Lakeland welcomes First Aid Kit
In the past six years, much has changed for the Swedish duo First Aid Kit. Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg had been earning a stellar reputation recording and performing as a teenaged duo in Sweden when their 2008 cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" started turning heads around the world, racking up millions of views on YouTube and earning them big-name fans in far off lands. In 2010, they released their debut LP, 'The Big Black & The Blue,' which prompted critical raves and dates with everyone from Patti Smith and Jack White to Lykke Li and Bright Eyes.
Lakeland College's Krueger Fine Arts Series
presents: An Evening with First Aid Kit
Friday, Nov. 21, 2014
Bradley Theatre, Lakeland College campus
Tickets: $20 each
Limit 4 per person
General admission seating
On sale date: Friday, June 13, 2014, 10 a.m.
Online orders only
"We were big fans of Conor Oberst [of Bright Eyes] for a really long time," says Johanna. "'Lua' was one of the first songs Klara ever learned on guitar. So when he played with Monsters of Folk in Sweden, we got to go backstage and give Conor our first record. A year later we played in Austin and he came to our show and said he loved it, and we met [Bright Eyes/Monsters of Folk member/producer] Mike Mogis, and we asked if he wanted to produce our next record."
Mogis readily agreed, and in 2011 the sisters headed to his Omaha studio to record their breakthrough LP, 'The Lion's Roar,' which debuted at #1 in Sweden and earned a swarm of critical praise around the world. Mojo called it "astonishing," Paste hailed it as "spectacular," and the BBC described it as "brilliant." Rolling Stone named "Emmylou," the sisters' love song dressed in classic country references, one of the Ten Best Singles of 2012, and raved that "you may not hear a more beautifully sung record this year." They performed at the iconic Newport Folk Festival, as well as Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, and opened for Rodriguez at Radio City Music Hall. "Emmylou" also earned them bookings on Conan and Letterman.
But not all change is good. Heartbreak, loneliness, and homesickness can ride the coattails of happiness and success. Sometimes we wish for change, for an escape, but it never comes. It's with an aching beauty and a wisdom well beyond their years (Johanna is 23, Klara 21) that First Aid Kit crystallizes those feelings on 'Stay Gold,' the most mature and ambitious record of their career.
The album opens with a dusty, spaghetti-western string line from local Omaha string players, who appear throughout the record with cinematic arrangements from Nate Walcott (Broken Bells, Rilo Kiley). That first song, "My Silver Lining," gallops through an existential crisis and sets the stage for an album that finds the moments of hope and light in darkness and anxiety. "Master Pretender" is a lush meditation on growing up and learning from mistakes, while "Stay Gold" laments loss and the uncertainty of the future. "What if our hard work ends in despair, what if the road won't take me there?" they sing in beautifully intertwined harmonies. "What if to love and be loved's not enough, what if I fall and can't bear to get up? / Oh I wish for once we could stay gold."
The lyrics are far more intimate than previous First Aid Kit releases. "On our other records, we wrote a lot about nature and fairytale-ish stuff," Johanna says, referencing their early music, which blended aspects of American folk music and Swedish folklore and storytelling. "But if you listen to the lyrics on this one, you can tell it's much more about us, more personal."
"Cedar Lane" waltzes through heartbreak, repeating the line "Something good will come out of this" as a mantra, while "Shattered & Hollow" asserts in no uncertain terms an unshakeable need to escape. On "Waitress Song," Klara fantasizes about dropping everything and assuming a new life. "I could move to a small town and become a waitress," she sings. "Say my name was Stacy / and I was figuring things out."
"It's about dreaming of other lives you could lead," she says of the song, which was written during soundcheck while on tour with Jack White and inspired by listening to Neko Case. "I think everyone has this sort of a secret wish that they could just run away and start a new life somewhere. Not really wanting to actually do it, but having a little fantasy about that."
For two sisters from the suburbs of Stockholm who now share a label with idols like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and regularly tour and record with some of the biggest names in modern folk and indie, real life may seem like a bit of a fantasy at the moment, but it's been a long, steady climb that's brought them here. The future may always hold uncertainty, but for now, things are gold for First Aid Kit, and as they prepare to release the finest album of their career, tomorrow's only looking brighter.
Charlie Krebs has a keen sense of humor and a booming laugh, and when the Lakeland College associate professor of theatre and speech thinks something's funny, it's pretty obvious.
If you take an evening stroll past Lakeland's Bradley Theatre these days, you might just hear the unmistakable sound of Krebs cracking up. With rehearsals for Lakeland's spring musical, Monty Python's "Spamalot," in full swing, laughter is definitely in the air.
"This play is enormously funny," says Krebs with a big smile. "There have been nights when I was working on the script at home, and I started laughing so hard I couldn't stop. It's especially funny if you're a fan of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,' but even if you're not, Spamalot is still very, very funny."
Lakeland Theatre's production of "Spamalot" debuts on Thursday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. with additional shows scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 27-29 and at 2 p.m. March 30. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for non-Lakeland students. They can be purchased in advance using the form below, by contacting Deb Fale at or 920-565-1536.
"Spamalot" is a musical parody of the monster 1975 comedy, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." "Spamalot," which debuted on Broadway in 2005 and won three Tony awards, is about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
"So many people know and love Monty Python, and 'Spamalot' has had a really good run (on Broadway)," says Krebs. "It's funny and irreverent, just a great show.
"'Spamalot' has never been performed in Wisconsin, outside of Milwaukee and Appleton," says Krebs, adding, "When I found out the rights were available, I almost passed out I was so excited."
By opening night, Lakeland's student-actors will have rehearsed for nine weeks, a couple more than usual.
"I think it's a really fun show," says Lakeland actress Katherine Zielsdorf, a sophomore from Kenosha. "It's got a lot of good British humor, and I think it's something the audience is really going to enjoy."
Most of Lakeland's plays over the past few years, including "Fiddler on the Roof," "Soli Deo Gloria" and "Equus," have been on the dramatic and serious side, Krebs says.
"And there's nothing wrong with that, but it's time to have some fun," Krebs says. "And that's exactly what this play is – enormously fun. We laugh together during rehearsal all the time."
Adds Zielsdorf: "It's more fun for me to do comedy. When you're doing a serious play, you're not getting a lot of audience reaction, so it's more fun to do a comedy so you can get reaction from the audience and up your performance a little more."
Fellow student actor Nathan Miller, a freshman from Marinette, agrees.
"I think the audience will love it," he says. "We're having a bunch of fun and that's going to show. It's funny … (people in the audience) will laugh their heads off."