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Kate Bollinger charms, captivates San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill with whimsy

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OCTOBER 18, 2022

Kate Bollinger built a dulcet dreamscape at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill on Oct. 12 for the first show of her Look at it in the Light tour.

Following a jovial performance from opening band Fonteyn, the venue dimmed into a delicate haze as audience members vied for positions right beneath the stage. Under dreamy fuschia lights, Bollinger arrived on stage to audible gasps from the crowd, a lustrous white guitar in her hands. Easing into the first gentle notes of “Lady in the Darkest Hour,” Bollinger’s comfort was palpable, her azure cloth pants falling in waves below her ankles.

“Soon comes the day,” she sang, voice dripping in ardor, “when the tunnel fills with light.” Those words came to life as devout gazes from fans fell over Bollinger.

Initially, Bottom of the Hill’s mahogany counters and shadowy lights seemed to contrast the indie pop artist’s mellifluous instrumentals and lyricism. But as Bollinger stood on stage, eyes falling on every member of the packed crowd, the venue’s intimate feel only served to intensify her connection with the dazzled audience.

Bollinger exhibited a quiet maturity, making it hard at times to remember that she is still in her early 20s. Crooning soulfully to “Candy,” swaying along to “Shadows” and singing out enchanting refrains on “I Found Out,” Bollinger showed a mellow poise. Having performed with prominent artists Faye Webster and L’Impératrice, Bollinger appeared relaxed in the spotlight.

As she strummed along to “I Don’t Wanna Lose/Boys in my Head,” however, her youthful vulnerability was on full display. “I was a child once,” Bollinger warbled, “I still am one, I know it.” Showing the expanse of her range between stirring lows and silvery highs, Bollinger’s signature bedroom pop sounds mesmerized the crowd. As she stood on the toes of her synthetic baby blue boots, Bollinger lifted just slightly off of the ground, enhancing the song’s girlish quality.

Debuting her unreleased track “All This Time,” Bollinger’s voice was at the center of the stage. Utterly ethereal, her performance evoked the sensation of floating blissfully on a cloud. “I’m in California today,” Bollinger sang, smiling to audience cheers. Eyes shut and swaying into the mic, her passion was striking as ever. Through a tender electric interlude accompanied by her lead guitarist, Bollinger was the focus of reverential stares from fans at all ends of the venue.

Bollinger’s easy confidence climaxed amid the first chords of fan favorite, “Yards/Gardens.” Her voice rang out as candid and clear as she grinned into the infatuated crowd. Her hands tumbled over her guitar strings with finesse, picking out a swift tempo. Earnest, and humbly self-assured, Bollinger’s vitality descended over the crowd members as they sang along to the chorus, and the song’s brisk ending was met with wild applause.

As if within a dream, time seemed to pass in mere seconds throughout the first 13 songs of Bollinger’s set. The ardent crowd likely would have stayed standing for hours more to hear the entirety of Bollinger’s discography. “We just have one more… and it’s the last one, we promise,” Bollinger said with a sly smile as wistful sighs arose from the audience.

Among the crowd’s vehement begs for an encore, Bollinger plunged into the melancholy sounds of “Running.” Bollinger stood steady in the track’s conflicted emotions as she sang with a bittersweet lilt: “The way these things change, you know you’re bound to fall.” Captivated in riveting sensitivity, Bollinger seemed to be the only person present in the venue, the audience holding onto the final tones of her performance feverishly.

As Bollinger made her way down the stage’s steps, fans in the front rows grasped for setlists left behind in a frenzy. Filing out slowly into San Francisco’s crisp night air, with many lingering behind, the crowd remained spellbound by Bollinger even after the show came to a close.

Contact Olivia Rhee at 


OCTOBER 18, 2022