Rainbow Kitten Surprise: “Friend, Love, Freefall” Tour Brings Surprising Success

Hearing the name “Rainbow Kitten Surprise” leads to much confusion over what exactly that is: a new type of drug? A children’s television show? The “surprise,” perhaps, is that Rainbow Kitten Surprise is actually an indie band from Boone, N.C.

Cartoon by Cate Johnson

With influences like Kendrick Lamar, Brockhampton, Modest Mouse, and folk music like Doc Hampton from their hometown of Boone, it’s hard to squeeze RKS into just one genre. The eclectic band has gained popularity over the past few years, recently signing with Elektra Records, which has been home to notable artists like Queen and The Doors.

After the April release of their new album, “How To: Friend, Love, Freefall,” RKS began their 38-stop, “Friend, Love, Freefall” tour across the U.S. on March 29.

“I’m usually trying to get tickets sold in each market all the way up until the show itself,” Colorado College student and RKS tour coordinator Noah Fabie ‘19 said. “RKS’s two-month tour kicked off on March 29. Since then, all but two shows have sold out … The tickets sell themselves.”

The five members of the band waltzed into the Ogden Theatre in Denver last weekend for a two-night stint on stage. During the opening act, excited fans bobbed their heads along to the Americana rock music of Colorado Springs native Brent Cowles, while they eagerly awaited Rainbow Kitten Surprise. Cowles, whose music is also a blend of different genres, held on to the crowd’s attention as he danced around the stage, the lights reflecting off his deep blue, sequined blazer.

Then, the lights faded to black and the audience erupted with applause as the band members took to the stage. Lead singer and co-founder of RKS, Sam Melo, came out first, immediately captivating the crowd. Melo was joined by guitarist and co-founder, Darrick “Bozzy” Keller, bassist Charlie Holt, drummer Jess Haney, and guitarist Ethan Goodpaster. When their set began, it was clear how electric the band’s dynamic is. Melo danced and leapt back and forth across the stage, making it his own, while his unique voice filled the auditorium.

Melo’s personal style of interpretive dance paired with his writhing on the stage had audience members singing with exuberance and watching his every move. The pure passion that connected Melo to the audience exemplified the band’s dedication to their performance and how genuinely excited they were to be in Denver.

On top of Melo’s individual performance, his stage chemistry with Holt was what stole the show. The two men were in  perfect sync with one another during every song, and the audience clearly loved their repertoire, passing smiles during songs like “Cocaine Jesus” and “Painkillers.”

In between songs—and even during a song—the band puffed oxygen to keep up the energy they put out to their fans. It was genuine interactions like this one—in combination with the carefully selected, artistic lighting choices—that created a unique experience for the listeners.

I had the opportunity to go backstage afterward, and in between their puffs of oxygen, the band mates explained how excited they were for the rest of the tour and how they could not believe they have been given this opportunity. Their slight southern twangs only highlighted how humble and kind each of them were.

“Looking at the shows that we have locked in for 2019, the band’s trajectory is only growing,” Fabie said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they became a festival headlining act in the next two years.”

As more tour dates and festival lineups like Badlands and Lollapalooza approach in the future, there are only rainbows and blue skies ahead for this band.

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