h

First Aid Kit charmed gig-goers with their wholesome, acoustic-led songs at the Croxton Bandroom

Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg have proven their sincerity after initial quips of appropriating classic Americana. Touring in support of their fourth album Ruins, First Aid Kit have proven that folk can still tug at the heart strings.

  • }
Image source: 
Zo Damage

Supporting them was Australian local Stella Donnelly, who has the humorous observational eye of Courtney Barnett and backs up her wry remarks with a superb vocal range and intricate guitar licks akin to Laura Marling. Donnelly has the potential to be like many other people who perform solo with a guitar, however her semi-awkward on-stage banter is as endearing as it is delightful. Her charm is infectious and it translates so effortlessly into the songs she sings with coy self-awareness. Riffing on herself and punctuating her set with anecdotes about the autobiographical nature of the songs, whether singing about a bad Tinder date (‘Should’ve Stayed at Home’) or working a dodgy bar job (‘Mechanical Bull’), Donnelly belongs in that delicate realm of charming without being gratuitous.

Donnelly is a local treasure and a perfect opening act for First Aid Kit. Thematically, a haunting track titled ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is explained as a song written about a friends experience with sexual assault, and how victim blaming dictates societal narratives in regards to these issues. It’s an incredible centrepiece to a set book-ended with charm and humour, and compliments First Aid Kit’s message in their set when they perform ‘You are the Problem Here’. Stella Donnelly was a wonderful support, and without a doubt stole many hearts among the audience. 

First Aid Kit open their show with Ruins’ grandiose opener ‘Rebel Heart’. In what is ostensibly a break-up album, Klara sings through a clenched jaw about the bad habits that a heart may still desire. First Aid Kit’s music has always balanced a woozy sense of melancholy, however there is an aura of pain and healing with Ruins which implies something more personal than prior releases. Continuing on with a muscular rendition of ‘It’s A Shame’, it’s clear that the longevity of First Aid Kit has proven how ambitious they continue to be.

Even the whimsy of older hits such as ‘The Lion’s Roar’ or ‘Stay Gold’ sound slightly weightier, with the sisters harmonies as angelic as ever, and with songs both old and new they turn these songs of pain into places of solidarity. Singing with their Scandi-southern twangs now reads as dedication to a genre they adore than a gimmick, and with their enraged and empowered harmonies over their single ‘You Are The Problem Here’, in which they call out toxic masculine behaviour and sexual assault, you can see Klara relish in the line “I hope you fucking suffer”.

Johanna and Klara are wonderfully warm and receptive to the crowd. Thanking and bowing in between songs with beaming smiles on their faces. There’s a real appreciation for the work they get to do and for the audience that they have garnered over the years, and the semi-confidence they have when remarking on their latest album is solidified with the wonderful reception it receives. The track ‘Fireworks’ gets requested by a fan early in the evening, and as they get closer towards the end of the set, the sisters dedicate the song to the warm heckler as a sign of appreciation. They are professional people-pleasers, and they’re very good at it. First Aid Kit will always remain sepia-tinged romantics, and closing out with ‘Silver Lining’ they demonstrate why their blend of Americana folk-pop is so heartwarming even in a modern world. 

Highlight: 'You Are the Problem Here' and crowd singalong to 'Emmylou'.
Lowlight: A couple sound hiccups during the start of the start of the set. They were quickly resolved though.
Crowd favourite: 'Fireworks', 'Emmylou' and 'Silver Lining'.