with Peggy Sue & Meg Baird
The Garage, London
Wichita Recordings have covered a lot of ground in the last ten years. Wichita is the colourful phoenix that flew out for the ashes of Creation Records, guided a lovely bearded Welshman that was partly responsible for the signing of some the 90s most incredible acts. Though they began with releasing some of my favourite albums of the decade (Bright Eyes’ ‘Fevers and Mirrors’ and Bloc Party’s ‘Silent Alarm’), it was Dick and Mark’s discovery of two girls from Sweden with stunning voices and an inexplicable talent for melody making, First Aid Kit, that made me actively fly the Wichita flag.
There wasn’t any other choice for who was to headline the ‘folking excellent’ Tueday night in their string of celebrations for the record label’s tenth birthday. New Jersey’s Meg Baird was tremendous and continued to draw attention from NJ’s sore shore rep and point us in the direction of the spectacular and pleasantly haunting music that emerges from the garden state. The folk or ‘anti-soul’ revival was in full-force when Peggy Sue mounted the stage in front of a now-rammed Garage. These were two brilliant sets, but First Aid Kit made me cease to function properly like jeeping shit.
First Aid Kit burst onto the web with an acoustic cover of Fleet Foxes’ ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song‘ in a nearby forest that can only be described as the loveliest viral video ever created. Since then they’ve released an equally lovely EP and a stunning debut that was matched by one of the most heart-warming, awe-filling live performances I’ve seen in some time at Wichita’s birthday feast of folk. They open with ‘Tangerine’, a gentle world-weary and refreshing blowback of Cat Power smoke which lingers like a surprisingly pretty moth as they power into the delicately perfect ‘You’re Not Coming Home Tonight’. They are utterly unaware of their flawlessness and play to us almost as if they we were peer pressured into playing the lonely looking guitar that’s placed against the wall of their bedroom. The Garage isn’t a large venue but it certainly isn’t small, and to render the entire crowd fully silent during an entirely unplugged rendition of ‘Ghost Town‘ speaks volumes about their natural talent that doesn’t require any further lexical amplification.
Of course their Fleet Foxes’ cover proved favourable with a perpetually beaming crowd but the highlight was a foot-stomping march through melody and powerful choruses in ‘Own Our Pretty Ways‘. They’ve come a long way from recording inconspicuous videos in forests and regardless of their admirable ‘aim for the hearts, not for the charts!’ motto, could very easily win the love from both.