Rainbow Kitten Surprise: The Band That Blessed Our Ybor Eardrums

Photo by Ysanne Taylor

Photo by Ysanne Taylor, That’s So Tampa

With a band name like Rainbow Kitten Surprise, you’d expect nothing less than a sprawling, enigmatic performance.

What the North Carolina rockers delivered to the sold out Ritz Ybor crowd was exactly that. Their fans were so passionate about their Tampa Bay debut appearance that the show was upgraded (no offense — just a capacity thing) from the Orpheum to the Ritz.

Photo by Ysanne Taylor, That’s So Tampa

Sun Seeker from Nashville opened the night for a capacity crowd that was game to sweat, dance and drink in the Tennessee sound.

Listen, we don’t really believe in love at first sight, but love at first listen is totally a thing after hearing Sun Seeker at their Tampa debut. Were all the songs bangers as the opening act assured before half their songs? Depends on what dictionary you use.

Photo by Ysanne Taylor, That’s So Tampa

Their music is trapped in time, from a bygone era. It’s like your first dewy-eyed trip to the planetarium as child. The cosmic lights, all encompassing sounds, the odd weightlessness that comes with a craned neck and restless legs was a pure escape. An absolute freaking Ybor City delight.

Dear Sun Seeker, Tampa Bay adores you. Come back soon.

Photo by Ysanne Taylor, That’s So Tampa

Transfixing rainbow lights dance across the stage. It’s the band’s vibrant bat signal and they answer the call.

The air is thick with anticipation — at this point the band could come out and read the telephone book to thunderous applause.

Photo by Ysanne Taylor, That’s So Tampa

Rainbow Kitten Surprise transcends its medium. It’s as if the Father John Misty’s lyricism had a folk-hop space baby with the spirit of Kings of Leon and the grit of the Southern rock scene.

Photo by Ysanne Taylor, That’s So Tampa

With his buttoned down, rolled up sleeves and character of a beard, lead vocalist Samuel Melo rapidly dances his way around the stage like an ethereal being is taking over his musical soul. The entire band writhes and stomps to rhythmical lyrics, rolling drums while they carve out their layered vocals. Their bassist, Charlie Holt, in a cropped mesh top and bejeweled eyes matches, almost pace for pace, the spinning whirlwind that is Melo.

Photo by Ysanne Taylor, That’s So Tampa

To say that Tampa is obsessed with Rainbow Kitten Surprise would be doing it a disservice.

Local alternative station 97x announced the morning after the show that they’re adding Rainbow Kitten Surprise to an already impressive 2-Day Lineup for this year’s Next Big ThingWe are eager to see what their return to Tampa Bay brings forth in the audience. On their first night in town, the crowd belts back lyrics to nearly every song. As the song “First Class” starts, the concert-goers are shouting, at times louder than the monitor, the words back at the band.

Photos by Ysanne Taylor, That’s So Tampa



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