It’s been far too long since the sweet sounds of Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit were heard live in Philadelphia. The band — led by sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg — celebrated the release of their last album Stay Gold with a Union Transfer show in 2014, and shortly after their dazzling 2015 XPN Fest appearance, announced they’d be taking a break before working on new material.
That break ended a few weeks ago, when First Aid Kit let their new single “It’s a Shame” out into the world. With a forthcoming LP yet to be announced, the sisters have been making a few stops around the US to share some of their new material, and lucky for us they found time to stop by World Cafe Live this afternoon for a sold out Free at Noon concert.
First Aid Kit’s eight-song set was a carefully curated mix of old favorites and previews of what the new album will bring. The timeless, Americana-inspired anthem “It’s a Shame” has been floating around the XPN airwaves quite a bit recently, so the packed World Cafe crowd was right at home when the band opened with the new song. The Söderberg sisters then took us back to the warm and inviting sounds of Stay Gold with that album’s soft and shimmering title track, leading the audience in clapping along, before launching into the not-yet-released “Postcard,” a delicate ballad with a classic country sound that showcases the duo’s signature sibling harmonies.
Klara and Johanna have often talked about how their distinctive sound is influenced by traditional country and Americana tunes of days past, and while what we’ve heard of the new album promises to continue to draw on those sounds, First Aid Kit’s appreciation for the genre comes through strongest on “Emmylou,” the breakout track from 2012’s The Lion’s Roar. Cheers erupted as soon as the audience recognized the familiar opening chords, and the crowd couldn’t help but sing along to the chorus, which pays tribute to legendary artists Emmylou Harris, June Carter, Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash.
First Aid Kit’s set took a more serious turn with fiery protest song “You Are The Problem Here,” released earlier this year on International Women’s Day. Guitarist Klara took a moment to explain the song, which the duo wrote as an enraged and impassioned response to their anger “after reading about yet another rape case where the perpetrator was handed a sentence which did not at all reflect the severity of his crime,” as they articulated in a Facebook post back in March.
First Aid Kit wrapped up their set with another new song, “Fireworks,” which bassist Johanna promised was not a Katy Perry cover, and indulged the crowd in a spirited and drawn-out version of “My Silver Lining” before taking some full-band bows to roaring applause.
Check out photos from the set below. First Aid Kit will be back in the states in the new year for a proper tour, including a stop at Union Transfer on Feb. 10 — it’s a ways off, but you may want to get tickets sooner rather than later. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Van William, who released “Revolution” with First Aid Kit earlier this year, will open the show. Find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar.
It’s a Shame
The Lion’s Roar
You Are The Problem Here
My Silver Lining
First Aid Kit