On Friday night, Vulfpeck made their highly anticipated return to Los Angeles, and boy, did they bring the funk with them. From start to finish, they played with endless energy and had everybody in the intimate downtown LA theater that is the Regent Theater dancing and singing (in harmony)! The night kicked off with the Jacob Mann Big Band, and they got the party started early. The 10+ piece band filled the stage and filled the room with the beautiful sound of blending horns and smooth piano from Jacob Mann. The highlight of their set came at the end, where a guest was brought up to do a five-minute long freestyle rap and nailed every line. Jacob Mann fed him random topics (the pinnacle of which was “Guisados tacos”) and the rapper didn’t miss a beat.
Next up was Joey Dosik. He walked on the stage solo, which was a big change from the large band that was on before him, but he immediately commanded a presence onstage with his a capella opener. With each song, he added another member from Vulfpeck to the stage, culminating in an awesome rendition of “Game Winner,” where Joey’s smooth vocals combined with his fantastic storytelling to get the whole audience singing “Fourth quarter babe / I’ll hit the game winner.” He played well to the NBA Championship-hungry LA crowd, musing that Lonzo Ball will hit the game winner “when the Lakers play the Cavs in 2025.” Overall, Joey’s incredible talent shined throughout his set, and he left the audience hungry for more, which it would soon receive.
The audience knew it was in for a quirky treat from the moment that Vulfpeck was introduced to the stage like a baseball starting lineup (“batting cleanup, on the Fender Precision Bass, hailing from Minneapolis Minnesota, Joe Dart!”). Then the first note of “Fugue State” rang out in the Regent, and the party really began. The funk flowed through the whole room as the band jumped between instruments effortlessly and soon the entire room was dancing to the beat. The band started with just four members on the stage — Jack Stratton on drums (and a wireless microphone headset), Theo Katzman on guitar, Woody Goss on keyboards, and Joe Dart on bass. But with each song, the band grew in size, adding new members to the stage. First came Cory Wong, playing electric guitar for the song that shares his name. Then they added Joey Dosik for “Smile Meditation.” After a few more songs, they were joined by the legendary Antwaun Stanley, who led the band in an energy-driven “1612.” Soon the stage was filled with talented musicians that brought relentless and contagious energy, making the small theater feel like an enormous dance hall.
Once all of the band members were on stage, they brought up one more guest for “Funky Duck” — the “official choreographer” of the Funky Duck dance. She could move like no other, grooving to the bass and getting goofy with her dance moves. Suddenly, the band members on stage started a “duck hunt” and started searching for the funky duck in the theater. Soon everyone in the theater was looking around and lo and behold, Cory Wong appeared out of nowhere on the balcony behind the audience, jamming on his guitar! Even halfway through the show, Vulfpeck continued to be full of surprises.
The next highlight of the evening came when Stratton jokingly introduced “Peckapella” — the a capella Vulfpeck cover group. The band came onstage without any instruments, and Katzman taught the “Back Pocket” chorus to the audience in three sections, giving each section a different harmonic to sing. Soon, the room was filled with a three-part harmony of “Back Pocket,” delighting the band members as they sang a flawless a capella rendition before running to their instruments and jamming out to their #1 hit song, much to the audience excitement.
After that wonderful stint of audience participation, the band took a break and let Joe Dart take control of the stage on bass. He ripped out an epic seven-minute long bass solo, keeping the beat like a master and breaking it down. The band rejoined him without missing a beat as they transitioned into “It Gets Funkier.” Theo and Joe pushed the tempo up to breakneck speed, continually accelerating until it felt like they couldn’t go any faster, and then they kept going! Finally, Dart broke the pace and finished it off with a killer bass outro, resulting in a standing ovation from the fans. The climax of the show came with “Christmas in LA”, where once again, Katzman instructed the audience on three-part harmony for the chorus of “in L.A.!” It was as if the band was meant to play this song in the Downtown LA venue. They knew it, the audience knew it, and the energy in the room was unbelievable. Everyone was singing in harmony and it was evident that the band was having the time of their life, as were the fans. Truly an unforgettable rendition.
The band ended on “Outro”, before taking a group bow to thunderous applause, leaving the audience with a nice beat to hum as they left the theater on an incredibly happy note. We definitely got more than we had bargained for, but still wanted even more funky jams. Until next time, Vulfpeck! You can check out photos from last night’s show below, courtesy of Brandon Weil.