Rainbow Kitten Surprise brings infectious energy to The Strand

Rainbow Kitten Surprise
featuring Caroline Rose

October 6, 2018 at The Strand

Say their name without smiling, I dare you.

Hailing from Boone, North Carolina, Rainbow Kitten Surprise blessed Providence with an energetic show on their second leg of the How To: Friend, Love, Freefall tour on October 6. This was RKS’s first time in Providence, and fans ranging from middle schoolers to folks in their 60’s all crowded in the Strand (formally known as Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel) to welcome the band. Since they began writing music in college in 2013, RKS has never been able to fit into a genre, and for good reason. Their sound is rooted in folk and country, floats within alternative and indie rock, and is influenced by hip-hop and R&B.

Photo by Juliette Paige for WRBB.

Opening the night was Caroline Rose and her band, who brought a bizarre and ridiculously fun energy to the Strand. They played a number of tracks from her newly released album Loner like ‘More of The Same’ and ‘Soul No. 5,’ as well as an eccentric cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic.’ The set was filled with priceless and entertaining moments, including a two-minute kazoo solo of Aerosmith’s ‘Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’ and a mid-set beer chug (which included Caroline crushing her beer can on her head).

Rainbow Kitten Surprise took the stage next, and it was so refreshing to see every member excited and enthusiastic to be there. Each member could have easily stolen the show by themselves: Jess Haney pounding his kit and smiling for every second of the set, Ethan Goodpaster jumping from the stage to a bar table during one of his solos, Darrick “Bozzy” Keller being a dad in his tucked-in collared shirt and acting out scenes while singing with Sam, Charlie Holt rocking his sheer tank top and letting the music consume and live through him, and Sam Melo pouring out his heart in his lyrics and dancing on every square inch of the stage. All five of them constantly exchanged energy with each other as they played through a 16-song setlist that covered tracks from all three of their albums.

Photo by Juliette Paige for WRBB.

The set was perfectly curated for the whole audience, too. They brought the energy up with popular tracks like ‘Cocaine Jesus’ and ‘Devil Like Me,’ which had old and new fans singing along to lyrics like “Is the devil so bad if he cries in his sleep while the earth turns / And his kids learned to say ‘f*ck you’ / they don’t love.” RKS also played a number of tracks from their newest album, which explores more improvisational speak-rap, and personally called out fans in the audience who knew all the words to complex songs like ‘Moody Orange’ and ‘It’s Called: Freefall.’

A highlight of the night was RKS’s performance of ‘Hide,’ a song written by Sam about his experiences of coming out as gay and hiding his sexuality from loved ones. He started the song by saying “love who you want to love,” and a unanimous supporting energy filled the venue as fans cheered and showed love for the band. Personally, hearing the song come to life was emotional and beautiful to me.

The band came back for an encore of ‘Run,’ which blew the energy through the roof. Everyone on stage and in the audience was on their feet dancing and my adrenaline was pumping. I left the venue smiling, refreshed, and ready for the next Rainbow Kitten Surprise show.

All photos by Juliette Paige

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