IN PHOTOS: Rainbow Kitten Surprise made me cry

The North Carolina band held the Municipal Auditorium in the palm of their hand during their Nashville show.


Miguel Beristain

Vocalist Ela Melo during Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s set at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, as captured on Dec. 10, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

Miguel Beristain, Deputy Photography Director

I was introduced to Rainbow Kitten Surprise in late 2019 with their “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall” album, and, in 2022, “It’s Called: Freefall” was my top song on Spotify. I found myself lost in Ela Melo’s vocals, the band’s introspective lyrics and masterful storytelling. In April 2022, RKS performed at iconic Tennessee venue, The Caverns. For their stop this fall, they chose an equally cave-like venue in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.

Nashville-based Twen opened the night with a performance straight out of the ‘70s. Their energy channeled the spirit of rockstars past, blending Jane Fitzsimmons’s gritty voice with Ian Jones’s melodic guitar licks. 

The crowd murmured in anticipation and cheered as the lights turned off and the RKS logo flared to life above the stage. Bassist Charlie Holt addressed the crowd, “be true to yourself,” before the band kicked into “All That and More (Sailboat).”

RKS’s music has you dancing and having fun while feeling melancholy and nostalgic. Songs like “Painkillers” with a painful but optimistic message which resonated with me and the rest of the audience: “Living just comes with a bit of heartache/ Heartache comes with a bit of young faith/ Faith stays young till your heart get broken/ Hope grows up to become someday.” The melodies touch your soul and the lyrics pull at the fabric of your being. The intense spiritual imagery in their songs makes each concert feel like a sermon. 

The masterful array of lights elevated the experience, at times making the stage look greyscale before exploding into a harmony of colors. The crowd wasn’t silent for a second. Melo addressed the crowd by reminding them, “Nashville, you’re where you’re supposed to be.” I joined them in screaming lyrics  from the songs “First Class” and “Goodnight Chicago.” 

Before ending the night, Melo recounted a story from the band’s early days: “The first time we ever played Nashville we played at the Exit/In…you guys have been the fuel behind our journey and have shaped us.” Then, they kicked into their biggest hit, “It’s Called: Freefall.” The opening lyrics sounded throughout the arena, and the fans chanting the lines were almost louder than the band. Later Melo pointed the microphone at us to sing the iconic “Called to the Devil and the Devil said/ Hey! Why you been calling this late?” lines. 

This concert was undeniably one of the most cathartic events I’ve had the pleasure of attending. People around me were crying and dancing but, most of all, were connected through our love for the songs that touched the fabric of our being. RKS let us be vulnerable for a night while connecting total strangers through their music.