First Aid Kit at Varsity Theater, 6/3/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Youa Vang
First Aid Kit
with Willy Mason
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Indie rock resembles classic country music more than current country music does these days. Each piece written, and even their covers, by the Söderberg sisters ties in storytelling and detail to notes that is lost in the pop country world. Younger sister Klara, on acoustic guitar, carries much of the vocals with her twang -- reminiscent of Neko Case -- and wields it like an extra instrument. Johanna, on keys, extends the harmonies and lifts the vocals to another level.

The Söderberg sisters performed as a quartet with drummer Niclas Lindstrom and a pedal steel player late Tuesday night at the Varsity Theater to a sold-out crowd. Johanna and Klara  blend delicious harmonies and have gold stage costumes that sparkle as they headbang on stage.

The lilt in their yodel-like calling on "Shattered and Hollow" tilted the song back and forth as they declared, "We're gonna get out of here." For such young songwriters, 23 and 21, Johanna and Klara pack in a lot of emotion, as if they've shouldered all of the heartache in the world by themselves. The two are excellent in delivery and sound exactly like their albums -- which was to their detriment at times.

It wasn't until almost midway through the show, when they Johanna got out from behind her keys and she and Klara took to center stage with the guitar for an acoustic version of the haunting "Ghost Town" that the night shifted. The piece plays out about wandering love and past lives that was lost over time, allowed to live via the existence of harmonies that are signature to the sisters.

Photo by Youa Vang
Although the evening was bathed in gold, "My Silver Lining" -- not to be confused with Rilo Kiley's "Silver Lining" -- helped steer the evening in another direction. The song, driven by the bass drum, showcases the new sound on their new album Cedar Lane. If their last album The Lion's Roar was built on a bed of Appalachian woodland sounds during the day, Cedar Lane is the shift to sunset and resolve at the end of the night. "Wolf" is another example in the newer sound, relying on drums to carry the bed of the song, yet Johanna's voice cuts the listener to the core with her wailing.

The most curious visual of the evening came in the form of headbanging to their indie-rock material. The question was not really can you, but should you? The answer: yes. Yes, you can. "The Lion's Roar" moved like a train just getting its rails moving, and built up to an epic chorus that has Klara wailing, "I'm a goddamn coward, but then again so are you," and Johanna pounded on the keys as her hair whipped all over the stage.

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