Thursday October 15th at The Gov, in Adelaide, was the first show of The Paper Kites’ Twelvefour Australian tour, supported by Patrick James. It was also one of the early very hot days of spring. The beer garden of The Gov felt tropical, almost pre-cyclonic, the palm trees streaming in the hot, humid breeze. It’s a good backdrop to the very Australian brand of indie folk-rock The Paper Kites play, and it was a good set up to the first night of their tour.
The opening act, Patrick James – who has a new album, Outlier, out now that’s worth checking out – is a folksy guy with an acoustic guitar and keyboard, backed up on tour by a full band. He sounds a little bit like a slower, more thoughtful Mumford & Sons, which is quite relaxing. His stage presence is understated but confidant, and the songs he played from his new album (especially ‘Kings & Queens’) made me interested to check out the whole thing. He also played a swirling, impassioned cover of The Killers’ ‘Runaways’.
The main event, The Paper Kites, took to the stage surrounded by ropes of flashing neon lights, kind of like giant glow sticks hanging on the stage. It looked a bit like the band were trapped in a UFO prison, the set up at The Gov, with its dipped floor and subtle retro-future décor touches, lends itself to that kind of atmosphere. Even though The Paper Kites are an indie folk-rock band, they started the show with an ’80s prom vibe that meant that the psuedo-sci-fi setting worked really well for them.
The crowd at The Gov – which was sizeable, if not sold out – was enraptured through the whole set, and with good reason. The Paper Kites have an arresting stage presence as a band. Their songs are engrossing and esoteric, painting the room with a thick, dense feeling of strangeness. Their onstage banter, especially that of voaclists/guitarists/keys Sam Bentley (or Ben Elliot, as a local ‘street press’ apparently called him) and Christina Lacy, is easy and casual. The audience was hooked from the moment the band took the stage to ‘Electric Indigo’ until the last notes of their encore, ‘Featherstone’, rang out. The Paper Kites bring a really good live show, and their Australian tour is off to a good start.