Indie lovers everywhere gathered at Maxwell’s on Nov. 26 to hear Australian quintet The Paper Kites. Boasting a sold-out show and an even more boisterous crowd, it was sure to be a night to remember.
The evening began with opening act Horse Thief, an indie-rock band all the way from Oklahoma City. Paper Kites lead singer Sam Bentley mentioned that they had toured with The Paper Kites two years earlier at much smaller venues, and that it was amazing to have come so far.
Comprised of five guys in head-to-toe black, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but their first song turned out great. Three songs in, and I decided that I was a fan.
Despite all of the head banging and hair whipping, mostly from bassist Cody Fowler, the lyrics were surprisingly soulful. It was altogether a wonderfully surprising experience, especially from an opening act.
After Horse Thief wrapped up their last song and finished sipping their beers, the stage was cleared and The Paper Kites took the stage.
With a steady beat from drummer Josh Bentley, the band launched their set with songs from their upcoming album. The dimly lit crowd combined with the steady guitar strumming and soothing vocals made for a very ‘chill’ atmosphere.
Midway through the band’s set, Sam Bentley asked the crowd if he could try something a little different. At his request, the lights were dimmed low — so low that the venue became nearly pitch-black — and the band became just-distinguishable silhouettes on stage.
Bentley proceeded to ask for silence, a request that was met with compliance from most of the audience, save for a few rowdy members along the outer edge.
Music by The Paper Kites have an altogether mellow, feel-good, make-you-think type of sound, but the song played in the dark was significantly rawer than the numbers that had come before it. Delivered by the guitar around his neck and his vocals alone, Bentley gave a stunning performance and had the crowd wrapped around his finger.
The stage still dim, the rest of the band readied their instruments and proceeded to launch into their 2011 debut single, “Bloom.” A crowd favourite, the song had everyone swaying and singing along, while banjo/guitarist David Powys and synthesizer/bassist Sam Rasmussen joined Christina Lacey and Bentley in harmonizing the popular chorus.
Later in the night, they performed a song called “Holes.” Bentley explained that “Holes” hadn’t made it onto their last album, twelvefour, not because it wasn’t a good song, but because it had been out-voted. It turned out to be a great song, and just as good as all of the ones before it.
The set ended with another popular song, “Featherstone.” However, after the band left the stage, the crowd called them back for an encore. After a few moments, they all came back, smiling in spite of themselves. Leaving their instruments in their racks, the quintet came together to sing two chillingly beautiful acapellas, with perfectly timed harmonies.
Incredibly, those who hung back were able to meet the band. A sort of impromptu meet and greet, the members went around chatting with fans, signing merchandise, and taking pictures. I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet them, too, and I can say that they’re every bit as wonderful as the songs they sing.