Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's Day with First Aid Kit

We grew spoiled our last couple of years in Berkeley. Among other ways (eating out whenever we pleased being chief among them), we got used to seeing great concerts quite regularly. In 2010 alone we went to She & Him, Band of Horses, Jonsi, the Bridge Benefit Concert, and Lilith Fair, just off the top of my head. As far as we're concerned, there is no better way to spend an evening.

Since we've lived in Germany, we've longed to go to concerts in Paris, Brussels, Berlin--but haven't been able to get over paying three times the cost of the tickets for transportation, not to mention lodging. So when we found out we could see a group we love in Cologne and pay just the same amount for the train as for the tickets, we jumped at the chance. As an added bonus, the concert happened to be on Valentine's Day, which saved us from spending what's supposed to be a romantic evening on our couch watching The Wire.

Of course, the real inducement to go out in the cold and rain was the band: a duo of Swedish sisters who call themselves First Aid Kit. My friend Barbara introduced them to me on our second-to-last day in Berkeley with this gorgeous cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song":

If you're thinking, "Wow, they look really young," it's because they are. They recorded that video in 2008 at the ages of 15 and 18. During the concert, one sister recalled a previous trip to Cologne a couple of years ago. "I remember they put "First Aid Kid" on the poster. That happens a lot for some reason." The other quipped, "I don't know why. We're not kids." At 18 and 21, they are still baby faced:



How did we get such excellent pictures? By standing right up against the stage! It was a small venue and a very low stage. I'd never been that close before, but I highly recommend it.

About halfway through the concert they came right up to the front of the stage to play "Ghost Town" without mics or an amp, and asked everyone to sing along. Since we've been listening to their first album somewhat obsessively since we moved to Aachen, I knew almost all the words. It was pretty magical.


We didn't record the performance, but here's the song in its studio version:

Many of the songs they played were from their second album, which came out in January. I've been listening to this song, "Emmylou," on repeat. I cried when they played it.

What I love most about them is how they really sing. They use some vocal effects for expression, yes, but mostly they just pour out these beautiful, beautiful voices. I found it very affecting to watch. Here are a couple of cool action shots by Tyler.

These hippie dresses looked even uglier in person.
 On a couple of songs they headbanged their long hippie hair all over the place. It was cute.
Last (and admittedly least) on the list of the concert's joys: they spoke English. Flawless, American-accented English. Understanding the introductions and humorous asides at a public event without any effort was truly luxurious.

P.S. This post wasn't intended to be an ad, but it came out sounding like one. I can't help it. I think they're really, really awesome, and they're only going to get better. Yay.


  1. I loved this post! I had actually never heard of them...this is great music! But I especially loved your comments about watching The Wire for Valentines Day, and your love for the hippie dresses. Miss you guys!

  2. This makes me so so happy! What a wonderful way to spend Valentine's Day. It seems the timing of my introduction was really quite perfect :)


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