Vulfpeck made their now-annual return to New York City last night for the first of three sold-out nights at the Brooklyn Steel. As if the new venue was built for this band, the setting allowed for an increase in audience size, an upturn of the volume, and even more instrumentalists on the stage at a time. Following their new album announcement earlier this week, the anticipation for Vulfpeck to return to the stage (after only a few shows in CA this June) was at an all-time high, landing exactly a year after their four-night Central Park SummerStage/Brooklyn Bowl residency. The quartet that is Jack Stratton, Joe Dart, Woody Goss, and Theo Katzman continues to impress, as they began chapter one of yet another internationally sold-out tour.
Vulfpeck often invites a similar, reliable cast of musical masters to the stage during their Brooklyn residencies, and the Friday night run-opener was no different. Singer/songwriter/keyboardist/saxophonist/all-around-great-guy Joey Dosik opened the show to a nearly-full room, delivering beauties from his 2016 Game Winner EP, then stuck around to perform a number of tunes with Vulfpeck during their headlining slot. Like a family style dinner, guitarist Cory Wong played the majority of the set as the un-official/official fifth member. While Dosik has recorded on four Vulfpeck records, appearing as the first-ever guest contributor on 2012’s Vollmilch, Wong made his debut collaboration back in 2013 in their YouTube video “TOUR VLOG 002.” The jam has since evolved into “Cory Wong,” the final track on 2016’s The Beautiful Game, on which the strat-o-master plays 70% of the tracks as “the album’s Billy Preston.” Though perhaps no musical contribution is more attached to the Vulfpeck catalogue than the voice of Sir Antwaun Stanley. Affectionally dubbed Twaun, the gospel-raised soul-stirrer made his Vulf debut on 2013’s “Wait For The Moment,” then kept the hit momentum with later years’ “1612,” “Funky Duck,” and subsequently, “1 for 1, DiMaggio” and “Aunt Leslie.” Though he’s been involved with the Vulf players since the college Groove Spoon days, Antwaun continuously stands as one of the most adored collaborators. With Joey Dosik, Cory Wong, and Antwaun Stanley all on the stage, Vulfpeck was officially in beast mode—playing all of the favorites, with special guests throughout.
Local Richie Rodriguez (who we can all thank for the musicalities of drummer/guitarist/vocalist Theo Katzman) remained faithful to the band during the entire set, weaving his percussive accents in and out of the funk/pop-tinged compositions. Jazz trombonist Melissa Gardiner came in like a rocket of sound, becoming a staple in “Funky Duck” and beyond. The Late Show With Stephen Colbert band member Ibanda Ruhumbika mesmerized the crowd with his tuba skills, especially with a rock solid rendition of “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” Clarinetist Mark Dover performed the live version of his studio-slotted “Back Pocket,” ahead of a sing-a-long marathon of epic proportions, basically making everyone’s dreams come true.
The stage was set for a magical evening, as the rotating cast played through all the essentials. Few bands have a following as faithful as Vulfpeck’s, and few bands remain as consistently pleasure-filled. The banter, the tank tops, the cart wheels will never grow old in this club, as many fans plan to embark on a journey of all three nights with Vulfpeck.
Friday night’s audience was appreciatively treated to a career-spanning setlist, including “Fugue State,” “Beastly,” and all the hit-favorites, “Game Winner,” “1612,” “Back Pocket,” and “Christmas In LA.” Fans were also awarded 2016’s “Cory Wong,” “El Chepe,” “Daddy, He Got A Tesla,” and “Dean Town.” The show culminated with a heartwarming “Outro” and a 30+ second hand stand from bandleader Jack Stratton.
Thanks to Evan Pragliola, you can watch videos of Vulfpeck’s Friday night performance at Brooklyn Steel below:
Setlist: Vulfpeck | Brooklyn Steel | Brooklyn, NYC | 9/8/17
Intros, Fugue State, Cory Wong, El Chepe, Game Winner, Tesla, 1612, Aunt Leslie, Boogie On / Lord Will Make A Way, Funky Duck, Wait For The Moment, Back Pocket, Beastly, Christmas In LA, Dean Town, Outro