Tag Archives: Vulfpeck

Vulfpeck: The Gamewinners

Vulfpeck live

It’s a sweltering September evening in New York and, onstage at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, Vulfpeck have a wound-up, sold-out crowd in the palms of their hands. After cajoling the front row into singing a pitch-perfect A, drummer/guitarist/vocalist Theo Katzman proceeds to lead the audience in what he calls the oldest form of human bonding—three-part harmony. He teaches, then conducts, the audience through the entire chorus of the group’s joyously catchy tune, “Back Pocket.” Alto, tenor, bass, all together now: “Put it in my pocket, in my pocket, in my back pocket, whoa-oh-oh!” What could easily devolve into an out-of-tune, off-beat mess at any other show instead becomes a choir, whose voices soar high above the tight rhythms of the Ann Arbor four-piece.

Vulfpeck was formed in 2011 by a group of music school friends at the University of Michigan: Katzman, keyboardist Woody Goss, bassist Joe Dart, and the band’s maestro, drummer/keyboardist/guitarist Jack Stratton. Stratton’s guiding concept for the band was an old-style studio rhythm section, after the fashion of The Swampers or The Wrecking Crew, skilled groups that provided the backing instrumentation for the biggest hits of the ’50s and ’60s. True to that idiom, the first four Vulfpeck EPs were largely instrumental—lean, clean funk that instantly found favor among truly devoted fans. Propelled by a stream of mildly-viral lo-fi music videos and the passionate word-of-mouth of those same fans, Vulfpeck secured staying power in an often fickle music industry.

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