Everynight Charley

Rainbow Kitten Surprise at Webster Hall / May 9, 2024

Allow me to get some awkwardness out of the way first. I very much enjoyed my first Rainbow Kitten Surprise concert 2019 and looked forward to seeing the band perform again on a future tour. The band canceled its following tour in 2023, however. I finally had the opportunity to attend my second Rainbow Kitten Surprise concert in 2024. The big surprise for me was that I walked into Webster Hall not knowing that the long-bearded Sam Melo I saw in 2019 had transitioned in 2022 to Ela Melo. I had not kept up with the band in the five years between tours. Perhaps I was not the only unaware fan in the audience.

More than a decade since forming in college in North Carolina, Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s recent hiatus offered the band various windows to reinvent itself. Melo sought professional help in 2023, and was diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder. This reversed her writer’s block and opened the floodgates to new authenticity in her songwriting. She also explored new high and low tones in her vocals on the new songs. Even the core indie-folk root of the band’s music gave way to new and more electronic sounds. As a final sign of rebirth, the band parted with bassist Charlie Holt just before the tour began. Melo continues fronting the band alongside lead guitarist Ethan Goodpaster, rhythm guitarist Darrick “Bozzy” Keller, and drummer Jess Haney, alongside touring musicians.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise would release its fourth studio album, Love Hate Music Box, the morning after the Webster Hall concert. The 22-song opus would be the band’s first full-length album of new compositions in six years. As such, the setlist for the band’s accompanying Tiny Music Box Tour would include seven new songs.

As the band appeared onstage at the beginning of the performance, the musicians except Melo wore regular street clothes. Melo wore a very loose, formless dress that bounced when she bounced and twirled when she twirled. Melo’s outfit hinted that she was there to have fun. She sang, she danced, and she engaged with the audience, sparking many rushes of good time vibes through the crowd.

The musicians more than adequately drove the songs. The synthesizer and the guitarists’ growing arsenal of pedal effects colored the band’s arrangements a little differently, especially when incorporated into older songs, without ruffling the sensitivities of Melo’s poetic visions. Melo impressed with her striking vocals. Rejecting surgical changes to her voice to match her new gender identity, she instead confidently addressed each song with appropriate tones and inflections, expanding her range like never before. Band members often supplemented with harmonies, always in support and not designed to cover shortcomings on Melo’s part.

In essence, Rainbow Kitten Surprise demonstrated that it is in a better place now. The band’s performance at Webster Hall remained faithful to the indie pop-rock of the band’s origins, yet also has grown into a much fuller sound. The evolution has not been so drastic as to turn off its core audience, even while challenging the faithful to accept a little more eclecticism and experimentation. Instead, it shone a light on a band that is more alive and well than ever. We can expect a big future for Rainbow Kitten Surprise.

Photo by Everynight Charley


  1. LOL
  2. All’s Well That Ends
  3. Hide
  4. Seven
  5. SVO
  6. Goodnight Chicago
  7. Devil Like Me
  8. Our Song
  9. Overtime
  10. First Class
  11. Fever Pitch
  12. Drop Stop Roll
  13. When It Lands
  14. Sickset
  15. That’s My Shit
  16. Meticulous
  17. Cocaine Jesus
  18. Matchbox
  19. Bearwalk


  1. All That and More (Sailboat)
  2. It’s Called: Freefall
  3. Superstar
Photo by Everynight Charley