SXSW Live Shot: Agnes Obel

Classical Berlin spellbinder packs Central Presbyterian

Agnes Obel’s Tuesday night showcase proved that music made by women can be both fiercely feminine and deeply powerful. Every song by the Berlin-based singer sounded like a period piece, evoking the opening credits to Downton Abbey, dangerous men lurking in misty moors, and a heartbroken starlet lost on the labyrinthine streets of Paris.


by Todd V. Wolfson

Within those worlds lurks a sinister beauty lying in wait. Perhaps it’s in the form of arsenic in the perfect cup of tea, or an icepick in the ear while admiring patterns of frost on the window. It’s there, though, yielding every beautiful note fraught with tension.

In an amber-glass voice accompanied by her contemporary classical piano, Obel delivered a slightly abbreviated set, delayed by technical difficulties. Elegantly spinning ethereal songs like “Aventine” and “Dorian,” both from last year’s Aventine, she steeped them in heavy atmosphere with no small amount of drama. “On Powdered Ground,” from 2010’s Philharmonics, started out unassuming enough, before building to a frankly terrifying, thunderous crescendo that made the pews in the sanctuary vibrate again and again.

Obel and her companions on cello and violin closed out the set with “The Curse,” a bewitching, wintry tale of punishment from below. The musicians ended the song mid-phrase, breaking the spell they’d just cast on a packed Central Presbyterian Church.

READ MORE
More by Melanie Haupt
Finding Community With Bread Church
Finding Community With Bread Church
Local parish comes together around baking

July 22, 2016

What the Hell Is Mighty Swell?
What the Hell Is Mighty Swell?
Introducing the post-millennial wine cooler

July 15, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Agnes Obel, SXSW Music 2014, Downton Abbey

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)