Review – Rainbow Kitten Surprise explored indie ballads and peach grooves at Red Rocks

Among modern rockers, indie stars and folk-inspired songwriters, few bands have achieved a level of cult fandom and universal respect like Rainbow Kitten Surprise (RKS). From their humble beginnings in the small town of Boone, North Carolina, the band have spent the last decade refining their distinct folk-rock blend and storybook lyrics, catapulting them to international stardom. Although they were away from home at their first of two sold-out shows at Red Rocks last night, their vibe screamed Colorado. And Colorado screamed for them. Featuring RKS opener Brinston Maroney, who also has a few indie-folk rock hits under his belt, the performance was passionate, fun and liberating.

Brinston Maroney’s floral style and innocent demeanor perfectly matches his sound. Showing off his sunflower hand tattoo and 70s-inspired outfit, he sang through a healthy batch of new and old songs with enough flair to keep the audience engaged throughout his performance, whether people know it or not. his songs. Crisp guitar riffs that occasionally dipped into alt-rock on tracks like the upbeat “Small Talk” gave way to familiar indie ballads like “Freaking Out on the Interstate,” where Maroney’s vocal talents got their chance. to shine before he leaves the stage in front of Rainbow. Kitten Surprise dynamic set.

RKS clearly had a lot of respect for Maroney, as they brought him out during their encore to perform a cover of Kate Bush’s 1985 viral hit “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”. Even though every band and DJ in the world is currently implementing this Stranger Things TikTok feel into their set list, it was fun to watch Maroney sing and dance along with RKS as they played their version of the retro tune.

RKS took a relatively simple approach at Red Rocks. Gone are the traditional bells and whistles common to Red Rocks special shows, replaced by a few simple orange light beams, a few subtle platforms for each performer to stand on, and a few disco balls used sparingly to blast fan favorites like “Cocaine Jesus”. of color as the rocks were colored with dazzling reflections of white light.

The band have done a great job combing through their decade-long catalog, exploring slow folk-rock on tracks like “Holy War” and peachy grooves like “Hide,” which sound just as good between the red rocks. giants than when paired. with a solo dance party in your kitchen while the morning eggs scramble.

It was great to see RKS lead singer Ela Melo embracing her identity and dancing freely around the stage in a flowing dress and colorful makeup. Melo, who recently came out trans in March 2022, gave an incredible vocal performance throughout the night. Similar to the lack of fancy production gimmicks, Melo didn’t go overboard with flashy vocal tracks or one-minute notes. Instead, she let her distinct voice drive each track to completion, sticking to the script and clearly having fun without getting carried away.

No one wanted the night to end; it was clear by the three-track encore that the band could go on all night, and the crowd would have happily stayed until the sun came up. But, as the night ended with unified cries of adoration and joyous appreciation, it was clear the group was saving energy for the second night. Praises buzzed down Red Rock’s massive staircase descent and a man dressed as Cocaine Jesus was spotted taking photos with his fans before the lights went down, wrapping up a night of great music and the vibes of the Monday night you might ask.

All photographs by Brandon Johnson.


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