There’s a line on “It’s a Shame,” a single from First Aid Kit’s most recent album, Ruins, in which the two Söderberg sisters lament, “Sometimes the night cuts through me like a knife.” Sunday night at The Pageant was just as sharp. After an electrifying opening set from British singer-songwriter Jade Bird, who brought the entire audience to raucous applause with magnificent songs like “Lottery,” “Good Woman” and “Uh Huh,” Klara and Johanna Söderberg strode onto the stage and took the reins of the night.
The sisters have an undeniable stage presence, which was only bolstered by the intimacy of the St. Louis venue. They prowled around the stage, flushed and awash in lights of violet, scarlet and gold. They ripped through the anger-driven, guitar-thrashing numbers of “You Are the Problem Here” and Heart’s “Crazy on You,” and softly serenaded us with wistful songs like “Postcard” and “To Live a Life.” Highlights include the vivid emotion and seamless harmonies that marked every song, the astral-themed background screen projected during “Master Pretender” and the appearance of Samantha Crain, who was brought onstage as a guest singer during a cover of Willy Mason’s “Waiter at the Station.”
The poetry of the band’s lyrics, spanning from Ruins all the way back to 2012’s The Lion’s Roar, buffeted us through the night and nudged all of the time that was passing into the background. We were kings of the world. We stayed gold. We roared like lions and burst like fireworks. And we asked ourselves, and each other, question after question — First Aid Kit’s music invites the listener to investigate the self, to delve into the colors that lie between the past, the present and the future — “Who have I become? / Who will I be / Come tomorrow?”
— Laura Dzubay, Daily Arts Writer
The Söderberg sisters have just as much growl as they do grace. They played a cover of Heart’s “Crazy on You” that I can only imagine Jack Black circa 2003 would call “gut-busting.” Lightning moves through them in every chord they play, every rasp they let slip and the power that they hold in being women who sing what they sing and do what they do is utterly savory. They played Heart, for Christ’s sake, and “Crazy on You” may as well have been “Rebel Heart” (from their latest album, Ruins). That’s no small feat, but it doesn’t even feel like a triumph because that’s just them. This music and these lyrics are who they are, through and through.
Cutting butter with a steak knife, they played a stripped-down “Hem of Her Dress” and smirked through, “Her eyes are a golden hue / and everything you knew / slips away at the hem of her dress.” We stumbled over one another as we sang along, “La-da-da-da-da-da,” and we found a solace in collectively exhaling as we each surrendered to our own currents.
The whole night played out like this — an inhale of the smoke rising around us and an immediate release from it. The merciless “You Are the Problem Here” (which is more a curtsy to #MeToo than a nod) was met with the careful carelessness of “King of the World.” They giggle through the haze of growing up in a cruel world and saunter through the sting of living in it: “I’m nobody’s baby / I’m everybody’s girl / I’m the queen of nothing / I’m the king of the world.”
— Arya Naidu, Senior Arts Editor