BERKELEY'S NEWS • SEPTEMBER 26, 2022

Julien Baker, Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen enthrall with songs new, old at Greek Theatre

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ANITA LIU | STAFF

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AUGUST 04, 2022

On a Bay Area leg of the Wild Hearts Tour, the three-headed behemoth of Julien Baker, Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen graced the stage at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on July 30. The night was long, ending after four hours at about 11 p.m. with a stirring duet from Van Etten and Olsen. Despite the concert’s duration, the audience was captivated by the timeless talents of the trio, as well as by opener Quinn Christopherson.

Adorned with her signature pride guitar strap, Baker greeted early concertgoers calmly, starting things off with the soother “Sprained Ankle.” Her latest full-length LP is 2021’s Little Oblivions, which much of her rather reserved set was dedicated to. Backed by her band, Baker performed recent songs such as “Favor,” “Heatwave” and “Ringside” with remarkable poise. 

Toward the end of her tranquil set, Baker’s previously calm facial expression turned to one of panic. “Someone threw a zine and it almost fell between the stage … don’t know if anyone saw that.” Crowd work didn’t extend much beyond this, with the exception of Baker occasionally thanking the audience for showing up and clapping. 

Although her set was primarily quiet, populated by the soft crooning of Baker over an acoustic guitar, some of her newer songs stood out as more raucous. On “Ringside,” electric guitars and lively drums moored rumination over a lost relationship — “I’m holding on/ Just like a scratch off ticket/ How I dig my nails into your skin,” Baker sang with a reserved dedication.

After Baker rolled through some hits and worried over a zine, she closed her quick one-hour set with “Ziptie.”

Sharon Van Etten then took the stage. Starting things off with “Headspace” from We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, Van Etten shot a jolt of energy through the venue. Pounding her chest during “Comeback Kid,” Van Etten’s set brought a needed shift from the comparatively relaxed performances of Christopherson and Baker.

During her set, Van Etten’s shadow sprawled across the stone backdrop of the Greek Theatre. Her shadow may have reached heights of 50 feet, but it was Van Etten’s stage presence that enveloped the entirety of the theater. She passionately shadowboxed and danced her way through a set populated by a healthy mix of fan favorites such as “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” and new gems such as “Mistakes.”

Her dynamic set an evident highlight of the evening, Van Etten is an imposing performer who was destined for the large confines of the Greek. Her sound is booming and rich, but not straining –– her effortlessness purely enchanted Berkeley concertgoers. 

The night ended with Angel Olsen’s enticing set, which was composed mostly of newer songs. Touring off her country-inspired Big Time, Olsen (from Missouri, the place of the supposedly neutral American accent) at times sported a country twang in her banter to go along with the new country tunes. 

This is not to say that older tracks were abandoned in their entirety. Fan favorite “Shut Up Kiss Me” was introduced with a long prologue, featuring a promise to play a song just thought up while Olsen was trying to nap. The show ended with a spritely cover of ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me,” as Olsen and Van Etten unified to close the night’s festivities. 

Throughout the long, composed evening, Berkeley remained enraptured by the wide-ranging talents of Baker, Van Etten and Olsen. The Wild Hearts Tour shone as a jubilee of talent, filling the Greek Theatre with both serenity and vivacity.

Contact Ryan McCullough at 

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AUGUST 03, 2022


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