As black clouds rolled over Asheville, NC’s Salvage Station on Thursday evening, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers instinctively came through town to offer their technicolor blend of pop-funk positivity. The Michigan-bred sextet is in a unique position where its upbeat energy either dissipates bad vibrations or bolsters good ones wherever the group may wander.
Opening up with the earworm riff of “Loser”, the show jumped right out of the gate as the band assumed a proper headlining machismo at this tour-closing gig. Dropping into the funky, disco backbeat of “Evening Coffee”, fans and the band alike settled in for a long night of music ahead.
Between songs, as Hertler did his frontman thing and welcomed the crowd back to the return of live music, a semblance of normality flowed through the crowd like the rushing waters of the adjacent French Broad river. What served as an even warmer welcome than Hertler’s beckoning, however, was the surely-missed “woos” built into the refrain of the “Passing Through” that followed.
Next, Hertler and his Seekers displayed the fruits of their labors during quarantine with the new composition “Again” before plugging their noses and taking fans deep “Underwater”. The ensemble throttled between divergent soundscapes of the lyric-based “Again” followed by the wide-open musical planes of “Underwater” in a bellowing statement of diversity. While Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers don’t hit listeners over the head with extensive jams, the improvisational passages are pointed and purposeful.
The show moved along at a brisk pace as the band rolled through “Disconnected” and “Crimson Line” with clear intentions. After over a year in quarantine, the band didn’t show up just to putz around and instead moved forcefully through a jam-packed setlist of fan-favorite classics as well as some newer experiments.
While Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers kept the show on the road, that didn’t prevent them from taking a moment to explore some sonic spaces. Following a sublime rendering of “Last Two Dinosaurs”, Joe and The Seekers welcomed guitarist Josh Collins of tour partner Proxima Parada up to the stage for “Beautiful Day”. What resulted was some of the most extensive and inspired improvisation of the night, with Collins utilizing a talkbox to show that while these acts project warm vibrations they can still get down and dirty like the best of them.
By the time Collins departed the stage, it was getting down to crunch time at Salvage Station. With a 10 p.m. curfew at the venue, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers kicked it into overdrive as they rocketed through a few more originals before time expired. While the ensemble definitely shifted into fourth gear it didn’t take away from the genuine connection the band shared with the crowd, with Hertler crooning to audiences with a giant rose in place of his usual oversized sunflower.
With time for one more, the band fired up “Death, Don’t Worry”. The carefree number was just what the CDC ordered following a year where society itself was paralyzed by a constant struggle with mortality. “Death, don’t worry about me,” Hertler bellowed to the crowds as the band closed out at 10 p.m. exactly. Death, don’t worry about me. COVID, don’t worry about me. Work tomorrow, don’t worry about me.
Scroll down to check out a gallery of photos from Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers at Salvage Station courtesy of Gina Marie.
Setlist: Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers | Salvage Station | Asheville, NC | 4/29/21
Setlist: Loser, Evening Coffee, Passing Through, Again, Underwater, Disconnected, Crimson Line, Catalyst, Feel, Last Two Dinosaurs, Beautiful Day , Karate, Old Love, Death Don’t Worry
 w/ Josh Collins