It was a blistering twenty degrees in the fair city of Saint Paul last night as First Aid Kit and their friend, Van William took to the Palace Theatre. This show has been absolutely sold out for months. Frankly, the last time First Aid Kit came to town, which was 2014, it was also absolutely sold out. Van William, known for starting the band Waters, is now a solo artist. He is out promoting his debut album “Countries” which features First Aid Kit. Funny enough, First Aid Kit released their new album, “Ruins” on the same day last week.
Van William takes the stage. Van says they just drove a day and a half from Seattle to be here today. They drove in a dirty van to play their hearts out. Van drove a dirty van. I just wanted to say that again. They have a great acoustic sound. There is this great clash of rock and folk here. Definitely a little twang of country in there too.
They can be very mellow but they can rock your heart out too. I was most surprised by how powerful the sound from a three-piece could be. A great example is their song “Fourth of July” and “Never Had Enough of You In My Life.”
They do a quick thirty-minute set. The person to watch up there is definitely the bassist who gets really into hammering out the line, she makes good use of the stage. The drummer doesn’t really have to do anything fancy but get down the two and four which he does with ease.
They end on “Before I Found You”, which is probably one of my favorite tracks off his debut album. That being said, the whole album is great listen. Definitely great, chill, driving music. Van William asks the different levels to stomp the ground to get ready for the last song. They want the crowd to get ready for the kick drum. “Are you ready?” He yells. “Fuck Yeah” the crowd chants back.
At this time you realize that the theatre is very packed. The crowd goes back to the bar at the back and the aisles are starting to become difficult to navigate on each side. Some stragglers don’t want to get into the crowd just yet.
The Swedish sisters Johanna Söderberg (bass) and Klara Söderberg (guitar, lead vocals) take the stage. They are dressed in hot cherry red, it doesn’t take much to know who is running the show here. The sisters have the whole stage with three backups behind them. There is such a great upbeat vibe starting out. Very friendly. The band makes some small talk about Minnesota and the Swedish sites that they’ve seen.
They start with “Rebel Heart” and harmonize so beautifully. They are excited to share their newest album “Ruins”, a follow up to their last album “Stay Gold”. They follow up Rebel Heart with “It’s a Shame” with such a great backing of the lap guitar. About the fourth song in, “Postcard” they say it is their most “country” song, I agree it gives “My Silver Lining” a run. Perhaps, I don’t know enough about the separation of Folk and Country to actually vote on this.
There is quite a following for the sisters. Klara has such an amazing vibrato in her voice that just quivers her notes out beautifully. It echoes country to the ears, I would closely relate her voice to Dolly Parton honestly to my untrained folk ears and having listened to “Jolene” about a million times in my life. The sisters make good use of the stage.
They get to “You Are the Problem Here”, which they say was born from the frustration of the world they are living in. Tired of being afraid to put the blame where it belongs and wanting to have people open their eyes to the problems women face. The duo gets a loud cheer when they tell the crowd the duo has their backs. Such a great, powerful message. It’s why the auditorium is packed. Great sound from a great empowering voice. There is a sisterhood here.
Klara plucks into a solo by herself on the acoustic guitar. Honestly, she doesn’t really need the guitar, she has a voice that could harmonize with itself it feels. It flutters as people are quiet to listen. It’s beautiful really. The lap guitar joins in and then Johanna harmonizes into the chorus, is a really beautiful experience when songs build like that.
First Aid Kit sing wonderfully together. Accompanied by a lovely kaleidoscope-esque lighting display in the back, they really sing to you, they want you to feel the ups and downs that caused these songs to be written.
A cheer erupts at the end of the song and they play “Wolf” as the background turns into swirling wolves. they beautifully transition into “Crazy On You” by Heart, incredibly well. So damn good. It is frankly the perfect song for them. Klara can really dirty up her voice for the song, but they add such a beautiful harmonizing cover of the song it works wonderfully into their repertoire.
After a few more songs, like one of my favorites, “Emmylou”, they leave briefly and then come back pretty quickly to politely ask to play a couple more songs. They ask for some help from the audience to since the background of the song “Hem of Her Dress” and they do. Van William comes back out to a great cheer to play his song “Revolution” with the sisters. They all harmonize well with the trombone in the background. “Thanks Steve” they yell.
They finish up with “Master Pretender” and a huge ovation with their smash hit My Silver Living. Everyone loves this song. People are chanting along. The song has such a classic beauty to it. A great finisher. Well done First Aid Kit. Well done.
- Rebel Heart
- It’s a Shame
- King of the World
The Lion’s Roar
You Are the Problem Here
- To Live a Life
- Crazy on You (Heart Cover)
- Nothing Has to Be True
- Hem of Her Dress
- Revolution (Van William cover WITH Van William)
- Master Pretender
- My Silver Lining