Live Review: The Paper Kites in Melbourne

paper kites’s Jess O’Callaghan checked out the hometown show from one of Melbourne’s finest:

There was a simmering smugness in the crowd on Saturday night when The Paper Kites played at The Forum.

“I saw them years ago,” the girl beside me whispered to the guy she’d brought along. She detailed, in a whisper, the band’s progression from small venues and support acts to headlining at the palatial old theatre on the eve of the US launch of their latest album, States. She glanced up at him a couple of times each song, checking he was enjoying them (he was) and it was all very sweet.

“It’s good, they’re real good.” he assured her, laughing, when he noticed her checking.

Dude was right. They are real good.

The Paper Kites kind of bubbled to the surface of the Melbourne music scene just as twee harmonies and sweet, quirkily-specific lyrics were having their day. I came to them through their song Bloom in 2010. I have a soft spot for their earlier, lighter songs, full of ahhs and humming and whistling. The film clips with kids dressed as animals running through the forest, or tin cans hanging artfully from tree branches.

That fondness was obvious in much of the crowd (it’s no small thing to pack out The Forum) in the way people cheered during the opening chords of Bloom. In the way cheers rippled through the audience when they announced they introduced Arms, which hasn’t been recorded, but was obviously a favourite just from gigs. The whole night buzzed with a quiet, smug, hometown pride.

At some point The Paper Kites graduated from twee, and managed to keep their fan base along the way. They’re not dismissive of their old incarnation, but there’s a sophistication in the songs from States and their latest show that’s fresh and new. It’s in the brass and string sections, the sadness in songs like Cold Kind Hand and Tunnel Bound, and the spectacular weather balloons floating behind the band covered in projections of clouds, fire, of colours and thunderstorms.

And although encores are the worst, The Paper Kites used theirs in a super classy way. The last gig of the tour, they invited support acts Georgia Fair and Robbie Miller onto the stage to cover Feist’s Comfort Me.



Review by Jess O’Callaghan