Rainbow Kitten Surprise have been to Minneapolis three times in the last two years; first at the 7th St Entry, next First Ave, and then the Palace Theatre last night. Every show was sold out. The success story of RKS (how fans refer to them) is one that many bands hope for and few bands achieve: straight shot to some of the largest festivals and venues in cities across the nation in a matter of two short years since they began touring outside of the east coast market.
The North Carolinian band, who released their third studio album (How to: Friend, Love Freefall) last year, took to the stage last night and began “Matchbox” in a manner that could be described as humble given their typical live energy. The audience’s excitement made up for that low-key opening until the frontman, Sam Melo, warmed up enough to dance his way from behind the keyboard to center stage and give the crowd a taste of what they had come to expect.
By their second song, “It’s Called: Freefall,” the enthusiasm was there in full force, with a whirlwind of twirling and jumping and high-kicking after the build-and-drop towards the end of the song, preceded by the lyrics “Ain’t sh*t free but falling out/ and that sh*t’s easy let me show you how, it’s like.” RKS songs use a lot of vocal harmonies, and more often than not there is more than one band member singing at any given time, but I found Charlie Holt’s bass particularly striking during that song and left me wishing there were more of his harmonies the entire show, savoring them when they came.
“Shameful Company” swelled to a heart-grabbing brilliance when Melo dragged out the line, “If I don’t suit you, then what do you want from me?” into an anguished scream. The audience lost their minds when, in “American Shoes,” the music lulled and Melo sang, “I think I’m in love with the thought of us” right before the song crashed, launching the band and fans alike into a storm of dancing and scream-singing. It took me this long to notice that Darrick “Bozzy” Keller (guitar and vocals) was covered in glitter, most of it being apparent fallout from his beard.
The first few notes of “Hide” proved to be a crowd favorite, probably due to the song’s popularity as a sort of anthem for LGBTQ+ fans; Melo came out publicly on Instagram when the music video was released for the track. Keller and Melo switched to acoustic guitars and Ethan Goodpaster, guitar, switched to a banjo and they began “All That And More (Sailboat)” as the crowd let out an audible “Awe!” in unison.
Fan favorites were easily some of the most popular tracks on their first and second albums like “Cocaine Jesus,” and “Devil Like Me,” Melo showing off his piano skills between songs. RKS played a new song with no context or warning, leaving the audience to turn to each other the first few chords asking if it was new. Notable lines from the new song, possibly named “No Vacancy,” were, “I guess I meant it when I said I never loved you/ but I never meant for it the hurt this bad.”
“St. Paul, this is our last song. Thank you all for coming,” said Melo to the audience as the band began the opening notes of “Goodnight Chicago.” Melo and Holt had a little alternating high kick sequence before one of the choruses; when the song finished Melo blew the crowd a kiss and the band walked off. They returned shortly after for a three-song encore, Jess Haney (drums) and Holt run-spinning their way on stage, Goodpastor carrying his guitar over his head, and Melo now shirtless save for a brightly patterned blazer that ended up coming off for the last song anyway.
RKS played “Fever Pitch” and “Recktify” one after another, Melo with more passion in his dancing and singing than we’d seen all night. Before their last song, Melo thanked every member of their crew by name and introduced the band in a sort of auctioneer style before hyping the audience up one last time as he went back and forth asking “do you mind?!” to which the crowd would scream, “No!” and after a few of those he began “Run” with words of request, “well if you really don’t mind, turn the f*ck up please!” They drew the song out, Goodpaster using his empty beer bottle as a guitar slide and Melo climbing Haney’s drum kit to balance in an arabesque atop the kick drum.
Sometimes you go to shows and you can tell that people are getting antsy waiting for it to end, but this was absolutely not one of those shows. Rainbow Kitten Surprise have a community of dedicated fans, and it was evident throughout the show that nobody wanted to go home last night. There was something in the air that lingered after the band left the stage and it left everyone smiling and content, happy to have spent a Tuesday night in a snowstorm with one of their favorite bands.
It’s Called: Freefall
All The And More (Sailboat)
Devil Like Me
When It Lands
New song (possibly, “No Vacancy”)