On their new record How to: Friend, Love, Freefall, Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s influences are immediately clear, seamlessly melding genres. Live, the songs transform into something much more singular. Led by Sam Melo’s commanding stage presence, RKS whipped the Wonder Ballroom into a frenzy for 90 minutes, hardly coming up for air between songs. The rhythm section—Jess Haney (drums) and Charlie Holt (bass)—thumped and hummed beautifully, while the guitars—Darrick "Bozzy" Keller and Ethan Goodpaster—were precise and powerful. The individual performances were showcases in musicianship on their own while never sounding out of context within the whole of the band. It was simply some of the best rock orchestration in recent memory.
This band did not stumble into their recent accolades, and they certainly do not seem intent on faltering as they continue their ascent. Their set was clearly rehearsed, road tested and worked into the tight barrage they unleashed on Portland this past Saturday night. The sold out crowd at the Wonder Ballroom—crammed together though they were—managed to dance and stomp through the entire performance, singing just about every lyric to every song. The only complaint of the night: Another beer would have been nice, but it was impossible to look away.