Van William and First Aid Kit @ Fox Theatre in Oakland, CA
Review & Photography by: Robert Alleyne
Swedish indie-folk band First Aid Kit kicked off their world tour at Oakland’s Fox Theater on Wednesday, January 24th. Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg have become known for their dreamy folk-indie sound – soaring vocal melodies matched with intricate guitars has helped the band to grow into one beloved by lovers of folk/ country music on both sides of the Atlantic. The sounds and visuals projected behind them transported the sold-out crowd to a different place throughout the hour and a half set. There were a few moments, however, where the band stepped out of this mold to dramatic effect.
A ferocious, and powerful rendition of “You Are The Problem Here” will live long in the memory. The song, released in 2017 on International Women’s Day, was a response to the pair reading “about yet another rape case where the perpetrator was handed a sentence which did not at all reflect the severity of his crime,” they said in a statement accompanying its release. The song opens with great impact, “I am so sick and tired of this world / All these women with their dreams shattered / From some man’s sweaty, desperate touch / God damn it, I’ve had enough,” and it continues to discuss what so many women have been empowered to speak about over the past few months.
“I have to take a second,” said Klara Söderberg after signing the record, “I get so angry when I sing that song.” The song has become even more relevant following the growth of the Me Too movement throughout 2017. “We’re fucking sick of being afraid! Men who do things like that are not going to get away with it,” she continued to one of the biggest cheers of the night. You Are The Problem Here, is entirely different from much of the music which dominates their latest release, Ruins, and it made for an impassioned and compelling moment.
The band followed this with a beautifully sparse rendition of “To Live A Life.” The emotional contrasts between these two songs made for a highly emotive moment in the show. The beauty of the lyrics served to soothe some of the pain and anguish of the everyday realities of life where sexual harassment, and predation are far too frequent. It was a moment of beauty to remind the room that things may turn out okay.
A fun rendition of Heart’s “Crazy on You” provided a moment of fun abandon, and their performance of “Emmylou” tugged firmly at the heartstrings; the accompanying video of the sisters on tour doing its best to communicate and deliver on the importance of friendship. Looking around you could see friends holding each other a little closer, and then, when asked, the crowd obliged in singing the chorus back in perfect harmony.
First Aid Kit started the Ruins Tour on the right foot. Beautiful harmonies, patient music, and moments of emotional power made for a relevant, soothing, and highly urgent night of music. You can visit the band’s website down below to see if they’re coming to a city near you. http://www.firstaidkitband.com