Rainbow Kitten Surprise Capture First Avenue


The last time we saw Rainbow Kitten, they played a packed Entry just over a year ago. Last night they returned to the scene of the crime, but as repeat offenders moved the show to the mainroom and, guess what, sold it out again. The photographer who had covered them was on a different assignment but “strongly recommended” that someone better be in attendance. So off I went……..

CAAMP from Ohio opened and while the guys were doing their final instrument tuning, the crowd erupted in cheers and various animal noises. Their sound has bluegrass roots but strong indie rock influences. Normally a duo of Taylor Meier and Evan Westfal, they Matt Vinson on bass. A lot of fans had come early to see them and from the sound of it, they were not disappointed. There seemed to be a special relationship fans had with Taylor Meier’s hat as it got loud cheers when put on the mic stand, and even louder ones when it peaked out the side of the curtain after the set when CAAMP put away their instruments.

Going from the Entry straight to the Mainroom (without the usual Turf Club, Fine Line) progression may seem like a meteoric rise by First Ave standards. But in Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s case it is built on years of hard work. Their third album “How To: Friend, Love, Freefall” was just released a couple of weeks ago and the band’s tour has seen a number of sold out dates.

As they 5 band members walked on stage, singer Sam Melo started out behind the keyboard. I had listened to a couple of Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s older songs before the show, but I was caught off guard by the energy with which the band burst on stage (and so were my camera settings). What started out with dark red back lights and little movement – for all of 5 seconds) turned into fast moving action on stage that had me spinning the settings desperating trying to catch the next spin, jump or pose. At the same time, a grin started forming on my face – this was going to be fun.

The set maintained its energy and as I listened to it, the more impressed I became with the music. There are some pretty complex layers blended together. At times the guitar chords that reminded me of  the weaves I loved so much in Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. The 5 piece band all were active on stage the the focus was clearly on Melo who was always moving with an intensity that would make a whirling dervish jealous.

Needless to say, the crowd was all the way into the set and there was a good amount of dancing going on – as much as a sold out venue permitted. The crowd showed the group’s progression through their albums as their latest release seemed to pulling a younger demographic who mixed with the OG fans seamlessly.  To sum up, if Rainbow Kitten Surprise is coming to your town – get off your butt,and go see them.

Set List:  Fever Pitch \ Goonight Chicago \ American Shoes \ Seven \ It’s Called: Freefall \ Wasted \ Cold Love \ Holy War \ Matchbox \ Moody Orange \ Devil Like Me \ Cocaine Jesus \ First Class \ Hide \ All’s Well That Ends \  When It Lands \ Painkillers Encore: Possum Queen \ Police Company \ Recktify \ Run