Live Review: First Aid Kit, Willy Mason; Guided By Voices tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 10:35 am June 3, 2014
First Aid Kit at The Waiting Room, June 2, 2014.

First Aid Kit at The Waiting Room, June 2, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

We thought we’d beat the crowds and get a table for last night’s sold out First Aid Kit show at The Waiting Room, but by the time we got there at around 7:15 all the tables and seating were occupied, mainly by old people (and when I say old, I mean older than me). The crowd ran the spectrum in age, from the X-crossed hands of the under-21s to the elderly. I saw women who must have been pushing 70 in the crowd. But mostly it was women in general. First Aid Kit attracts a large female audience, which I guess isn’t surprising.

The duo has graduated to major-label success with the pending release of Stay Gold, which comes out on Columbia next Tuesday. Powering their popularity is their blend of folk and country, and their tightly intertwined harmonies that recall the better days of a Nashville long gone.

If you think about it, women have taken over pop music. The best and brightest stars — whether in indie or commercial radio — are all women, whether it’s Warpaint and Courtney Barnett, or Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. The biggest arena concert news these days isn’t the return of Pearl Jam, it’s last weekend’s Cher concert or the just-announced Lorde show at Stir Concert Cove.

Anyway, last night’s show kicked off with a solo electric performance by singer/songwriter Willy Mason, who played a tight 40-minute set as people filed into the club. Mason’s brassy voice has deepened dramatically since he emerged a decade ago. As proof, he played the standout track “Oxygen,” from his Team Love debut, the Ritalin-referenced lyrics betraying his lost youth. Last time Mason came through was as a solo artist, too. I’d like to see him with a band.

First Aid Kit took the stage at the stroke of 9. The Swedish duo were backed by a drummer and a guy on lap-steel and other instruments, while the sisters provided the guitar, keyboards and heavenly voices. The crowd stood motionless as they played through a set list that drew from their two previous albums and the upcoming LP.

While I like their last record, The Lion’s Roar, there’s only a few songs that really stand out for me. Among them, “King of the World,” which they played early in their set. And their other “hit,” the country music tribute “Emmylou,” which they saved for the last song of the evening, during their encore. In between the set ebbed and flowed. Whenever it got too boring they spiced it up, at one point walking to the edge of the stage to sing a tune microphone-less, somehow managing to bring the ambient noise in The Waiting Room down to a whisper.

The duo’s new music falls in line with what they’ve released in the past. The standout among the new stuff is the title track, “Stay Gold.” The rest may need time to grow on me. All said and done, the show was over by 10:30, a reasonable time for a Monday evening, and the elderly.

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I have no doubt that tonight’s show, Guided By Voices at The Waiting Room, will go well past 10:30 and into the wee hours of the morning. As of this writing, tickets were still available. If you’ve never seen GBV, you will be well-rewarded in making the $30 per ticket investment. Pollard and Co. leave it all out there on stage. When they played The Black Cat in DC on May 24 they played 48 songs including three encores (see setlist). Good thing this show starts at 8 p.m. with opener Bobby Bare Jr.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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