Walking into First Aid Kit’s show at Mercury Lounge, you knew that you were going to hear amazing harmonies from the two folk singing Swedish sisters, Johanna and Klara Soderberg.  What you didn’t know was that the harmonies would be so perfect and so crystal clear, that it would leave the audience frozen during the whole show.  Very rarely have I ever been to a concert where people stood still, in awe of musicians who did not use any fancy lighting or lasers to keep the audience’s attention.

With a Swedish film crew at the show, the sisters were intent on providing a memorable show with backstories to some of the songs and some humor to keep the crowd from being bulldozed with each song’s emotional weight.  Surprisingly, the band played only a few songs off of their debut album, The Big Black & Blue (which I’ll be reviewing at a later date), and focused more on b-sides, songs from their EP, Drunken Trees, and songs from their upcoming album, Lion’s Roar, coming out in early 2012.

The two young women stood front and center the entire show, with one working piano and the other an acoustic guitar.  Each song was simple and pure, clean and affecting.  They engaged the audience constantly, whether it was to jokingly tell us to behave for the camera crew, or assure us that the song Waltz for Richard, had absolutely nothing to do with Richard Gere…maybe. The songs seemed reminiscent live as though the Soderberg sisters were singing about cherished old memories.

The songs from the new album were easily identifiable since they were produced in the U.S. and had more complex arrangements and a more uptempo, commercially appealing sound.  The perfect example was Lion’s Roar, the last song of the show, which is the title track of their sophomore album.  They rocked out to this song, hair whipping…unlike anything they’ve done before.

However, the highlight of the show was Ghost Town (below) where the sisters stepped away from the microphones to sing this sad, somber song.  In any other venue with any other audience, it would be difficult, if not impossible to hear Johanna and Klara, but at Mercury Lounge, with this audience, the vocals of this talented young duo were heard loud and clear.  It wasn’t long before the entire crowd joined in the song, making it feel like we were all part of the band. It is songs – and shows – like this that remind you how personal and intimate music can be.

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