Photos of Deylan LeBlanc by Dylan Cordeiro
Swedish folk darlings First Aid Kit graced Toronto recently with a show at the Danforth Music Hall. Opening for the sister-duo of Johanna and Klara, was Louisiana folk singer Dylan LeBlanc, whose southern charm had the crowd wooed enough to join in on a sing-along to The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” about half way through his set. But his colourful banter almost overshadowed his own songs, like when he broke into a fairly hilarious James Brown impression and then followed it by singing the intro of “It’s a Man’s World,” or when he told the crowd about an interesting experience with one of his co-workers at his last job, Applebees (which would be a bit too incriminating to post here). If his songs weren’t any good, I would’ve liked him to just speak the whole time, but thankfully his set was also memorable. His calming voice worked well with the subtle twang of songs like, “Changing of the Seasons” or “Where Are You Now,” which he prefaced with a story of an ex-girlfriend, but kept it brief, saying not much more than, “She said I was too destructive,” and “I didn’t hit her though, I swear to God I didn’t hit her.” Unfortunately the rest of his band couldn’t be there to back him up, due to some trouble at the border, but he could certainly still carry the songs on his own. He also let the crowd know that he’s “single and ready to mingle.” Watch out Libras and Scorpios.
First Aid Kit opened their set with “In the Morning,” a sparse, half-acapella song that gave their rich harmonies center stage. Next, was “Blue,” a more twee-sounding song from their latest album, which also opens with the line “In the morning.” They dedicated one of their next songs to Pussy Riot and then introduced a b-side for the deluxe version of their album, The Lion’s Roar, called “Marianne’s Son,” which Johanna explained was one of the saddest songs they’d ever written. Klara played the autoharp for “New Year’s Eve” and chimed in on the simple chorus line “That’s what’s going to save me.”
Johanna and Klara’s voices were most impressive when only supported by light instrumentation or sometimes none at all. For “Ghost Town,” they walked to the edge of the stage and sung completely acoustic to the hushed crowd, showcasing not only their wonderful vocal harmonies but also the incredible acoustics of the Danforth Music Hall. And they of course changed the line to “A Toronto window-view” to much applause. They really showed off their ranges on the falsetto chorus of “To A Poet,” which was followed by their tribal-sounding single “Wolf” and a cover of Fever Ray’s “When I Grow Up.” They continued in the vein of sing-alongs with the Nashville country-esque “Emmylou” that it seemed everyone knew the words to. “The Lion’s Roar,” the title track of their new album, was their chance to really rock out, as Klara beat the keys and swung her hair in every direction possible while still regaining composure in time to sing in harmony with Johanna.
For the encore, they performed a cover of Paul Simon’s “America,” which they played at the Polar Music Awards show last year in front of Paul Simon himself. The autoharp made one last appearance for “Sailor Song,” which started off slowly, but quickly had everyone moving their feet when the beat kicked in, after a quick countdown in Swedish by Johanna. But the show ended most triumphantly with their track “King of the World,” a song that describes their world view as a sort of blissful negligence towards their place, and a belief that you can be at once, “The Queen of nothing” and “The King of the world.”