Rainbow Kitten Surprise: Queer, Joyous Freedom @ Red Rocks

Rainbow Kitten Surprise: Queer, Joyous Freedom @ Red Rocks

July 16, 2022 Off By Isobel Thieme
Photos: Elektra Records

“Who’s here with their best friends?” Asked Ela Melo, lead singer of groovy & unabashed rock band, Rainbow Kitten Surprise. After waves of loving and wooing confirmation, Ela replied in a sweet, smiling, and saccharine tone, “Me too.”

Melo, who came out as transgender recently just before the band launched their highly anticipated tour, entranced Red Rocks with her gripping voice and graceful presence earlier this week. She and the well-loved band were accompanied by their best friends for two nights of dancing, kicking, and disco balls at the beautiful amphitheater.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise (Photo: Elektra Records)

And on top of all that gorgeous sound were thousands of ardent fans belting out every story-like lyric right back to them. Darrick “Bozzy” Keller’s background vocals and guitar also captivated the audience, bringing even more excitement to the vibe with assorted sounds that were somehow surprising and familiar all at once.

Two sold-out nights at Red Rocks, with fans squeezing into every square inch the iconic amphitheater, demonstrates the niche and intimate following that RKS has managed to cultivate. As a band with only three albums spanning nearly a decade, the numbers and wild antics of their manic fans only made this more clear. Every track was bolstered with beautiful people singing in unison and ecstatic jumping and dancing that’s only possible with music that they feel close to, and free to celebrate with all of their best friends.  

Something I have always found special about Red Rocks is its ability to host and hold any artist and their fans so perfectly. The natural aesthetics of the venue seem a perfect setting for artists of all persuasions, providing a neutral, yet emotive setting for performers to connect with their audience in an intimate and undistracted way. 

There is something so comfortable about Rainbow Kitten Surprise and their music.

RKS harnessed this neutral stage with an effortless confidence. Kicking off their set with “Hide,” their 2018 “clear nod to the LGBTQ+ community, detailing the freedom that comes with being unapologetically yourself,”* made the vibe of the night belonging, inviting, embracing, and fun. Each musician atop their own platform displayed the essential nature of each of their own unique talent. Altogether, the band spent a magnificent evening delivering an inspiring, bright sampling of their discography bathed in a sparkling light show. 

Rainbow Kitten Surprise (Photo: Aubrey Denis/Elektra Records)

There is something so comfortable about RKS and their music. The way their lyrics ask listeners to consider vulnerable feelings and thoughts through one-of-a-kind prose, while their music provides an equal amount of upbeat, joyous sound to compose balance. Bassist Charlie Holt is essential in the balance, musically creating many of the notes that we cling to, and bringing a cheerful energy as the whole band skips and leaps across the beautiful open stage.  

This show came just a few days before their remaining July and August tour dates were canceled, but even before we all knew this RKS’ Red Rocks show felt so much more special than others (I just saw one of my faves of all time, The Avett Brothers, just the night before, so i have something fresh – and brilliant – to compare it to).

In a world hungry for inspired, freeing, heartfelt joy, Rainbow Kitten Surprise not only brings just that kind of comforting satisfaction. And then the band goes on to challenge us to ask for more.      

*This article was written in January of 2019, preceding Ela Melo’s transition. 

Rainbow Kitten Surprise Setlist – July 11, 2022*


*Setlist from Setlist FM