Rainbow Kitten Surprise closes out 2022 in Atlanta

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“You could let it all go”

 

2022, to me, felt like the third 2020 in a row. As we navigate the post-COVID malaise, some aspects of our experience are back to their full version of normalcy, while others exist in the awkward in-between as we parse through this new world. The world of live music and touring exists in that in-between — shows are back, but bands are canceling tours at an alarming clip, citing instability in the touring industry. Ticketmaster pissed off fans of all populations, Swifties and Death Cab fans alike. Fan behavior at shows has progressed to heights of unprecedented assholery. Matty Healy is kissing everyone he can. It sure does feel good to be back and to be actually, fully, back — but more often than not, it feels like something’s been off for most of 2022.

 

“I know I should’ve been more vocal / Sure, I could’ve been more social”

 

Closing out the New Year at a show is always a tricky balance — fans want to party, and more often than not, the band falls victim to being an attraction at a party rather than the centerpiece of the night itself. I can think of plenty of NYE shows I’ve covered that I’ve inevitably left early because of fans talking and treating it like a social hour. This is where we enter Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s triumphant closing show of 2022 at The Eastern in Atlanta, GA. Capping off a completely sold-out three-night run at the venue, it was startling to feel the pure, unfiltered love in the room to close out the iffy year of 2022. This is par for the course at RKS shows — their set in March at The Caverns in Tennessee was one of my first times to see them, and even then I could sense that the love between their fans and the band is unparalleled to any other band at their level. The fans weren’t there for just any New Year’s Eve party; they were there to celebrate it with the band that meant so much to them. Signs were prominent throughout the Atlanta crowd professing their adoration for the band, and even in watching the show afterward, it felt like the greatest crowd I worked with in 2022.

The band’s live prowess is another subject entirely — gone are the days of the packed 200-cap clubs and mid-day festival sets for RKS. They are a powerhouse and probable festival headliner now, with every member of the band playing as an integral cog of the machine that brings listeners in closer with every note. Ela Melo’s unbridled energy on stage (while still hitting every damned note) juxtaposes perfectly with the harmonies of her partner-in-crime Bozzy Keller, and the highlights of the shows are when the two of them and bassist Charlie Holt come together to center stage with a comradery that lifts the RKS live experience beyond a basic rock show. The first set sprinted through every era of the band’s discography — songs like “First Class” and “Hide” elicited mass euphoria, and jammier sections like “Matchbox” let drummer Jess Haney and guitarist Ethan Goodpaster erupt for jam sessions.

 

 

“I got some radio wires soldered to my heart / You’re the only thing that’s coming in”

 

As the clock struck midnight after the band returned with “That’s My Shit”, the crowd exploded with glee — leading to a moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my year. Like clockwork, the band dived into “It’s Called: Freefall”, leading to a sing-a-long of 4,000 strong that centered on the lines “You could let it all go”. Here was your chance to let it all go — a new year, and a new opportunity to renew yourself in one of the most beautiful environments imaginable. 2022 went out with a bang with Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and to watch them grow is to ingratiate yourself into a community that’s more loving than you could dream of. In a year where things might’ve felt just a little bit off, everything felt completely right with Rainbow Kitten Surprise in Atlanta.

 

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The night opened up with a set from Birmingham, AL’s The Brook and the Bluff, who had a similarly rapturous year as they toured with acts like RKS and Mt. Joy, and also sold out their own headlining gigs all over the country. The five-piece have made a name for themselves behind their impressively engaging live show, and this gig was no exception. The harmonies have never been tighter, and this band is becoming a live machine — and with the premiere of some new, 80s-infused tracks and a kickass cover of The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done”, the foundation has been laid for the soulful group to explode in 2023.

 

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