Playing to a packed crowd -- donned in mostly plaid with a few solid colors and stripes in between -- the real little monsters of folk displayed their talents.
Usually St. Louis crowds show up five minutes on either side of the main event kickoff. Saturday night was the exception -- maybe because of the cold, but probably due to the enigmatic Indian Blanket, a local band that was playing a rare show. A cello and keyboard supported Joe Andert's crowd-entrancing melodies. The singer also introduced Klara from First Aid Kit as a friend who was very nervous. She lent Indian Blanket a thread of plaidnum credit with a silky cover of Bob Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather."
Shreveport, La.'s Dylan LeBlanc took the stage shortly thereafter. Backed by a fantastic steel guitar player and drummer, LeBlanc strummed through his beautifully-crafted songs. His voice faded in and out mirroring the slide guitar in a cross-instrument duet. The duet wavered back and forth like an old record left in the sun whose dips and swells can only truly be loved by its owner.
His set would have passed like a golden meadow out of a car window had Dylan not introduced his cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" with a strange diatribe about how black people are the best singers and how he never met a black person that couldn't sing. Well, Dylan, exhibit A: Ol' Dirty Bastard and exhibit B: Nicki Minaj.
First Aid Kit took the stage to a chorus of strings and strutted right into "In the Morning." The only problem? Klara's mic was not working. Not a problem, the two sisters strode to the center of the stage and launched into their YouTube famous Fleet Foxes' cover over a rhythm section of voltage overloads and digital camera clicks.
After a fifteen minute break to fix one mic, the sisters and their drummer retook the stage to "Blue." From there they soared into an astral set dedicating the effervescent "Hard Believer" to the acerbic Richard Dawkins and gliding through "Emmylou."
With set highlights including a stellar rendition of Paul Simon's "America" and "Ghost Town," done as a second unplugged number, we can only hope First Aid Kit will come back to us someday.
Photos by Jamie Dees.