As I rushed to the Rainbow Kitten Surprise concert at the Sylvee this past Monday night, I had high expectations after their gig at Majestic Theatre last year, which was full of head-bang worthy rock-inspired renditions of their classics and an intimate feel despite Sam Melo’s overwhelmingly energetic stage presence.
However, this show was quite different from the last time I saw RKS — mellow undertones dominated, and I felt as though I was digging into a giant, steaming bowl of soul food during their set.
Their stage presence was expanded from their traditionally Melo-oriented performance to the whole band contributing, complete with Melo intermittently hopping on the keys, Darrick "Bozzy" Keller dancing it out and Charlie Holt’s notoriously glam jam sessions.
The show began with the almost-teeny-boppy song “Matchbox,” but the harshness of the instrumentals in the song were curved to give off a sweeter and cooler vibe. This sincerity continued with “It's Called: Freefall” and “Shameful Company,” which relaxed the crowd into focusing less on the typical catch-up with lyrics and rather immerse themselves into the stimulatingly funky experience.
RKS didn’t fall into this consistency, however, with an angsty twinge to “Hide” followed by the campy, remote “All That and More (Sailboat)” and a punchy but collected rendition of “First Class.”
It wasn’t until “Devil Like Me” that I felt as though their set was fitting the RKS archetype: exhilarating, antagonistic and bold.
"One of the most pervasive thematic differences between this set and the one at the Majestic last year was the heavy focus on vocals, translating into an emphasis on the funk and twangy aspects of their instrumentals."
One of the most pervasive thematic differences between this set and the one at the Majestic last year was the heavy focus on vocals, translating into an emphasis on the funk and twangy aspects of their instrumentals. The most clear example of this shift was their performance of “Cocaine Jesus,” a fan-favorite that typically induces a pit-wide stomp-and-scream session. However, this time they took the invigorating route — almost to a harrowing extent.
The soul food kept getting served up HOT with “When It Lands,” the dynamic “Holy War” and their groovy, roller-coaster-like shot at “Wasted.”
RKS even treated us to their new, unreleased song, “No Vacancy” which was, for a lack of better words, cool. It was during this song that I perceived the band as most connected: each representing a different set of gears and gauges to produce the harmony between the electric and the hip.
Their false-ending was the fun and upbeat “Pain Killers” and the clearly choreographed and performance-heavy “Goodnight Chicago.”
"It was their true ending, a compilation of the excited but composed 'Fever Pitch,' a grossly beautiful execution of 'Rectify' and last but certainly not least — the over-the-top badass 'Run' — that truly made the concert what it was."
However, it was their true ending, a compilation of the excited but composed “Fever Pitch,” a grossly beautiful execution of “Rectify” and last but certainly not least — the over-the-top badass “Run” — that truly made the concert what it was.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised to get a completely new RKS experience that ultimately showcased their depth, seriousness about their artistry and diverse intersection of folk, indie rock and hip-hop.
Sam Jones is an almanac editor for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of her work, click here.