We caught the Swedish folk / Americana / roots sound duo, The First Aid Kit. With their twisting and winding harmonies, obvious polish, and sublime vocals, it was a really great show to see.
We had never been to this venue and it was quite nice in terms of service, acoustics, and location. It was a bit funny to walk through a neighborhood in East Williamsburg to suddenly come across a giant warehouse with musical acts in it. It was a great spot and reminded me a lot of the Electric Lounge of Austin’s history.
A real perk is that the closest subway stop, Graham Ave. has a host of really nice dining options. We had Thai at “Hi Noodle” and for < $40 had beers and worthy Thai dinners. Check it out!
The opening act was Julia Jacklin, from the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. She had a wonderful Neko Case / Patsy Cline vibe. She’s a really talented artist and I would you to sample her work. Here’s her track “Pool Party.”
Before the Show
Lauren and found a good spot near stage right and knew we had a good view. After Julia Jacklin finished her opening, we eased forward and had a chance to talk to our neighbors.
Behind us was a lovely woman from Ohio whose son and daughter-and-law had bought her tickets and brought her out to the show. The son and daughter-in-law were very young, very smiley and very beautiful together. I can only imagine that they felt the intense, burnished pride of having done something very nice for someone who was going to get to experience something special. Every time Lauren and I looked back at her she was grinning ear-to-ear with glee. It was really special and pretty typical of what the whole night was like: people made way for another, people held the door for Lauren when she went to fetch drinks, there were smiles and kindness all around. For whatever reason, these sisters wove a different mentality and place around us in this warehouse in Brooklyn.
The Ohioan told us that she’d discovered FAK’s music a few years back on a thing called “Pandora” (did either of us know it?). We assured her we did and we also found the band on that station. She shared a love of Patti Griffin, folk singing, and wonderful harmonies. It was awesome to meet others who were so excited.
First Aid Kit
Photos are thumbnails, higher definition (phone!) pictures are available by clicking
1. “Distant Star”
The show opened somewhat serenely with this song. After a good dose of liquid fog had been poured the stage lights came up and the band found position.
2. “It’s a Shame”
My current favorite song. It has that whooshy, wonderful Wurlitzer organ-like accompaniment that instantly reminds me of Dylan’s “How Does It Feel?” But with beautiful songbird voices covering the vocal range and a compelling gallop-beat.
3. “Master Pretender”
Keeping in the gallop-beat range a structurally similar song kept the energy up. It also featured some fun animation in the backing eye-candy. It showed driving through the southwest to a city off in the distance. A double-dose of gallop beat songs naturally gets me thinking about crossing the deserts on the I80 or I10 (as this site records I have done multiple times).
4. “Stay Gold”
5. “The Lion’s Roar”
6. “You Are the Problem Here”
This song really got to showing how far Klara’s guitar playing has advanced. She’s always been commendable as an acoustic-and-capo finger-picking folk singer, but this rocker of, dare I say, an anthem against rape culture, let her loose on an electric. She was very confident and recalled some of Neil Young’s style of electric-folk.
As yet unreleased! First time played live!
8. “Ghost Town”
“Ghost Town” was stellar, I really can’t say anything else about how wonderfully and tenderly they performed this haunting number.
9. “Hem of Her Dress”
This is such a fun song and it closes with a loose chorale of what sounds like, well, drunken revelry singing along to a folk song that everyone the pub knows. The sisters confirmed that this exactly what it’s meant to sound like. They took to a microphone at the front of the stage and sang the body of the song. But their musicians joined in as the song called for trombone, then mandolin, then carried tom-tom drum. At the conclusion the band members were all standing there on the foot, improvising over the chorale, led by the sisters and filled by the audience. It was a very uplifting and joyful moment.
10. “King of the World”
The hit, “Emmylou” was presented beautifully and we could hear the sisterhood as they sang a song about those with whom you create, and love, and write. During this song the sisters had pictures of them projected. It was wonderfully intimate and it felt as though the audience was being invited to know them in a more personal and vulnerable place. It rendered the touching song warmly, weepingly gentle. Klara’s interlude before the final verse which is her sweet, clear voice and her solo guitar held the hall in silent reverence.
13. “Nothing Has to Be True”
14. “Rebel Heart”
The thick drumming on this song really comes through in live performance and recalls the muscular album rock sound of Mick Fleetwood on “Rumours.”
16. “My Silver Lining”
A highlight of the show was seeing how the voices of the sisters work together. Our spot was directly before Johanna Soderberg (reflected in the poorer quality photos I snagged of her sister, Klara).
While Klara’s bluegrass, voice-crack, upper-register work is consistently a dominant feature of their songs’ harmonies, it’s Johanna’s lower-register voice that adds the harmonies’ strength and richness. I have to wonder about the decision of the lower-register to also hold the bass guitar. It’s like she’s trying to own the Earth somehow.
An interesting interplay, and this is captured in my photos below, is that during her rests, Johanna seems to be literally “feeling” the music. Her hand gestures are not affectation, she’s sensing vibrations or something like it and letting it reverberate inside so that she can join it. I love seeing artists interpret reality through their uniquely-honed senses.
It was a really excellent show and I’d encourage anyone to go see this duo live.