Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers concluded Sonic Lunch with summer vibes


Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers  at Sonic Lunch

Photo by [|Leisa Thompson], courtesy of the Bank of Ann Arbor and Sonic Lunch. See the full gallery […].

The 2017 season of the Sonic Lunch free concert series wrapped up Thursday with Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers playing to an appreciative crowd.

Over its 10-year history, Sonic Lunch has become a key part of summer in Ann Arbor, and the band provided a laid-back, seasonally appropriate sound, blending jam-band rock and neo-soul with accents of ’70s pop and funk.

The songs were drawn largely from the Michigan-based band’s most recent album, Pluto, which features somewhat more serious lyrical material than their earlier work -- sometimes addressing trust, death, and other weighty concerns. But on Thursday, the words took a back seat to the mellow groove that had a number of fans dancing throughout the show.

Opener “Crimson Line” demonstrated all the band’s varied musical elements, with shimmery keyboards and saxophone set against a Ryan Hoger guitar solo that was pure album rock. “Feel,” off their previous album, Terra Incognita, brought the band’s funky side to the forefront. And “Future Talk,” from the same album, nicely showcased Hertler’s soulful vocals.

The catchy favorite “No Money (Jetski)” brought cheers of recognition from the crowd, which numbered several hundred. That song was one of several highlighted by a smooth and flawless Aaron Stinson saxophone solo.

Late in the set, a cover of Thundercat’s “Oh Sheit It’s X” turned into a disco-flavored, extended jam. It gave Hertler the opportunity to work in a lyrical shout-out to Sonic Lunch -- and also to wave a large State of Michigan state flag to the crowd.

The band closed out their set and the Sonic Lunch season with two of the strongest tracks from Pluto, the neo-soul “Old Love” and the upbeat “Lonely,” drawing some of the day’s loudest cheers.

After the show, Sonic Lunch organizer Matthew Altruda said he’s already thinking about next year’s 11th season of the concert series. Hey, next summer is only nine months away.

Set List:
Crimson Line
No Money (Jetski)
Future Talk
Find Me
Show & Tell
Captain America
What It Feels Like to Drown
Oh Sheit It’s X
Old Love

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

[|Check out our in-depth interview] with Joe Hertler from March 2017 before The Rainbow Seekers' record-release concerts for "Pluto" at The Blind Pig.