Recap: Vulfpeck at Brooklyn Bowl New York on September 8, 2016

Posted on Friday September 9th in

thank you @vulfpeck for everything ❤️ #BrooklynBowl #TheGameWinner #Vulfpeck

A photo posted by Danny Vargas (@dannyvargas92) on

What a year for Michigan’s Vulfpeck, which in only a half decade of existence laced up its running shoes and hauled ass up a mountain of popularity, nearing “new vanguard” status in the jamband world and collecting buzzy notices from all over as it knocks down major-exposure gigs like the recent Lockn’ Festival. And what do we have here: a three-night, sold-out, right-proper Brooklyn Bowl residency (with another one, across the big pond at Brooklyn Bowl London, to come). That’s a milestone worth crowing about.

But Vulfpeck doesn’t really crow — it’s more interesting than that. Here’s a band so comfortable in its confident cool, so assured of its own grip on classic funk, soul and groove flavors and how to grittily deliver them that when it actually gets to the stage what comes through beneath the lively personality is the business — the jazz-funk bona fides. People dig this because it feels — it’s real. And on the first of three nights at the Bowl celebrating its new album “The Beautiful Game,” Vulfpeck proved something else that may have been elusive to a younger band in previous years: the ability to carry an entire headlining show and sustain the buzz of a thirsty, discerning audience.

Finally got funkier with @annaulrich #vulfpeck #gamewinner #purdie #bkbowl

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At this show, “Vulfpeck” was as much a concept as a band, not least because the core, 4-piece band itself ballooned and contracted throughout a 90-minute set, adding members, shifting members into different roles, and working through well-chosen guests. Percussionist and Brooklyn native Richie Rodriguez was back there on the percussion rack; frequent cohort Cory Wong was in the mix to add alternately silky, alternately gnarly guitar counterpoint. Opener Joey Dosik came through for a few heartfelt confessions on vocals and keys (and later, on sax), as did trombonist Melissa Gardiner, as did singer Antwaun Stanley, who tore through “Funky Duck” and several other tunes like the showman he was born to be. And the man himself — announced special guest Bernard “Pretty” Purdie — took up the kit for the middle third of the show, radiating experience and cool, underpinning the band’s buoyant takes on Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne,” the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” and the Beatles’ “Something,” among others.

The setlist ended up not so much a list of songs as a frame around starts and stops: gorgeously gooey organ and clavinet fills, rippling bass, audience call-and-response, color and shading in all the ways someone can power a funk and soul tune. But none of it went on too long — there was no endless vamping or patience-testing search for ideas in grooves. There may have been more ideas to explore, but Vulfpeck prefers down-and-dirty economy — get to the point, stick to that point, hit that point. Very fun, and very smooth.

Words by Chad Berndston :: Twitter: @Cberndtson

Gimme a break. @vulfpeck @brooklynbowl #christmasinla #brooklynbowl

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