The Paper Kites beginning their show at the Fine Line Music Cafe.

“We like to check in with our audience in between songs, because, believe it or not, a lot of sad people come to our shows.” Joked Sam Bentley, one of the founding members of The Paper Kites, during their show at the Fine Line Music Cafe. He was right that a lot of sad people were in the audience tonight, mainly because many of The Paper Kites songs are slow, sad songs. Very rarely did their song’s tempo rise above the room’s collective resting heart rate. If you wandered in the show Saturday night without much prior knowledge of the band, you likely left with a massive appreciation for their sound…and perhaps a sappy text drafted in your notes app to send to your ex.

Even that isn’t too far fetched for the paper kites crowd. “Sometimes people leave questioning whether or not they should be together.” Bentley continued to joke with his dry, Aussie humor. The band is stateside to tour on the release of their latest album At The Roadhouse released back in September. Bentley took time to share his inspiration for the album and subsequent tour by telling the crowd about the recording of the album. He had found an old barn by the roadside in a small town in Australia and began to record the album in it, while at the same time, renovating it into a bar. After recording, The band played there on friday and saturday nights, with zero promotion. At first, very few people were there, but by the end of the month, “You couldn’t fit another person in there.” he said. Subsequently, the shows – and the additional members during the sessions – were so good, that he invited the additional members to the band to take the show worldwide.

The Paper Kites are a great example of a band who can do American music better than we Americans can. Their sound is comforting and familiar to the American southwest. Till The Flame Turns Blue, off of At The Roadhouse was one of many songs to feature smooth, floaty steel guitar courtesy of Matt Dixon. Likewise, June’s Stolen Car was one of the few rockers of the night, more upbeat and with great guitar work from David Powy. At The Roadhouse had the biggest share on the setlist for the night, sprinkled in with a few classics, covers, and collaborations. The crowd’s collective gasp at the opening notes of Nothing More Than That, from 2018’s On The Train Ride Home did prove that there were, indeed, plenty of sad, yearning people here tonight.

The band also included a cover of Anything by Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker in their setlist, A rarity because it celebrated the work of one of their contemporaries. Further embracing this spirit of performing modern covers, Bentley welcomed the evening’s opening act back to the stage for a collaborative performance of one of their own songs.

Opening the show was Boy Golden, who we last saw back in Winnipeg this past summer. The band was operating at a reduced scale for the opening act slot, just Duncan and Fontine, in comparison to the six piece band that was on the mainstage for a full set at the Winnipeg Folk Fest. Yet, the stripped down version of Boy Golden we got stateside was just as impressive. While I’m used to their songs in their full glory, the 12 string acoustic guitar and banjo versions of the songs, complete with great duets from Fontaine, were absolutely worth showing up early for, and worthy of a stateside tour of their own.

Boy Golden Performs at The Fine Line Music Cafe, Opening for The Paper Kites.

The Paper Kites approach to choosing their support acts is as thoughtful and deliberate as their own songs. In previous tour stops, They invited Bella White to open for them, (A recent favorite of TSLN) across the West Coast and Canada. As he did with Boy Golden tonight, Bentley even took the time to learn one of Bella White’s songs, performing it together during their shows. Having a headliner collaborate with their supporting acts is a rarity nowadays, and a hit with the audience, who clearly appreciated the gesture.

Despite the busy vibe of St. Patrick’s Day around downtown, the Fine Line was the perfect spot for this gig. Its cozy atmosphere made every note and every lyric feel that much more personal. It w
as clear, though, that The Paper Kites are on the verge of outgrowing these smaller venues. (They sold out Chicago’s Thalia Hall the following night) But for one night, the Fine Line was exactly where both the crowd and the band wanted to be – lost in the music and feeling a little less alone.


  1. Between the Houses
  2. Till the Flame Turns Blue
  3. Hurts So Good
  4. Nothing More Than That
  5. Green Valleys
  6. Tenenbaum
  7. I Don’t Want to Go That Way
  8. Blue Hills (Boy Golden cover performed with Boy Golden)
  9. Bloom (Acoustic)
  10. Junes Stolen Car
  11. Without Your Love
  12. Good Nights Gone
  13. Black & Thunder
  14. Anything (Adrianne Lenker cover)
  15. Arms
  16. Paint


  1. By My Side
  2. Electric Indigo

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