The Paper Kites warms hearts at The Fillmore

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There are few things in the world that feel like comfort food for the soul — NBC’s “This is Us,” videos of soldiers coming home to their dogs, the “Mamma Mia!” duology and The Cinematic Orchestra’s “To Build a Home” to name a few. But listening to the Paper Kites’ indie bops at The Fillmore on Sept. 19 felt like a giant bowl of mac and cheese that warmed up the heart.

Despite its folk roots, the band hails from the sunny coast of Melbourne, where it released its early EPs in 2010. After its hit single “Bloom” came out in 2010, the indie band began gaining popularity, with the band’s fan base slowly growing in the past decade. Now, with four albums and two EPs under its belt, the Paper Kites has a veteran indie folk presence wherever it plays. After releasing two albums in 2018, “On the Train Ride Home” and “On the Corner Where You Live,” the Paper Kites has spent the past year on tour, filling up famous music venues all around the world with ethereal tunes.

At the historic Fillmore, the band’s concert was a vulnerable serenade for dedicated fans who breathed content sighs of happiness with every song played. Although the venue wasn’t filled, it worked in the band’s favor, creating an intimate environment for the audience to connect with its cozy music. 

The best performances were the ones when the band came together to share one microphone, such as when it performed its perennial hit “Bloom” and brought the audience emotionally and physically closer together. The overall intimate vibe of the show allowed the world outside of the walls of The Fillmore to melt away, letting the audience enjoy the here and now.

Early on in the concert, an audience member fainted, halting the music and giving a moment of pause in the crowd. The situation was quickly remedied when lead singer Sam Bentley deftly turned the moment into an opportunity to connect with the audience. He launched into a story about a previous concert in which a fan was punched by another fan, quickly easing any tension and bringing the space back into the warm glow of the stage. 

As Bentley segued into another humorous anecdote about the inspiration for the next song, “It’s Not Like You,” the audience members laughed along as if they had been Bentley’s close buddies for a decade — which, considering the intimacy of the music, they kind of were. 

Bentley’s final anecdote, a hilarious story about him, his sister-in-law and a hustler in New Orleans, gave the concert a personal touch that left the audience feeling a little closer to the Paper Kites.

When the concert was over, it was as if no one wanted to go, with the audience lingering after the last song was played. And this was justified when the band came back out for a two-song encore.

In the aftermath of the concert, one could really understand why music is called “the language of emotions.” As the theater cleared out, the atmosphere of the audience was fulfilled and tranquil, a testament to the heartwarming power of the Paper Kites.

Lush, warm and soulful (like that same good old bowl of mac and cheese), the Paper Kites’ stop at The Fillmore was a gentle reminder to take a breath and a moment to relax amid the hustle and bustle of San Francisco.

Contact Julie Lim at [email protected].