RECAP: Vulfpeck at Brooklyn Bowl New York on Friday, September 9, 2016

Posted on Monday September 12th in


Before entering the realm of this review, I would like to establish myself as a casual consumer of Vulfpeck and their music. I sometimes put their albums on because I really enjoy them. I see them at festivals because I always have a great time. But I’m certainly not a font of knowledge re: their history, discography, or methods. This is purely from the perspective of an appreciative layperson.

Brooklyn Bowl on a Friday night can have a Cheers feel about it. Everywhere one sees bright greetings of the same ilk and scores of familiar faces. By the time Vulfpeck took the stage, a crowd full of intensely devoted fans had already loosened up, stretched out, and girded their loins for the oncoming ballyhoo.

Vulfpeck’s set was so rich with eclectic, loving homage that I had a hard time keeping my referential wires uncrossed. Where the set shined with multi-instrumental talent, it did so powerfully through the masterful curation of original and adapted content. The set went everywhere: the opening number delighted many a heady jam Jewess with a funky klezmer riff and some Hebrew-flavored, groovy spoken word. The band joyously torpedoed their way through a charming cover of Stevie Wonder’s “These Days.” Legendary drummer Bernard Purdie—considered the most recorded drummer of all time—sat in for multiple romps with the full platoon of players. Rachael Price—the woman behind Lake Street Dive’s explosive vocals—delivered a captivating rendition of The Beatles “Something,” all while showing us just exactly how one should rock a pair of culottes. From the outset of “Christmas in L.A.,” Brooklyn Bowl was home to a way-out late-summer yuletide beach mixer. Through all the personnel or stylistic shifts, the mood and aesthetic of this cohesive, musically logical show felt surprisingly whimsical.

The members of Vulfpeck and their elated cohorts seemed to do it all. They rapped, beat boxed, danced, and scatted. Members of the band played multiple instruments throughout the set. They inspired the doofiest, dopiest, happiest dance moves across a multigenerational audience. They took us to church and they took us to shul. Rarely have I seen such a besotted, proud fan base as I saw raging this show. And what the fans give, Vulfpeck reciprocates in their palpable love for their craft. No one has more fun at a Vulfpeck show than Vulfpeck. There is an almost voyeuristic diversion in watching this group delightedly explore and share their prodigious talent. The resulting atmosphere is revelatory, celebratory and warm.

As a casual Vulfpeck consumer, my initial musical critique was that I was “totally blissed out on The Vulf.” While that assessment still stands—musicianship, sensibility, set curation, arrangement, chemistry and performance were all remarkable—the way the set made me feel was most striking. Vulfpeck’s show felt like a loving tribute to music and the people who both create and cherish it. In its tactful reverence, it is celebration of the enjoyment of music. And celebrate we did; as we sailed away on the S.S. Vulfpeck Interfaith Galactic Groove Vessel, I couldn’t help but feel at home.

Review courtesy of Sarah Finegold
Instagram: @djfinegold :: Twitter: @sarahfinegold


Photos courtesy of Brett Berman :: Instagram: @bcberman


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