Upon golden film of western sunsets, horses and American desert landscapes, two Swedish sisters perfectly capture the heart of Americana. Words and photos by Bren Swogger.

For being Swedish, sister duo First Aid Kit captures the golden heart of Americana beautifully. With swoon-worthy harmonies and glistening production, Johanna and Klara Soderberg have released nothing but perfect records front to back over the span of their 16 year career.

The last time I saw First Aid Kit perform was almost 10 years ago. On a frigid November night in Portland, I stood for hours outside the Roseland Theater to snag a front row spot. I remember vividly being absolutely awestruck by the beauty of their performance, particularly when it came to the acoustic parts of the set.

Suffice to say, it had been far too long. And of course, the COVID pandemic played a part in this distance. Though it had been 10 years for me, for the city of Portland itself, this too was a long overdue reunion, the band not having visited for five years.

Portland certainly gave them a warm welcome, upgrading from the smaller theater venues to a completely sold out Keller. And for First Aid Kit themselves, coming back to Portland was a bit of a homecoming.

“We made the album Ruins in Portland,” Klara said. “So it feels like coming home in a way.”

Even through the pandemic, and away from their West Coast home away from home, First Aid Kit have been a constant. During COVID, their livestream acoustic concerts on Instagram were a blessing. As we all hunkered down, cut off from live music, Johanna and Klara were a light in the darkness. 

For so long away, and the music and love they brought through hard times, having them back was a beautiful moment that the whole crowd savored.

In the vein of the country greats, First Aid Kit’s storytelling and songwriting skills are always sharp, especially exemplified on the gorgeous and intimate “Wild Horses 2”, an ode to the oft-forgotten “Wild Horses” originator Gram Parsons.

And while the sisters perfectly capture the golden glow of Americana on their acoustic numbers, the two proved themselves, too, as bonafide rockstars, with Johanna’s ripping guitar solo on “Rebel Heart” and their bombastic performance of “Lion’s Roar” both earning a standing ovation from the crowd.

But the most emotional and memorable moment of the night came from not an original, but a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird”, a tribute to the late great Christine McVie. Sung out into the silent room, the crowd’s breath was stolen. One could hear a pin drop through the entirety of their intimate performance… all until the crowd erupted into its second standing ovation of the night.

Through golden sunsets, wild horses, and the perfect blend of acoustic beauty and roaring rock, First Aid Kit’s Portland homecoming was an overdue treat, and one I hope we don’t have to wait too much longer for again.

Editor / Founder

Bren Swogger (they/them) is the creator and editor of Indie/Alt Magazine. Bren started Indie/Alt as a music blog during their sophomore year of high school, and after a long hiatus, relaunched it as an online entertainment magazine in 2021 for their capstone project at Pacific University. After 10 years in the music journalism industry, Bren has a long-standing passion for live music, but also loves to explore their passion for other artistic outlets. You can find Bren writing voraciously, adding to their never-ending stack of TBRs, and marathoning classic horror films.