Vulfpeck is a band that refuses to play by the rules. They will maintain their strength through perfection and consistency, they will not cheapen their own product, and they do not need to overplay. They will continue to release new music every year, and they will continue to do what they want. This is Vulfpeck, a Michigan-based rhythm quartet who deserves more than just your 60-minute festival-attention.

Internet-famous since 2011, the funk-influenced musicians have only just begun receiving widespread recognition and national attention – as they’ve performed at Fool’s Paradise, Bonnaroo, Tipitina’s, Red Rocks, Lockn’, Outside Lands Music Festival, North Coast Music Festival, and Central Park SummerStage in just the last six months. While many fans caught on to Vulfpeck’s music after their 2015 Thrill of the Arts release, true fans have been tuned in since the beginning – and they are not the ones complaining about setlist structures.

By nature of Vulf, the band does what they want. It takes a unanimous vote for them to even consider playing a gig. With bandleader Jack Stratton playing virtually every role of the management team, the band is using themselves as somewhat of a business-social experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t in the music industry – and we are just the guinea pigs. From Sleepify to Flow State, two projects that have gone way beyond the box to poke fun at industry practices, this band has continuously pushed the boundaries of standardized thinking – and they’ve grown exponentially as a result of such risk-taking behaviors.

Yet, Vulfpeck has received mixed reviews to their season-spanning setlist, especially getting some serious heat after playing two similar setlists back-to-back at Lockn’. To a lesser extent, the same is being said of their recent NYC gigs. What gives? This isn’t Phish; they haven’t been a band for 30 years; they are, by no means, a “jam band.”

This is a band that is introducing their music to large-scale audiences for the very first time. They are going to play the songs that are statistically well-received by their loyal fanbase, and they are going to play them flawlessly. If consistency is the key to perfection, then why must those naysayers shake their fists at the band’s strive to expertise? They are catchy, quirky, and completely uninhibited by the dark walls of this industry. Let. Vulf. Be.

The thing is, their music certainly appeals to a higher-level music appreciator, much like those found at jam shows. Vulfpeck’s compositions are intricate, their technique is refined, and their musicianship is about as tight as it comes. It’s no wonder that jam band fans are joining the so-called “Vulf-pack”; they’re just downright good at what they do. The problem comes when you start drawing comparisons, something done easily at a jam-centric festival like Lockn’.

With all that being said, there are a few truths to come out of this jam scene test-run.

1. The band shines the brightest as a small venue act. Regularly selling out all of their shows, from multi-night runs at Brooklyn Bowl in NYC to London, it is a guarantee that the room will be filled by fans and critics alike. They deserve this professional setting to prove themselves. No one standing in a field and coming off a 24-hour acid trip needs to experience Vulfpeck. Their music is here for the enthusiastically interested only.

2. It is when there are multiple players beyond the core four that Vulfpeck’s geniusness is truly most palpable. The nature of their tightly-knit, one-of-a-kind compositions are fully revealed when there are additional musicians contributing to them. Especially when playing alongside professionals like Bernard Purdie, Cory Henry, Eric Krasno, Adam Deitch, Rachael Price, and other fantastic players, the band is challenged to up their game. And it’s in these instances that their technical musicianship is truly displayed.

3. Vulfpeck only performs things to perfection, because that’s what your money is going towards. You don’t see pop icons performing a half-anything. Vulfpeck is no different.

While the “jam band” world thrives on diverse setlists and extended jams, that’s just not what Vulfpeck is about. They are about musical respect and appreciation. They play the songs that we all know and love so that every attendee gets what they came for. They introduce covers only with reason. They aren’t playing songs from the new record because they aren’t ready to spoil them. While largely instrumental, their compositions exceed normalcy with ease.

When The Beautiful Game comes out, it will be like Christmas morning. That’s how records are supposed to be, a surprise. With only a few details known about the ten-track album, we can all be sure to know that it will be satisfying. It’s Vulfpeck. Expect nothing less.

Finally, I’d like to point something out about this week’s performances in New York. This tweet from May 31 ties together a string of occasions:

Stratton has been mixing vintage videos of groove master Purdie with other live performances for years, starting with this mix of Ethel Caffie-Austin, then Herbie Hancock, Ziel, and Cory Henry. Needless to say, the Vulfmon’s obsession with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie has been evident since the beginning.

So, to see Vulfpeck share the same stage with Purdie for four days straight was a treat. But not only that, they debuted all three of the previously mentioned songs; one for each night.

The fact that they played “Kid Charlemagne,” “Ooh Child”, and “MMMBop” for the first time, alongside Pretty Purdie, was extremely unique to what most band’s are capable of doing these days. Live music is about producing your best efforts while simultaneously making dreams come true. This is exactly what Vulfpeck is doing, and they aren’t going to slow down any time soon.

Carry on.