On the night of Sunday September 22nd, my favorite band, Rainbow Kitten Surprise (RKS), performed at the Bethlehem Steel Stack’s Levitt Pavilion. From the start, I was standing just inches away from the stage, screaming at the top of my lungs. The concert took me on a captivating journey, reminding me of all the enjoyable moments I’ve had while listening to RKS.
The first thing people usually notice about the band is its captivating name. The group visited a friend after surgery, who kept muttering a humorous phrase while coming out of anesthesia. That phrase was: “Rainbow Kitten Surprise.” Founded in 2013, RKS had a humble beginning. Founding members Sam Melo (lead vocals) and Darrick “Bozzy” Keller (guitar vocals) started off playing open-mic nights at a local coffee shop. The group now consists of the founders plus the talented, Ethan Goodpaster (lead guitar, vocals), Charlie Holt (bass, vocals), and Jess Haney (drums). After only a few years, the unique band has an avid fan base, and has enjoyed success through spectacular concerts and three genre-defying albums. They offer a unique style of music, with a blend of alternative rock, hip-hop, indie rock, and classic folk.
The band gained national attention when featured on the VH1 reality show, “Make a Band famous.” RKS submitted the song “Devil Like Me” from its first album, “Seven + Mary.” They were a hit, and fans immediately voted them to the next round of the show in New York City. Though they were eliminated from the competition shortly after, the show gave them enough recognition to go on tour. It also led to the creation of the group’s 2015 album called “RKS.” The album’s songs “Cocaine Jesus” and “Lady Lie” were giant successes, and the band started to gain popularity. Since then, RKS has released a third album called, “How to Friend, Love, Freefall.” Just a couple months ago they also released two more songs, “Heart” and “No Vacancy”.
As soon as my friends and I approached the venue, I knew it was going to be a fantastic evening. There was a group of around 300 people, which created an intimate and exhilarating atmosphere. The crowd was composed of a healthy mix of Lehigh students and locals. Nearly everyone at the venue was a huge fan and was vigorously dancing and singing along to the music. The concert had an intense start, chilled out, and then gradually amplified to a crazy finale.
The band started off with the song “Matchbox.” Like many of RKS’ songs, “Matchbox” is a satire. It reminds me of the absurdity and irony of life. The song’s recording is already fast-paced, but performed live it was downright thrilling. I was up front by the stage taking pictures. I was so close, I could have touched Sam Melo. Between the screaming fans and the crazy summersaults Melo was doing, it was impossible not to be enthralled by the opening songs. Then, the performance mellowed out. RKS played the song “Seven,” which is my go to sad song. A short time later “Cocaine Jesus” came on, which portrays the short-term salvation and long-term emptiness that comes from drug use and casual relationships. Then, the band played “All’s Well That Ends Well” , which increased the energy level again. The song speaks of the beauty of love, and the pain when the love is not recipricated. Since the band only has a few albums, they were able to play nearly all their songs. Almost everyone in the crowd knew the words, which made singing along very enjoyable.
The concert ended after an hour with a rousing rendition of “That’s My Shit.” But the show wasn’t fully over as the band returned for an encore. Of course, a band playing an encore is not uncommon. What was unique, however, was that RKS’ encore lasted for around twenty more minutes! That’s when things really heated up. Every member of the band was enthusiastically dancing, leaping and bounding around the stage, and Charlie Holt started busting out intense guitar solos. The bright strobe lights shined with every extreme pluck of his guitar strings. Jess Haney also started ripping some fierce drum solos. At this point, the audience was also at its peak excitement level, and the atmosphere was breathtaking. With every additional song, the applause grew louder and louder, with everyone stunned that RKS continued to play.
Finally though, like all good things, the concert had to come to an end. The band thanked everyone for coming out, and the Levitt Pavilion lawn slowly returned to emptiness.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise songs evoke a wide array of emotions in me. Their song “Hide” reminds me of falling in love. By contrast, “Holy War’‘makes me relieve painful breakups. Now,when I listen to any RKS songs I’m filled with only warm feelings as I’m reminded of such a wonderful concert spent with great friends.