Whenever I try to tell a friend about Vulfpeck, I lack the proper words to describe the level of energy and happiness that the band has when they perform. My usual response is, “Just come see them.” I’ve been shooting Vulfpeck since 2013 when I found out about them through one of their band members, Theo Katzman. After one of his solo shows in Ann Arbor, he encouraged me to come to a Vulfpeck show the following weekend in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall two days before his own solo show there. Because I love Theo’s music, I decided to go and give it a chance even though I wasn’t familiar with the band.
If you’ve ever been at Rockwood Stage 2 in New York City, it’s a small venue with a small stage and they somehow managed to have a full sized piano, a keyboard (maybe even several of them), a drum set, a few guitars and a bass guitar on stage. Not to mention about 600 mic stands and 4 band members. About 2 minutes into their first song, I knew it was going to be a great show. Their level of enthusiasm is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That was 4 years ago and Saturday night in Brooklyn, they were even happier to be performing together, now on a much bigger stage at Brooklyn Steel.
Not only are they exceptional musicians, but they know how to put on a show and entertain an audience. Some of the shenanigans that you can expect at a Vulfpeck show are frequent and not always fast instrument changes. Many of the band members are multi-instrumentalists and they have managed to make switching instruments, sometimes mid song, an art form. Every so often, in the process of switching musical instruments, one of them will be left without one, so they have no problem hopping over to help play the drums or keys with their buddy or just grabbing a random percussion device.
And let’s not forget the musical guests! Antwaun Stanley provides vocals for a good number of their recorded songs, so he is usually in attendance and when he comes out on stage, the audience always goes crazy. The last two times I’ve seen them in Brooklyn, Cory Wong has been playing guitar with them for the entire set. He even disappears at one point and shows up in the balcony among the fans, playing guitar and rocking out. They also have various musical guests popping up on the stage to play an instrument or sing part of a song. I looked up at one point in the middle of the show and there were at least 12 musicians on stage!
One of the highlights of the show for me personally was when Jack Stratton’s mom appeared on stage and taught the audience how to do the dance she created for the song, “Funky Duck.” (see pictures of Mrs. Funky Duck below)
What I love most of all though is the true friendship that is so evident on stage as they are performing. Even with the guest musicians, they are often spotted hugging each other, giving high fives and fist pumping in between songs. The happiness and good vibes are contagious and what they give the audience reflects back, making them give that much more. The end result is a high energy show that leaves you wanting more. I heard they are going to make their Brooklyn shows an annual thing, and I cannot wait. Clear your weekends next September and go see them live and experience Vulfpeck, but get your tickets the minute they go on sale because their whole tour sells out pretty quickly.
Here are some of my favorite photos from Saturday. As you can see, the love and the passion they bring to their performance is evident in these photos.
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