By Bobby Talamine
A Packed house at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, waiting patiently for Rainbow Kitten Surprise on a very cold and frigid night. Not so cold inside the venue when I arrive for this performance- it feels downright balmy. And the excitement and anticipation for RKS to take the stage: the definition of crazy.
Have to say from last year’s Lollapalooza, when RKS took to the Tito’s Stage in the late afternoon and the place was packed times ten for that performance, to the present day- nothing to go but up. Honestly, they’re the most unlikeliest of rock stars- by the way they dress, their under the radar appeal.
Make no mistake- the fans know the lyrics to each and every song, and squeal in delight when lead vocalist Sam Melo shimmy’s and shakes, and does the occasional leg kick into a twirl and then a summersault. Clearly the man has a cool vibe of quirkiness about him- like he’s in on the joke that he could easily be driving for Uber right after the show to make a living.
The show itself had a rather bumpy start, with the scheduled set time for exactly 9:15pm, but lo and behold, microphone problems leading into guitar tech problems, and suddenly a half hour goes by and the crowd is getting a bit antsy to say the least. Finally, everything fixed, and the band takers the stage with not much fanfare, and a polite apology comes from Sam, stating that “shit happens”, and “it is what it is”.
Then, we’re off to the races, charging right into their opener “Matchbox”, into the delightful song “Freefall”, and a freefall it is, with lots of twirling and fist bumps from everyone in the band, leading into Sam Melo’s stretched leg kick and tumbling about onstage. They more than make up for the half hour late start, and by the show of things from the crowd, it’s long forgotten.
A Rainbow Kitten Surprise show is understated enthusiasm from beginning to end; a band that relishes in visible song and dance, and let’s leave the confetti canons and blinding white strobes for other bands, and let our fun music do the talking. They do have sophisticated lasers during their show on this tour, but they’re used in such a way that punches up the solid blue and magenta hues, and just adds enough polish to delight in all things “rock concert”.
It’s a treasure to see the band perform live, like each and every song is special, and the vocals from Sam Melo just soar above and beyond, and fill the listening room of the Riv, accompanied in time with the pulsing lights. This kind of energy ran high throughout the night, thoughtful and personal vibes from band to audience, and audience back to band, all the way though to the encore.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out that’s the case no matter where they play. Positive vibes from a positive band, with lyrical and musical nuggets throughout.
Openers MT. Joy brought their hazy rock / folk vibe with them to the Riv, like a leisurely stroll through Millennium Park in Chicago in the summer, taking in the vibes and scenery. They have a laid back vibe about them, sure, and yet Matt Quinn (lead vocals/ guitar) has a questioning sincerity about him, stating observations of life’s unpredictability and surrounding yourself in brotherhood and friendship. A pleasant opening set from Mt. Joy, leading into all things Rainbow Kitten Surprise.
For more on Rainbow Kitten Surprise, click here
For photos from the show at The Riv, click here
Setlist: Rainbow Kitten Surprise February 8, 2019
3. Mr. Redundant
5. All That and More (Sailboat)
6. First Class
8. Devil Like Me
9. Cocaine Jesus
10. When It Lands
12. No Vacancy
13. All’s Well That Ends
14. Holy War
15. Pain Killers
16. Goodnight Chicago
17. Fever Pitch