Last night First Aid Kit stopped into Chicago to kick off their North American tour with Dylan LeBlanc. With Kari out of town on business, I was left in charge of the photographs. I was nervous about it because I’m not nearly the photographer she is, but it turned into a really great experience. Normally when a band has the rail up and only people taking pictures are allowed in there, they have a three song duration. You have roughly ten to fifteen minutes to get all your shots for the night. If you mess up, too bad. But on this occasion the other two photographers and I were allowed to stay in the photo pit for the entire show (including encore). Well, if you’ve ever read this site before, or have checked out my Revolving Top 25, you know I’m a big fan of First Aid Kit. This opportunity was a real boon for me.
Normally when I go see a show, I can tell within a couple songs if the show is going to be good. A few months ago I saw First Aid Kit play a show at Lincoln Hall, and this show at Metro was equally good. I might actually say it was better by a slim margin. They played their cover of “America” to kick off the encore, which was an improvement over their cover of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot.” For me anyway.
They play the setlist game as well as anyone out there. The first three songs were the same at both shows I saw, and I think I’d be hard pressed to think of a better start. They open with “In The Morning,” the lead track off of their first record The Big Black And Blue. It acts as a kind of prologue to the show, opening slow and quiet as it does, and then growing more bold from start to finish. They follow that up with “Blue” off of The Lion’s Roar. To finish up that opening suite they play “Hard Believer,” which has quickly grown into my favorite song from their two records. I didn’t take any video at the show, so here’s a live version of that song from their show at Metro in August:
One thing I don’t understand is their placement of “Emmylou.” Most bands, especially bands just getting their feet on the ground, save their most popular song for the end of the main set. Both times I’ve seen First Aid Kit play it’s come right in the middle. I’d never complain because it’s a great song, but I do find it odd. Maybe more people bought that first album than I realize. When I checked out the list on the floor of the stage, I noticed that the last song of the encore was “King Of The World.” That’s how they ended at Lincoln Hall, too. But I had to wonder, would it be possible that Conor Oberst would show up to sing for the finale?
I went and saw Conor play a solo show on Saturday night at the Riverfront Theater, and Klara flew in from Sweden to join him for a couple songs. I had assumed that this would be a possibility, but didn’t get my hopes up. She came out and did the song “Southern State” and then provided the female vocals on “Lua,” originated by Gillian Welch. I didn’t catch “Lua,” but here’s the other one from Saturday night:
The lack of Oberst notwithstanding, the show was really great, and I count myself lucky to have been able to witness it in the front row (though honestly it isn’t ideal for taking pictures). The Swedish Soderberg sisters have a unique ability to make american folk music feel alive in a way most folk artists can not. Their voices sound fantastic live, and it’s nice to see them rock out on a few songs and really let loose.
After the show I waited in line for the merch table to get a poster, which they announced they would be signing after. After waiting for over half an hour I finally got up the to purchasing table, plopped down my ten bucks and got poster number 111/125. I talked with their tour manager Brandon for a minute, thanking him for setting up my photo pass, and then made my way up to say hello. The girls seemed very nice, maybe a bit tired from the horde of people who had come to meet them. I told them they put on a great show and shook their hands. I left with this:
If you’d like to see more pictures from the evening, check out the album I made on our facebook page!