Newport Folk Festival: First Aid Kit

Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit stopped by Newport for a set at the intimate Harbor stage on Saturday afternoon. Johanna and Klara Soderberg garnered a mass of attention from Newport goers and filled the tent beyond capacity long before the two stepped on stage. The crowd, with loud cheers, warmly welcomed the band.

The Soderberg sisters have such a coy charm about them that lies somewhere between their colorfully stitched sundresses and winding vocal harmonies. If anyone in the audience had not known their music prior, they surely had fallen in love by the end of the set.

One highlight track was, of course, “Emmylou” off of The Lion’s Roar as it’s been in constant rotation at WERS. If possible, Klara’s vocals sounded even sweeter in person as she sang, “No, I’m not asking much of you. Just sing, little darling sing with me.”

The audience was treated to a Joan Baez cover by the Soderberg sisters of “Diamonds and Rust.” Johanna and Klara’s vocals were particularly haunting and beautiful on this track as they credited Baez as a great influence and inspiration to them both. They certainly did Baez justice with their rendition, as I’m sure the whole audience would agree.

The two started making music together in 2007 and have come a long way since they got their start with a YouTube video hit when they covered Fleet Foxes “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.” As of now, their sophomore album The Lion’s Roar off of Wichita Records went straight to the top of the charts in both Sweden and the UK.

Other stand out tracks in the set covered a majority of The Lion’s Roar including “Blue” and “To a Poet.” When the Soderbergs began “King of the World,” everyone was too entranced by their performance to know what surprise was in store. Shrill cheers arose from the crowd as Conor Oberst joined the sisters on stage for his solo at the end of the track. Oberst belted along with the lyrics, “I’m nobody’s baby/I’m everybody’s girl/I’m the queen of nothing/I’m the king of the world.”

Oberst is notorious for making guest appearances in his friendss sets – while his personal set is scheduled for tomorrow evening on the main stage, we can only speculate who may show up on stage with him. Stay tuned to our live coverage of the rest of the festival to see what happens!

By Jeeyoon Kim

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