fireworks of flavour
First Aid Kit @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW Australia 03/04/2018 written by Brendan Lewis
Thirsty? Good, because Swedish indie-folk sisters First Aid Kit, are quenching our thirst for full-bodied matured flavoursome musical wine, as they pour their hearts out into the glasses filled with samples from their freshly brewed new album, ‘Ruins’. This new album is filled with an explosion of musical flavours and attributes from sweet, smokey, crisp and heavy on the palate, so without a doubt, no matter what flavour your musical palate yearns for, tonight will serve up the perfect blend to hit that spot I’m sure.
*As you enter, please hand in your keys, drivers license, inhibitions and self respect…. For safety reasons of course*
An entrancing steady drum pulse with synced lights at the back of the stage start, with eery strings/violin soon accompanying it, to draw the sisters out onto the stage for the first song, appropriately the opening song off ‘Ruins’, ‘Rebel Heart’. This song quickly sets a warm delicate maturity in it’s tone, with vocal hooks swirling around the mid-tempo beat and string harmonies. I do feel however that this live blend is a little too hard on the palate as if it was filled with too much alcohol, as the drums draw the main focus, leaving the vocals, audible, yet overpowered. If the mix of sound was spot-on, this would’ve made a potent opening song, to get everyone hooked from the start, especially as both sisters sway with the swirling rhythm while playing their instruments at the forefront of the stage, as if intoxicated by the music.
The musical wine keeps flowing without a flicker of inconsistency, as the band flow straight into the next two songs ‘It’s A Shame’ and ‘King Of The World’. The first of these songs brings the taste to an uplifting sweet nectar, filled with major-key chords, uplifting powerful vocals blasts, organs giving complimenting harmonies/undertones, and all of which riding a skipping drum beat like a quick beating heart…. With a few extra beats. This uplifting taste prompts both girls to move around the stage in high-spirits, bringing an aesthetic energy to the show, that I didn’t see coming, with the calm, complex maturity of the music on a whole. Sadly though, the drums still draw the main focus and leave the sweet vocals struggling.
After the bassist (one of the two sisters) moves up close to us at the front and instigates a clap along to the next songs’ intro, ‘King Of The World’ keeps the happy vibe flowing with more colourful major-key chords that get the sisters energised and moving around the stage, jumping up and down excitedly (Or possibly drunkenly?) in surprising energetic charisma. The drums progress to a steady dance 1-3 beat and makes my musical sobriety tipsy, and if the rest of the audience weren’t so calm, relaxed and fixated, I’d totally bust a subtle move, with how universally easy to love this blend is, like a soft, sweet sauvignon. The vibrant vocals, which sit more comfortably in the blend, add so much sweet flavour to the mix, and yes, are still struggling to stay above the drums, but get their turn to shine brightly in the songs’ bridge, when the sound is more stripped back.
The girls now share their bubbly musical-intoxication with us, with a positive atmosphere-warming chat to their audience, further raising the positivity and engaging energy of the show after the previous songs’ hype. The sequential four songs that follow include ‘Postcard’, ‘Stay Gold’, ‘Lion’s Roar’ and ‘You Are The Problem Here’.
When trying copious amounts of wine as one does in Australia, you’re no doubt going to come across one you don’t like, but can appreciate for it’s raw qualities. ‘Postcard’ is that wine for me, like a fruity yet strong acidic white, this song has a very strong country (genre) flavour to it, which doesn’t sit as comfortably on my palate, yet I can definitely appreciate it’s quality, it is uplifting, and would be very easy to slow wiggle/dance to if this is your preferred blend. My appreciation is made easy, as the girls’ cool, refreshing vocals are sitting far more comfortably over the other sounds.
'Stay Gold’ now is far more appealing for my taste, and leaves me falling deeper into the depths of aural intoxication, with it’s powerful vocal melodies in the chorus, to a perfectly justifying gentle steady dance-beat, in an emotional yet vibrant and pleasant aroma, which the sisters enhance with positive on-stage energy. The bassist once again, gets the audience involved, as she moves up close and instigates another clap-along for the songs’ final chorus, which raises the essence around me superbly.
‘Lion’s Roar’ fills me with a flavour quite reflective of Galway Pipe Port. This song is dark, stripped back, full of crying emotion, yet warm, calming and evenly mixed. Just like a Galway Pipe, it’s accompanied by a rich fruit flavour, as the sisters bring a level of energy to the song, which it musically lacks, like one of the girls flicking her hair around like at a rock show, and is a little foreign for this song, but makes it sit more evenly in the mix of the entire set.
This may be a rock show after all, seeing as ‘You Are The Problem Here’ gives off an angsty aggressive rock scent, with it’s grungy guitar riff, and slightly too strong drums, that border-line on over-powering to the vocals. This adds a surprising spicy bite to the show, that gives more diverse flavours.
For the rest of this set which goes by in a hazy blur, the sound seems more even and pleasant to the palate more so than other songs previous, this may be that my ears have gotten used to the mix, like when you’ve had quite a few to drink and all alcohol goes down so much easier to tolerate, no matter how strong it is, or perhaps the sound mixer has adjusted the musical recipe? ….wow, I’m portraying myself as a MASSIVE drunk aye? This more pleasant blend is quite refreshing especially now as the top shelf stuff starts coming out, like the matured woody-smoke of popular track ‘Wolf’, fiery yet creamy new track ‘Fireworks’, bubbly sparkling sing-along ‘Waitress Song’ and finally, appropriate finishing song, closing track off ‘Ruin’ ‘Nothing Has To Be True’. All the songs’ demonstrate all the diverse flavours and aromas poured out in the set previously, engaging chats from the girls between songs, which in one case is a little too drawn out and feels like when the tour guide starts rambling on about how the wine’s made, and I’m thinking “I really just want to get back to the drinking part”, and leaves me drunk with musical sophistication and diversity.
Final call! After the audience around me drunkenly stamp their feet and yell out nonsense as one does when drunk (possibly literally in this case), the band re-emerge onto the stage for a four-song encore which features an unamplified, raw rendition of bright and sing/slur-along provoking ‘Hem Of Her Dress’ and finishes with the one we’ve all been waiting for, the full-bodied smokey favourite ‘My Silver Lining’, which fills me to the brim and caps off the session adequately.
If you read all the review, you should be filled with the same feelings as I was of this show. Full of flavour, a little too harsh in the mix at times, diverse, mature, and sophisticated. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this show being a relatively new frontier for my musical tastes, and would definitely do this again in the future!