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The Loop

Published: 2012/08/08
by Dave Smith

First Aid Kit at Newport Folk

In a festival marked by the number of collaborations and surprise sit-ins, one, if not the highlight of Saturday’s Harbor Stage performances was the Newport Folk Festival debut of the Swedish folkers First Aid Kit. Touring in support of their sophomore effort “The Lion’s Roar”, sisters Klara Soderberg on acoustic guitar and Johanna Soderberg on keyboards charmed the over-capacity crowd at the intimate confines of the Harbor Stage with a set that featured crystal clear vocals, a whimsically savvy stage presence and dense harmonic balance.

The band opened up with “This Old Routine” followed by “Blue” to the overwhelming approval of the crowd and their sincere thanks and smiles spoke to their joy at playing at a festival steeped in musical history. A stirring cover of Joan Baez’s “Diamonds & Rust” as well as their original “Emmylou” served as loving paens to the players of the past and helped to reinforce with the audience a shared love and reverence for folk music. The set was near magic with its balance of plaintive yet coy emotional power. The duo held the audience completely in their grasp during this transportive set. An almost hypnotic choreography was achieved as the sisters, clad in colorful sundresses, sang while whipping their hair in time with their music.

First Aid Kit closed things out with the anthemic “King of the World” as Conor Oberst joined Klara on mic in the first of his many sit-ins during the weekend. Oberst, looking feral and wiry spat out the lyrics to his solo as Klara sang along. “Watch it all go down like a stone in a stream, If you fall for your reflection you will drown in a dream”. This was a fitting end for such a misty and pensive set. If the pair are asked to return next year, they are destined for main stage grandeur.

Setlist: This Old Routine, Blue, Hard Believer, Our Own Pretty Ways, Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez), To a Poet,
Wolf/When I Grow Up (Fever Ray), Emmylou, I Met up With the King, The Lion’s Roar, King of The
World (with Conor Oberst)

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