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What You Missed: Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Rainbow Kitten Surprise spent a sold out night at The Sylvee--their second time doing so--with special guest Twen on Sunday night, and we stopped by to take a listen. Check out our recap below!


Twen are rising stars, undoubtedly. After opening up for indie sweethearts, Wet Leg, in Austin, Twen join Rainbow Kitten Surprise for their first leg of the 2023 World Tour. Despite being a fairly new band, they feel really refined, especially on their 2022 project, One Stop Shop, where they take on a Fleetwood-Mac-meets-Led-Zeppelin psychedelic rock sound with a modern sharpness.

They're good performers too, opting for a high-energy set that shows off their smart songwriting and knack for melody. They have to stop their set twice to grab medical attention for people in the crowd, but when they restart, it's clear that the audience doesn't mind hearing it again.

From sound to stage, they're a polished group, and they've obviously grabbed a handful of new fans in Madison.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Despite their name implicating them as a kids band, Rainbow Kitten Surprise is a folk-inspired rock band that takes on psychedelic and indie sounds all in one. Their discography consists of three major studio albums, and their last project dropped in 2018. Despite the four year release hiatus, it's clear that this band's heart is in touring, and their audience is only growing.

This is their second time headlining and selling out The Sylvee, and even though they could probably hit bigger venues in Milwaukee, they obviously find a home in Madison. Their sound is comfortable in a city like ours, where our best-selling acts tend to lean towards indie rock.

Their setlist is a longer one, ranging from songs like "Painkiller" which is brighter and warm (although lyrically sad) to songs with more grit like "Cocaine Jesus." To my ear, they have a consistency between albums and singles, especially in their 2015 and 2018 albums. I think it's possible that songs blend together for a more casual fan, but this crowd knows all the words. They take stage at 9:15 and perform right up to 11pm with few breaks for talking between songs.

If you've ever listened to RKS, you might expect them to have a stiller audience; instead, they sequence their setlist so that there's regular bursts of energy, and they lean into the beat-driven tracks. There's plenty of movement and dancing among the crowd, even with the pit as crowded as it is.

They end their encore with one of their shortest songs, "It's Called: Freefall." Everyone knows it and sings along, anticipating the big outro, which makes the whole building move. They smile as they exit the stage, and so does everyone else.

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