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First Aid Kit At Way Over Yonder Festival, Sunday October 6th 2013

Klara Sodenberg

 

Just before Conor Oberst, the two sisters of First Aid Kit, Klara and Johanna Söderberg, brought their magical charm on the stage of the Way Over Yonder festival, and really blew away the crowd with their harmony galore. You are gonna say, it has been done before, do we really need this American folk revival by two Swedish underage girls? And I say totally! These two women may find total inspiration in American folk and country, from the Carter Family to Gram Parsons, but it’s done with such talent and heart that it couldn’t just pass for amateurish homage. The sisters have developed their own thing and style, with catchy melodies, mature compositions and lyrics, and these voices, harmonizing with perfect pitch.

Plus, everyone wants a piece of the Soderberg sisters these days, they were approached by Jack White to record a single for his Third Man Records, they are regularly called on stage to perform ‘Lua’ with Bright Eyes, and their last album was produced by Mike Mogis himself. On stage, they have a charming presence and a great assurance, way beyond their very young age: 20-year-old Klara sings lead for most of the songs while playing guitar and 23-year-old Johanna plays keyboard while constantly harmonizing with her sister, giving an ethereal dimension to their compositions.

Their long set sounded effortless and the crowd around me was 100% with them, as I was constantly hearing people commenting with ‘amazing’ or other in-awe-declarations. After a few songs, the two sisters went very talkative, declaring with a smile, they were going to play sad songs because they hated life. The songs were coming mostly from their 2012 release, ‘The Lion’s Roar’, but there were also a few covers. Mid-set they announced they wanted to cover a song by the greatest songwriter of the world, and then a fan girl in the pit started to scream ‘Conor Obeeeeerst!!’ Actually, Klara and Johanna weren’t talking about Conor but about Paul Simon, and they started playing a beautiful rendition of ‘America’, a song, they explained later, they had performed in front of the man himself at Paul Simon’s award ceremony for a Polar Music prize. Understandably, they were narrating their experience with great excitement, ‘We played the song in front of him,… he is a sweet little dude, he totally is!’ Simon of course told them he liked their version — which embodied the song so well with a First Aid Kit’s own touch — and the opposite would have been really surprising. They also covered ‘ One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)’ and Dylan had never sounded so good.
 

When they performed their buoyant ‘Emmylou’, their most obvious homage to June Carter and Emmylou Harris, the song became a powerful and poignant sing-along incited by the sisters and revealing how many people the song had reached. Conor joined them on stage for the animated but still very harmonious  ‘King of the World’, singing the same part he does on the record. The whole thing was done with so much candor everyone around me sounded happy, I would not be surprised if we hear about them for a long time, the two Swedish sisters who have fallen in love with American music, have now completely seduced America. 

Setlist

Blue
Hard Believer
This Old Routine
Waitress Song
Master Pretender
America (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Wolf
One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)
(Bob Dylan cover)
Emmylou
Heaven Knows
The Lion’s Roar
King of the World



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