Published on September 1st, 2018


With a band name like Rainbow Kitten Surprise, you’re bound to get some attention, as well as questions like, “Were you high?” (The name was actually born in a hospital room where they were visiting a friend being treated for bacterial meningitis.)

Hailing from Boone, North Carolina, this alternative rock quintet founded in 2013 has already performed at Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee, and Outside Lands in San Francisco, while their cowboy-themed music video for “Fever Pitch” has reached more than 1.5 million views on YouTube. To top that off, they have seven sold-out shows (three of them consecutive) on their current world tour for the album, “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall.” What exactly has made them so huge in just a few years?

Their wide appeal is most likely due to their diverse range of influences, from ScHoolboy Q and Frank Ocean to Kings of Leon and Modest Mouse. Tie those in with lush instrumentation and raucous guitars, and you get a somewhat r&b-tinged Avett Brothers sound that is accessible to everyone. Frontman Sam Melo’s occasional penchant for dressing in drag probably doesn’t hurt, either. The band’s jam-like live performances have Melo dancing around the stage in colorful jackets and pants, getting audiences excited and wanting more after each song.

“How to: Friend, Love, Freefall” is full of emotion and kitsch while still maintaining a chill vibe that’s also too catchy to ignore. “Hide” was written while Melo was struggling with his feelings of coming out as gay, and in “Fever Pitch,” Melo is rapping the lyrics in a fashion that many fans have compared to Ocean: “I think I might make you smile after dinner / Kick me under the table / I think that’s my in / And I think I came for that, what comes with it?”

In a May interview with Ones to Watch, Melo explained that the album title of “How to” is “a reflection of the past few years living together and managing the internal dynamics — five people adjusting to adult life and the pressures that come with it.” Rainbow Kitten Surprise are showing musical maturity beyond their years.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise and special guest Sun Seeker perform Sept. 19 at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale. rksband.com ~ Olivia Feldman

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