Tucson, Ariz. — The Paper Kites rolled into town from San Diego to perform at the intimate Club Congress inside of the historic Hotel Congress. The 7 year old band of an indie folk-rock genre hails from Melbourne, Australia. The band supported headliner Passenger for this North American tour, however Tucson received the special treat of a show headlined by The Paper Kites.
Opening the night was local songwriter Jess Matsen, who chilled his way through his mellow acoustic set while some in the crowd chattered directly in front of him. In between songs, Matsen spoke to the crowd, stating that he hadn’t anticipated such a large turnout. Despite the noise, there were some attendees that clearly appreciated his performance, and shouted up front to ask for his name. Matsen released The Killing of Our Kind Of in November of last year, and has also performed with local groups Dream Sick & J.R.M.
The Paper Kites directly followed Matsen with a sound that one fan was overheard describing as “ethereal”, and they brought passersby into the venue with their notable sound. The band’s harmonies are entrancing, particularly their signature duets between lead vocalist Sam Bentley and keyboardist/guitarist Christina Lacy.
In between songs, Bentley took the opportunity to chat with the crowd, commenting that the intimate venue was like playing a house show… except not, because it’s much fancier. He also joked about wishing he could take one of the cacti home, that he saw during the drive to Tucson from California. After he broke out his harmonica, he mused that everyone always gets excited about the instrument.
The venue afforded him the opportunity to interact with the crowd in a way not possible on the other dates of the tour in which they performed grand theaters such as The Wiltern in Los Angeles and Fox Theater in Oakland, CA.
With the lighting that Club Congress offers, it was pleasant to be able to observe every band member clearly. The least visible being bassist/synth player (synthist?) Sam Rasmussen, who was tucked in the back right corner behind the other musicians and instruments.
With impressive mastery of their musicianship and sound, there was nary a difference in sound between hearing The Paper Kites live and listening to one of their albums.
The Paper Kites “Too Late” live in Tucson
The Paper Kites “Too Late” live in Tucson https://t.co/V5yvaw9j4b
— Burning Hot Events (@BHEArizona) April 4, 2017
Amidst their set, following the song “Too Late”, came the most intimate segment of all. Bentley asked that the lights be turned off, and the room was then lit only by the faint glow of the exit signs. The next two songs were a unique and meditative period of visual deprivation. The first song in the darkness was “A Silent Cause”, which was fitting considering how silent the crowd felt obligated to become with the lights out.
The second song in the darkness was “Bloom”, which instead had the audience united in a beautiful chorus. Usually while the unison sing-a-longs at concerts are touching, tone-deaf vocals shout-sang by fans are commonplace. (It doesn’t matter, because it’s about the experience and showing love to the artists.) But The Paper Kites’ fans in Tucson have surprisingly good singing voices, as they fell into a delightful harmony.
Before the encore, the band played “Electric Indigo”, followed by “Featherstone” to close the show. Afterward, the band was so kind as to meet fans, autograph merch, and take group photos outside. It was not just a small concert, but truly an experience to be in attendance at The Paper Kites’ gig in Tucson, with such a personal connection both during and after their performance. No doubt fans were grateful for the rare opportunity before the band heads back to Australia.
by Katherine Amy Vega
The Paper Kites & Jess Matsen – Club Congress 4-3-17
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