows. Olsen’s backing band, sporting adorable matching gray suits with bolo ties, featured some welcome new additions. Mount Moriah’s Heather McEntire may be one of the few voices out there with the chops to sing backing vocals for Olsen. Their Southern-inspired outfits seemed fitting for the barn-stomping, rockabilly-tinged set openers, “Never Be Mine” and “Hi-Five.” All three guitarists came out swinging as the slow-burning “Sister” worked toward its fiery crescendo.

At the opposite end of things, “Acrobat,” usually already a sparse song, was stripped bare even of its rhythm, making a brooding number sound all the more haunted. With its lurching momentum, the shape-shifting melody was left to wax and wane as Olsen saw fit, belting through lines like “I am alive” before lingering on “I thought I had died.” It remains one of her best songs, made all the better by her continual experimentation with its arrangement. She makes it all look easy to boot. “Windows” showcased vocals reminiscent of Stevie Nicks’ raspy warmth. The following song, “Not Gonna Kill You,” brought out the fever-pitch psychedelic sharpness that could be mistaken for Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick. The encore kicked off with the bright and moody “Intern.” And for all the range displayed within the main set, the song still felt like a counterpoint, replacing drums and guitars for keyboards and synths. Just when you thought she was done conquering the musical landscape, there was still more stones left unturned. You can call this rock and roll. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

 

 

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The Bowery Ballroom Gets Hit by a Force of Nature

August 31st, 2015

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – The Bowery Ballroom – August 28, 2015

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The giant image of a clearing in the woods—echoing the album cover of Nicki Bluhm’s new LP, Loved Wild Lost—that hung at the back of the stage on Friday night added a touch of mystery to The Bowery Ballroom. But there was nothing mysterious about Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers’ appeal as they easily won over the crowd with a high-energy performance of originals and covers. Before they took the stage, Andrew Combs offered an excellent opening set of country music unleashed. Playing songs like “Slow Road to Jesus” and “Suwannee County” off his new album, All These Dreams, Combs and his band mixed harmonies and groovy playing to get the audience warmed up and then some.

Afterward, Bluhm followed her bandmates onstage, immediately a towering presence standing there in a low-cut white jumpsuit, her hair blown constantly by a fan. The ’70s-sex-appeal look matched her voice and the band’s sound, which straddled country, rock and soul with natural ease. They opened with “Heart Gets Tough,” off the new album, Bluhm belting out the lyrics while the Gramblers settled in. Throughout the set, she was a powerful mix of Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin, shining on the high-energy, high-volume material like “Mr. Saturday Night,” and just as powerful on the quiet, tender side, on songs like “Only Always.” The Gramblers were a seasoned complement, a rocking force that allowed Bluhm to strut and dance around the stage, picking up strategically placed tambourines and other percussion instruments along the way.

Bluhm and the Gramblers are well-known for their Van Sessions—online videos of covers performed while on the road—so it’s no surprise that the show featured several great picks, including a this-song-is-a-perfect-fit rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” was done acoustically in front of a single microphone, country meeting funk and getting along swimmingly. Afterward, when everyone moved to go back to their original spots onstage, Bluhm was having none of it: She called them back for a fun sing-along take on the Grateful Dead’s “Deal.” Later, they invited Combs and his entire band out for a hootenanny of a jam session on Gram Parsons’ “Ooh Las Vegas.” Still, Bluhm and Co. weren’t yet finished, saving their best all-out rocking and jamming for the show’s final stretch, which included a romp on “Little Too Late” and Andy Falco sitting in on a double-guitar, Allman Brothers–esque take on “Jetplane,” before finally ending the set with “Kill You to Call,” Bluhm at full strength, a force of nature that the Gramblers were only barely able to corral. —A. Stein | @Neddyo