On the second to last leg of their sold out “The Friend, Love, Freefall” tour, Rainbow Kitten Surprise brought their best to the stage of The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Company on Sunday evening.
In the summer dusk, supporters in their early 20s and later 30s gathered around with beers in hand to mingle in the outdoor courtyard of The Bridge. The El Sabor food truck offered shrimp, beef, al pastor tacos and grilled artichoke tapas to accompany the Santa Fe brewed beverages.
The adjacent food truck, Bruno’s, served 16 inch cheese, pepperoni, veggie, and sausage pizzas.
Small pockets of attendees lounged on a lush stretch of grass across from a brightly painted mural of mountains and balloons as the evening light softened. The four band members of the opening act, Wilderado, took the stage with electric guitars, buttoned up shirts and t-shirts. Their melodious rock tracks warmed up the stage for Rainbow Kitten Surprise.
Sam Melo, Darrick “Bozzy” Keller, Charlie Holt, Ethan Goodpaster and Jess Haney entered stage right to the audience chanting “RKS,” an abbreviation for the band’s name christened by early fans. Sam’s impressive beard, Charlie’s braided hair and Bozzy’s wire rimmed glasses represented their personalities on stage as the audience anticipated what would be performed first.
Bright white and purple strobing lights flared to the beat of the opener, “Fever Pitch” from their latest album, “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall,” an upbeat track that highlighted their peculiar mix of alternative, indie and hip-hop tones.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s genre-blurring sound is influenced by artists ranging from Schoolboy Q and Frank Ocean, to Modest Mouse and Kings of Leon. Such a blend of sounds puts listeners into chill, groovy moods.
“I didn’t know what (genre) to put them under,” said University of New Mexico junior Jackie Dacanay. “Something like alternative.”
Jackie added she watched Rainbow Kitten Surprise on the stages of Austin City Limits Festival after first hearing of them about a year ago.
Since their formation in 2013, the quintet has played in festivals spanning from Bonaroo in Manchester, TN to Outside Lands in San Francisco, CA. Those stages are far from their small town roots in Boone, NC.
It was in the dorm rooms of Appalachian State University that Sam Melo and Darrick “Bozzy” Keller decided to start writing and recording music together. Shortly after the creative partnership was formed, the group’s unusual name followed. Not only does their name capture attention, so does their stage presence.
Bassist Charlie Holt moved with the beat in a heavy manner as his long hair exaggerated his movements. Drummer Jess Haney was often seen smiling from ear to ear behind the kit. With a flurry of expressive hand gestures and dance moves, lead singer and keyboardist Sam Melo moved around the entire stage enchanted by the words he was singing.
Although RKS lyrics have always been thoughtful and personal, “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall” is their most introspective album yet.
As the night progressed the band made sure to not leave older albums in the dust. They played “Lady Lie” and “Cocaine Jesus” from the self-titled 2015 album “RKS.” Tracks “Devil Like Me” and “First Class,” amongst others, were selected to represent the 2013 album “Seven + Mary.”
The band continues to defy classification of their music in their newest album which carries lyrical nuggets of wisdom on how to treat others and yourself.
Yana Apostalon is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @yana_aposta.