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Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

September 25, 2019

Rainbow Kitten Surprise Performs at the State Theatre

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After the collision course that was the first few songs of Illiterate Light’s set, the lead singer told the crowd, “We’ve got a few more songs, if that’s alright.” Many cheered, and I replied with a delayed “No thank you,” even though it wasn’t really a question. While I found the majority of their set to be monotonous and fairly overbearing, their last song “Growin’ Down” was actually something I would consider listening to on my own . . . however, just as I thought I was coming around to their set, the microphones gave out and my wish had been granted.

But I didn’t come for the opening act; I had come for Rainbow Kitten Surprise. As the first semester has transitioned into a boring routine, the homework has piled high and Ithaca’s weather has rapidly become crisper, a prescription of Rainbow Kitten Surprise was the perfect dosage of zest and enthusiasm that I had been craving.

Every single song they played was a hit. Every. Single. One. Between their opening song “Matchbox” to “Devil Like Me” to “Holy War,” Rainbow Kitten Surprise truly couldn’t go wrong because they have no bad songs in their discography. There were rainbow lights and surprises (unfortunately, there were no kittens). There were floral leggings and there was a smooth, ever-changing cycle of instruments. There were Rockette-esque kicks and an unignorable sense of collective effervescence.

Perhaps the most exceptional element of the concert was the dynamic of the band, the type that couldn’t be felt through headphones or speakers, but needed to be seen. Each member left their distinct impression, and no member overpowered any other. Lead singer Sam Melo regularly shifted between strutting on the front of the stage to the keyboards towards the back of the stage, next to the drummer Jess Haney who was constantly smiling. Lead guitarist Derrick “Bozzy” Keller was quick to fill in with jumping and dance moves, and bassist Charlie Holt made the concert feel personal through a kaleidoscopic presence. And when the acoustic pressure mounted on guitarist Ethan Goodpaster, he shined, and it was all incredibly humbling. Unlike many bands which depend on the lead singer to be a frontman, the interdependency of Rainbow Kitten Surprise made the concert even more compelling.

In between the high-energy of “Goodnight Chicago” and intensity of “Cocaine Jesus” — a song whose lyrics will forever be ingrained in the minds of devoted RKS fans — loomed gentler ballads like “All That and More (Sailboat),” which proved to be a crowd favorite. Their latest releases, “Heart” and “No Vacancy,” flowed so seamlessly that their impression felt just as strong as the songs that had been on the minds of fans for years. RKS truly proved themselves as a shape-shifting band.

As I was dreading the end of the concert, hanging on to their encore’s, I was reminded by one of their lyrics; “All is well that ends well, but all is well that ends.”

Odeya Rosenband is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at omr7@cornell.edu.