Vulpeck returned to the Brooklyn Bowl for a Friday night funk fest, which showcased their incredible talent while welcoming numerous special guests. The sold-out room was greeted with a mellow, opening performance by Joey Dosik. Dosik performed the first Beatles cover of the night, “Don’t Let Me Down,” before giving us a taste of some of his originals off of the Game Winner EP.
As the members of Vulpeck appeared on the stage, fans new and old dropped everything they were doing to rush as close to the front as possible. One thing that this foursome is well known for is heavy crowd interaction. The closer you are to the stage, the more involved you will be at these shows. Right off the bat, asses were shaking and high fives were being exchanged as the band treated us to “Outro” from their 2012 release, Vollmilch, with help from their friend Eddie Barbash on sax. The Vollmilch album was highlighted two more times in the beginning of the show with the danceable “Barbara” and “Mean Girls” before welcoming groove drummer, Bernard Purdie to the stage for “It Gets Funkier.”
Almost half way through their relatively short set, the guests continued to pour on stage as Dosik joined Vulpeck for “Game Winner” and the second Beatles cover of the night “Something.” The floor of the venue was certainly packed with groove enthusiasts, but at this point there wasn’t much space on stage either. As if having the funk innovator, Bernard Purdie, wasn’t enough of a treat for these guys, they enlisted help from Melissa Gardiner and Rachel Price (Lake Street Dive) to tackle Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady.” Joe Dart’s bass playing was a key feature in this solid cover as the tasty brass sounds echoed down the bowling lanes.
The crowd was fully locked in and feeling the horn section when the Vulf brought well known, Antwaun Stanley up to sing the extremely soulful, “1612.” Stanley’s vocal ability and stage swagger add the one-two punch these suburban boys from next store need to construct a more powerful song. During “1612”, New York, NY wanted to be a part of it, as the audience became one with the Vulf. Lyrically, these guys tip their hats to one of this city’s most iconic figures “Frank Sinatra” and with the crowd belting out the tune with Stanley, it was clear that these guys are forever welcomed in the city that doesn’t sleep.
There was no slowing down at this point as the group nailed another classic, “Boogie on Reggae Woman,” written by Stevie Wonder and covered by numerous other bands that know a thing or two about good music. Stanley remained on the stage through the lyrically ridiculous “Funky Duck,” which can be found on their most recent album, Thrill of the Arts. Louis Cato was then brought on to help with “Wait For The Moment” and “Beastly” as Stanley walked off stage to the cheers of a very grateful room.
“Christmas in LA” gave the band and the crowd a breather packed with banter from Jack Stratton and Theo Katzman. Probably the most well known song to new followers of the Vulf, “Back Pocket” ended the set. Gardiner and Barbush brought the brass back into the mix, while Stanley enlisted help from the audience for the hook. One more cover, “Kid Charlemagne” by Steely Dan was executed in the funkiest of ways for the encore. Who knows what Vulfpeck will bring to the table for Saturday’s final night at the Bowl. They have had many repeats in their first three shows of this NY run and with their limited, yet powerful catalog, fans do not seem to mind. The group continues to surprise us by welcoming numerous guests onto the stage physically and welcoming funk icons into the room sonically through their amazing covers. After seeing so many smiling younger faces fill the streets of Williamsburg after the show, I was reminded that Vulfpeck isn’t just the funk band that this generation wanted, but it’s also the one this generation needed.