Lots of hype surrounds Vulfpeck, always. Over the last couple years, they’ve headlined Red Rocks Amphitheatre multiple times, performed at major festivals like Bonnaroo and LOCKN’, and sold-out virtually every international show they’ve played. They’re also preparing for their Madison Square Garden headlining debut and are eight releases deep in their studio repertoire (nine, if you count Sleepify). It would be crazy to think that they played their first live performance together in 2013. Right?
Well that’s the case. The band released its first EP, Mit Peck, in December 2011, and a second EP, Vollmilch, in December 2012. In 2013, Theo Katzman, Joe Dart, and Jack Stratton backed up Darren Criss on his national tour, with Theo leading as the tour’s musical director. To bring the core four together to perform live was a decision not taken lightly, and they’ve done so significantly less than any other successful band today.
According to semi-official Vulf-historian Allegra Rosenberg in an article in Bandcamp, “Stratton refused to book a single live gig for Vulfpeck until he could count on it being sold out, which meant that for the first three years of their existence they didn’t play live at all.” Stratton added, “It’s a kind of myth that you have to be losing money for the first couple years of a band.” Clearly, the band’s frontman and manager is on to something. Their live shows have been nothing short of spectacular, but it’s all been by exquisite design.
In 2017, Theo Katzman also expressed the profound impact the previous year had on Vulfpeck as a band, considering they’d only played a handful of times before their game-changing performances at Fool’s Paradise in April 2016. Taking a look back at their first-ever live performance—and seeing just how tight they were then even then—justifies all the reasons people love Vulfpeck.
Theo’s previous booking agent, Matthew Altruda, explained, “We booked the Blind Pig as ‘Carl’s 50th Birthday Bash’ as a secret to eluded Darren Criss fans and make an Ann Arbor family and friends show that evening. Darren opened for Theo, and during Theo’s performance, the crowd chanted for a Vulfpeck song and they played ‘Beastly’.”
“Beastly” was Vulfpeck’s first release ever, and the song that was particularly popular on YouTube and noted for its bass performance in No Treble, an online magazine for bass players. Joe Dart’s bassline skyrocketed the success of Vulfpeck, at least in the Internet universe, and is ultimately responsible for the collective realization that these four had a “thing” worth spending more time on.
So, without further ado, watch Jack Stratton, Theo Katzman, Joe Dart, and Woody Goss (on the cowbell!) perform “Beastly” live for the first time ever in June of 2013. Unlike most other versions, this rendition included impromptu lyrics that the crowd chimed in for, “Who’s there? Not me!” they chanted. Plug it in:
Vulfpeck – “Beastly” – 6/13/13
If you haven’t already, watch our birdwatching adventure with Woody right here.
[Originally published 6/13/18]