Concert Review: San Cristobal, Big Sherb, and Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers

October 24, 2014: The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor

After finishing up the interview with Joe Hertler, my cousin, Jen, and I went up to stand in line and wait for the doors of The Blind Pig to open up. We started talking to the couple behind us and found that they actually travel all around finding great local bands to check out. They were in Ann Arbor because, like us, they had caught Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers before and couldn’t miss the chance to see them live again.

The singer for the first band looked oddly familiar but it wasn’t until I heard the first song from San Cristobal that I realized that it was Jacob Sigman, which was one of the first album reviews that we did that did really well. The band is a 5 piece complete with keyboard and a cellist giving the band a nice, full sound. San Cristobal kicked off their set with “Silas” from Sigman’s Virginia EP. It’s been a while since I listened to the EP, but hearing this song was a great reminder of how much I liked it. We were also treated to two more songs, “Street Tower Ladies” and “Barcelona Sunrise” from Sigman’s solo EP as well as new music from the guys which sounded a bit closer to Billy Joel than Sigman’s baroque and folk sound from his EP. The bouncy beat of the new tracks “Mr. Wise Man” and “Lovely Lisa”, which drop sometime this month, got the packed crowd at The Blind Pig ready for the rest of the evening.

Next up was Big Sherb who I had never heard of but seemed to be a local favorite of the University of Michigan students that that filled the bar that night. The guys started their set with a great bass drive track that had the crowd moving along to the beat. The funk / fusion / jam feel of Big Sherb isn’t really my cup of tea but Adam Marth has a lot of vocal talent and the guys clearly know what they’re going musically. They kept the crowd moving through their entire set even through the tracks that were just them jamming along which is definitely not always an easy task. The crowded floor never stopped moving and clapping along as Big Sherb jammed on.

Finally the moment the crowd had been waiting for had arrived. Joe Hertler and his massive 7 piece band took the small stage literally filling it from corner to corner. Just like last time, saxophonist Aaron Stinson was decked out rather oddly in a thick fur coat draped over his shoulders and some misshaped glasses while Hertler donned his signature rainbow cape. Hertler was all smiles as he waved enthusiastically to the packed crowd while his band got ready to perform. The crowd broke into a non-stop dance fest as soon as the band started to play, someone on the floor had brought balloons and began blowing them up and tossing them around as everyone sang along loudly to the chorus of the first song.

Judging by the looks on the faces of Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, I’m guessing they weren’t expecting this kind of welcome at the Blind Pig. I think during their hour and a half long set I didn’t see the smile fall off of Hertler’s face once and it always adds to the atmosphere when the band is clearly having as much fun as the fans. The crowd sang to all the old hits, growing almost to a deafening roar when the guys began to play “No Money (Jetski)”. It’s a nice easy going track with a great summery vibe that, along with the warmth from all the bodies packed into the small venue, helped make it fell like July and not the end of October.

It’s probably the most excited I’ve seen any group get at The Blind Pig which definitely helped to make it one of my favorite experiences of the year. Even Hertler seemed to be surprised at the sheer energy surrounding him and his band, saying “wow you really know all the words” during one song. We got a decent mix of old songs and a great sneak peak at some new music from the album. Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers definitely know how to put on a show which when mixed with the hype that keeps growing around them puts them on the brink of breaking out.