You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

'Glee' star and U-M grad Darren Criss to perform free 2013 Sonic Lunch concert

By Jenn McKee

Previous coverage of Sonic Lunch

Previous coverage of Darren Criss


Darren Criss performs at a charity fundraiser in California earlier this month.

photo by Todd Williamson | AP

"Glee" (and "A Very Potter Musical") star and U-M grad Darren Criss has just announced some upcoming concert dates, and among them is a show that's part of Ann Arbor's free summer music series Sonic Lunch: on June 13 at 11:30 a.m. at the Michigan Theater.

All members of Criss' band will be U-M alumni who attended school at around the same time as Criss, who graduated in 2009. Theo Katzman will both open the show and perform with Criss. Tyler Duncan and Joe Dart, from former local favorite band Ella Riot/ My Dear Disco, and Jack Straton from Vulfpeck will also accompany Criss on stage.

"We are super thrilled to bring Darren Criss back to Ann Arbor for this very special Bank of Ann Arbor Sonic Lunch performance,” Tim Marshall, president and CEO of Bank of Ann Arbor (which sponsors Sonic Lunch), said in a prepared statement. “Sonic Lunch, in its sixth season, helps make Liberty Plaza in downtown Ann Arbor the coolest place to be for lunch on Thursday afternoons. Our support of the arts and culture in the greater Ann Arbor region has always been an important part of the fabric of our bank and Sonic Lunch is a really fun event to present annually to our community.”

The Ann Arbor appearance is part of a 16-city tour by Criss, and is the only date on the tour that's a free show. According to the tour announcement, "Criss will give fans a preview into his forthcoming album and perform hits from his 2009 self-released EP 'Human.'"

“I couldn't think of a better way to spend the summer than being on the road and doing live shows,” said Criss in the press release. “I wanted to do something bigger than what I've done before - more cities and new music. It's a real opportunity for me to connect with all the people who’ve supported me through the years, as well as a chance to get new folks excited. It's gonna be a party for everyone!”

In addition to starring on "Glee," Criss has also been part of the U-M-formed Team StarKid, which created "A Very Potter Musical" and other online sensations. He took over the starring role on Broadway in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," and this summer makes his movie debut in "Girl Most Likely" with Kristen Wiig.

Sonic Lunch curator Matthew Altruda has also announced that Motown superstar Martha Reeves and the Vandellas will kick off the popular series on June 6 at Liberty Plaza, the usual site of the Sonic Lunch concerts. The complete Sonic Lunch 2013 lineup is slated for a May 10 release.

Jenn McKee is an entertainment reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.


Jenn McKee

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Also, Criss appeared on "Today" on Monday, April 29 to talk about his upcoming tour, which quickly sold out everywhere:

Jenn McKee

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

An update from Sonic Lunch, via Facebook: "We just wanted to clarify that we will be giving away wristbands for the Darren Criss show the week leading up the concert in own wacky Ann Arbor way. There is no information at this time on locations or methods. We are only giving away a limited amount and the rest will be first come first serve at the door. VIP ticket holders will also have admission and their ticket will be considered a wristband." Stay tuned for more details.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

So awesome of him! Unfortunately, I believe this is the last day of finals for students.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

One word for thing...lame.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

i was just wondering this is really free? and how does that work do you reserve seating?

Jenn McKee

Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Yes, concerts that are part of Ann Arbor's Sonic Lunch summer music series are always free, and you don't/can't reserve seating. As of now - as I mentioned in reply to another comment here - first come, first served is the policy, and although Altruda is currently thinking that doors to the theater will open at 11 a.m. (with the opener Katzman taking the stage at 11:30 a.m.), no one will be surprised to find fans camping out - and the time that doors open may change between now and the performance date. Stay tuned.

Jenn McKee

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

Regarding the choice to have Criss' show in the Michigan Theater, rather than Liberty Plaza or Liberty St., Altruda wrote, "We didn't want to do a street event because we wanted a controlled environment with (no) fear of weather."

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

So cool. As U-M's musical theater seniors prepare to showcase in NYC in the next few weeks, let this be some serious motivation for them. A number of U-M musical theater grads are doing quite well, whether on TV or broadway. (

Jenn McKee

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

I think what's being differentiated is that Criss was a graduate of U-M's theatre and drama department, not its musical theater department. They're both under the umbrella of the school of music, but they're separate entities.

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

Yes, I know. That's exactly my point.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

Darren is a graduate of the U-M SMTD Department of Theatre & Drama.

Jenn McKee

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

Here's a video Criss posted on his YouTube channel to announced the tour:

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

"The Ann Arbor appearance is part of a 16-city tour by Criss, and is the only date on the tour that's a free show." --- that's pretty amazing! Sonic Lunch has seriously taken off and become a huge thing for downtown during the summer. What I'm wondering: do people come from outside of downtown during work for the shows?

Jenn McKee

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

As of now, the show will be first come, first serve - and no one (myself included) would be surprised to find hardcore fans camping outside the theater. However, though plans may change between now and June 13, Altruda is currently thinking that doors will likely open at about 11 a.m., with Katzman (the opener) taking the stage at 11:30 a.m. Stay tuned for more updates and news on this as the show gets closer.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

Yup! I used to come in from the metro Detroit area when My Dear Disco (now Ella Riot, but defunct, I think? or has less people?) would play Liberty Plaza. I may take the day off work and come in for this show as well. Is it just going to be first come, first serve? (do you think the line will start at like 8am or something crazy?)

Jenn McKee

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

My guess is that some people will be taking the day (if not more time) off and traveling from a good distance for this show. "Glee"/Blaine fans (and Team Starkid fans, for that matter) are pretty passionate about Criss.

Bob Needham

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Nicely done, Matthew Altruda. This should be a fantastic show -- what a great band.