Johanna and Klara lit up the room in gold sequins at Webster Hall during their sold out performance Wednesday night. “We never thought we would be sold out here” they exclaimed cheerfully followed shortly by “tack sa mycket” (“thank you” in Swedish, their mother tongue). Their playful banter was very well received by the young indie crowd which filled every last square inch of both floors.
The young ladies mentioned their sophomore album release Lions Roar this past January and most of their set list consisted of these songs including “Blue,” “This Old Routine,” and “New Year’s Eve.” They also played “Heavy Storm” from previous album The Big Black and the Blue, dedicating it to Peggy Su.
Other dedications included “Emmylou,” their self-proclaimed tribute to Johnny Cash. This country tune was a great sing-along choice and they encouraged the crowd to sing along to the chorus, “I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June/And you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too/No I’m not asking much of you/Just sing little darling, sing with me.” Another crowd pleaser, “Ghost Town,” was an intimately acoustic magical moment. The sisters stood side by side on the dark stage delivering haunting vocals, and along with every fan there, during any pause in the song you could hear a pin drop.
Their covers were just as amazing especially Fever Ray’s “When I Grow Up.” Fever Ray happens to be the side project of the Swedish band who discovered them, The Knife’s lead singer. “When I grow up, I want to be a forester/Run through the moss in high heels/That’s what I’ll do, throw out boomerang/Waiting for it to come back to me” they serenaded. Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” was their encore song and they shared that performing this song for Patti herself was one of the most amazing experiences of their lives.
One of the best songs was their performance of “Lions Roar” towards the end. The sounds of the synthesizer mixed with the slow head banging as they crooned cathartically helped us realize why the album was named after it. With so much maturity behind their lyrics and depth to their sound at only 18 and 21, imagine what a third album could bring. As I left the concert venue I heard a girl behind me comment to her friend that this was one of the top five most magical moments of her life, and she was referring to the show. While that may sound extreme, once you see them live you might understand.