Bonnaroo Artist Focus: First Aid Kit

With Bonnaroo tickets on sale and the Manchester festival’s June 7-10 dates around the corner, it might be a little daunting trying to decide which of the 100+ artists will give you the most bang for your buck. In this column, we’ll focus on a different artist every week to give you a sense of who they are and who will be worth checking out once summer rolls around.

For a group that seems so embedded in today’s American folk scene, it comes as a bit of surprise to be reminded that First Aid Kit hails from the frigid outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden. The duo consists of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, whose music consists of flawless harmonies over meandering bluegrass-inspired instrumentals to back them.

The group has listed a variety of folk influences from Emmylou Harris to Connor Oberst and rose to international prominence after the release of a wonderful cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” by Fleet Foxes in 2008. Ten years later, First Aid Kit has four albums under their belt and has continued their inevitable growth as musicians with the release of each one.

The release of First Aid Kit’s latest album, “Ruins,” this year has graced listeners with another collection of melancholy beauty from the Söderberg sisters. A stand out track from the record comes with “It’s A Shame,” which addresses the topic of emotional vulnerability in the aftermath of a relationship as the song’s rolling beat seems to symbolize the inevitable forward progress of life nonetheless. Directly after comes the album’s lead single, “Fireworks,” a despondent, floating ballad that questions self-defeating states of limbo that we fall back into, asking in its chorus, “Why do I do this to myself every time?” The track was accompanied by a music video taking place at a dreary high school prom in the ‘80s in which none of the attendees seem content with their respective dates. It’s a song that evokes a kind of subdued sadness that memories of the past seem to create, making the song one of 2018’s most resonant tracks so far.

First Aid Kit seems to carry the impassioned elements of songwriting that make them a good fit for the palate of southern festivalgoers. Their act will likely provide one of the more restrained sets of music in comparison to the rest of Bonnaroo’s ostentatious lineup, but it will nonetheless be one of heart-wrenching elegance to stumble into.

Watch First Aid Kit’s video for “Fireworks” below.

To contact Music Editor Hayden Goodridge, email

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