First Aid Kit released their fourth album, Ruins, in January. Since then, the Swedish sisters have been making their tour rounds, making stops at festivals like Coachella. On September 26, they made a stop at the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park. A full moon on an early fall night made for a pleasant evening of indie folk music.
When the set began, music similar to that would play from a music box sounded. The song shifted into “Distant Star” when a curtain dropped and First Aid Kit was exposed. Johanna Söderberg played bass and primarily occupied stage right, wearing an ankle-length silver flapper-like dress. To stage left, mostly, was Klara in a billowy-sleeved, embellished baby blue dress, playing guitar. Various footage projected behind them on a vast screen, and in this case, showcasing planetary images. “What’s up, L.A.,” Johanna shouted at the song’s end.
They followed with the first single from Ruins, “It’s a Shame,” with variations of a cartoonish desert and neon signs whizzing away. Then it was time for a proper introduction from Johanna. Klara said her own version of hello: “We’re playing the Greek. Holy shit!” She then introduced the next song and said, “Sometimes life is a bitch and that is what this song is about.” They played “Master Pretender.”
As sisters, Johanna and Klara offer the opportunity to watch live music between two people on another level of connection and charisma. Whether jamming or bantering, the girls’ interactions were easy and in-sync. They seamlessly bounced off of each other both chatting to the audience and playing their instruments at one another. For Klara’s sprightliness came Johanna’s sincerity. “You Are the Problem Here,” a song that poses questions to a sexual assaulter, had an epilogue. “It’s a song we sincerely wish we didn’t need to write,” Klara explained. She continued how she’s sick of being afraid and it’s always the victim, not the perpetrator, of sexual assault that gets asked questions. “That’s bullshit… the blame and the shame always, always, always belongs to the perpetrator.” She began to switch to a lighter note, but Johanna mentioned, “It’s great to be angry sometimes.” Klara continued to aim for a lighthearted note by saying some things are nice, such as their new EP “Tender Offerings,” which released September 14.
When Klara introduced the name of the next song from the EP, “Ugly,” chuckles rang out. It was a good attempt to switch into singing about something nice. Nevertheless, the song’s delivery juxtaposed that of its name. The stage glowed pink for the softer song, matching the vulnerability of both the song and their voices. They sang, “I thought if you found me pretty then I’ll be fine.” Throughout the set, the Söderbergs sang with a crispness and clarity known to folk music, but their harmonies constantly swelled in a display of strength.
In a moment of admitted indulgence, Johanna said, “We thought we’d sing our all-time favorite song.” They explained their favorite version of “After the Gold Rush” to be a cover by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. To complete their trio, Julia Jacklin, one of their supporting acts, came to help. The composition was simple, with just a piano playing, allowing them to show off their voices. Next came another change of pace. Klara instructed that “the point of this is we come together and sing like a drunken choir” for “Hem of Her Dress.”
The Söderbergs and their band exited after “Nothing Has to Be True.” While gone, a pulse-like sound hummed and a red apple-type shape projected on the screen. When First Aid Kit returned, the shape transformed into a heart for none other than “Rebel Heart.” After “Fireworks,” Johanna and Klara switched their instruments. A slowed, wonky twang intro played into “My Silver Lining.” The groovy country-tinged tune led to a choral clapping. “Come on L.A.,” Klara encouraged. When the song ended, confetti fluttered down and First Aid Kit bowed.
- Distant Star
- It’s a Shame
- Master Pretender
- Stay Gold
- The Lion’s Roar
- You Are the Problem Here
- After the Gold Rush (Neil Young cover)
- Hem of Her Dress
- King of the World
- Nothing Has to Be True
- Rebel Heart
- My Silver Lining
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna