Quantcast
A FIRST AID KIT FOR WHAT AILS US

In these galling times, as we watch a cabal of old men from the world of politics conspire against the rights of women and gaslight us all about the reality of sexual assault, there’s a greater need than ever for an opposite sort of energy from the world of art.

On 9/26, at L.A.’s Greek Theatre, before a laid-back crowd of hipster fans who nursed craft beers and vaped discreetly, two sisters generated just that energy.

Columbia’s First Aid Kit, touring in support of gorgeous new EP Tender Offerings, didn’t get to their raucous “protest song” about sexual assault, last year’s “You Are the Problem Here,” until halfway through the show, and the furious, cranked-up rocker, with its tagline, "I hope you fucking suffer," had the crowd roaring. But "Problem," sounds like it could've been written about Brett Kavanaugh, couldn't be more timely (spin it now and I'll bet the reaction will be huge). The song was followed by some fiery words from lead singer/guitarist Klara Söderberg—slightly paraphrased here for lack of a transcript: “We want to ask perpetrators, ‘Why would you do this to another human being?’ Instead of asking victims, ‘What were you wearing?’ ‘Were you drinking?’ As if it was probably their fault. THAT’S BULLSHIT.”

Take that, Senator Grassley.

The band let that righteous indignation resonate for a moment before Klara’s sister, Johanna (who rocked the bass and lead/harmony vocals), offered dryly, “OK, back to being sad.”

These singing sisters hail from Sweden and worship Emmylou Harris. I first discovered them (thanks to KCSN) in 2014, when their superb set Stay Gold dropped. Their songs tend to be folky, intimate, and yes, a bit on the melancholy side, with sturdy, singalong hooks and that tight harmonic interplay sibling duos seem to have in their chromosomes.

This subgenre of music sounds very pretty in recordings, earns some syncs on heartfelt TV shows and sometimes comes off as “sleepy” in concert. Not so here. The Söderberg sisters keep the live energy bubbling even during the quietest moments, and their sheer enthusiasm (they made no secret about their giddiness at headlining the Greek) is infectious. At times they suggest a rootsy version of Heart’s Wilson sisters, though their sensibility is entirely different.

And those songs: the rapturous “Stay Gold,” the endearing “Emmylou,” the heartbreaking “Fireworks,” the bouncy "King of the World," the purposeful "Rebel Heart" and the darkly yearning “My Silver Lining” were among the highlights, along with a couple of new ones, notably the gently anthemic “Ugly.” (Opener Julia Jacklin came out to join the sisters for a “cover of a cover,” a dreamy recreation of Trio’s take on Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.”)  FAK’s material is remarkably consistent and virtually 100% singalong-worthy. Their three backup musicians (drums, pedal steel/electric and keyboards/trombone) offered stellar support.

But the sisters held the spotlight, and did so with finesse, bite and humor. Could they be on the verge of having a larger cultural moment, given the political mobilization of women now underway? Sure, the Greek is a big deal. But bigger things surely await them.

THE BIZ SALUTES
JOE SMITH
Celebrating the life of the Toastmaster General (12/5a)
JEFF VAUGHN NAMED PRESIDENT, CAPITOL RECORDS
Climbing the Tower (12/3a)
YOUR TOP 20 IS BOTH ICY AND POST-TOASTY
Actually, we'd prefer a bowl of oatmeal. (12/5a)
JAY-Z CELEBRATES 50 WITH A RETURN TO SPOTIFY
Has the Tidal turned? (12/4a)
GRAMMY CHEW: WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE, ANYWAY?
Those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it. (12/5a)
EGGNOG!
Ours is mostly bourbon.
MISTLETOE!
Delicious in salads.
CHESTNUTS!
Ours are roasting, but it could be these slim-fit jeans.
WEED!
An entire Christmas tree made of it. Is what we want for Christmas.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)