The Record Company lifted Sonic Lunch "Off the Ground"


The Record Company at Sonic Lunch

The Record Company doesn't need a guitar to rock Sonic Lunch. Photograph by Christopher Porter.

“We’re The Record Company, and we play rock-n-roll,” frontman Chris Vos said in opening and closing Thursday’s Sonic Lunch concert. He didn’t really need to say it, since any doubts about that would have been wiped out by the raucous and energetic hour of music in between.

Thursday’s show marked the public return of Martin Bandyke, popular local DJ for WQKL (107.1-FM) and longtime Sonic Lunch MC, who is recovering from recent heart surgery. Vos dedicated the show to him before the trio launched full force into the blues rocker “On the Move” -- one of the highlights of last year’s acclaimed and Grammy-nominated debut album, Give It Back to You -- with Vos punctuating his intense vocals with some equally intense harmonica lines. That led into their latest single, “Baby I’m Broken,” which if anything ramped up the energy level even further.

“Hard Day Comin’ Down” and their single “Rita Mae Young” brought some slightly more country and pop elements into the show with no letup in intensity. “Feels So Good” served as the centerpiece of the concert, allowing Vos to stretch out with a virtuoso bluesy guitar solo but also showcasing the creative, melodic playing of bassist Alex Stiff before the two dueled to a furious musical climax.

The Record Company at Sonic Lunch

But The Record Company isn't adverse to rocking Sonic Lunch with a guitar. Photograph by Christopher Porter.

Vos made several references to the time of day; since the band is based in California, a noon show felt like 9 am to them. At one point he joked, “We’re just going to pretend we stayed up all night,” and in fact they played with all the fire of a Saturday night, anchored by the powerful drumming of Marc Cazorla.

The blues-rock groove continued through “Turn Me Loose” and “Don’t Let Me Get Lonely,” played to an appreciative crowd that may well have topped a thousand people. But the biggest audience reaction came when the trio played the opening notes of their biggest hit, “Off the Ground,” toward the end of the set. They wrapped up with their usual closing number, “The Burner,” bringing one last blast of blues-rock fire to the Sonic Lunch stage.

Set List:
On the Move
Baby I’m Broken
Hard Day Comin’ Down
Rita Mae Young
Feels So Good
Turn Me Loose
Don’t Let Me Get Lonely
Off the Ground
The Burner

Bob Needham is a freelance writer and the former arts & entertainment editor of The Ann Arbor News and

The Sonic Lunch free concert series, presented by Bank of Ann Arbor, continues at noon Thursdays through August at the corner of Liberty and Division streets in Ann Arbor. Next up: May Erlewine.