If you haven’t heard of the funk band Vulfpeck, you might not be listening hard enough. Since 2011, Vulfpeck has released several critically acclaimed albums and has toured extensively both in the US and abroad. Their newest album “The Beautiful Game,” debuted at number 10 on the Billboard R&B charts. The group now returns to Ann Arbor to play two shows at the Michigan Theater.
On the latest album, Vulfpeck continues to bring the unique blend of funk, soul, pop, and jazz that has gained them notoriety and a massive fan base. Beginning with a long, rangy clarinet solo that dumps into the jumpy pop-forward second track, the album proceeds from there with fearless reach—from the stripped down funk and groove that is Vulfpeck’s bread and butter, to smoother R&B tracks and irresistible disco-pop songs. Like most Vulfpeck albums, “The Beautiful Game” also makes use of a plethora of talented guests. The album features vocal performances from their stand-by, stand-out vocalist Antwaun Stanley as well as a number of other players.
This scope of influence is one of the major draws of Vulfpeck albums. Critics have compared them to everyone from The Meters to ABBA to Steely Dan. The minds behind the music are Jack Stratton, Theo Katzman, Woody Goss, and Joe Dart. The band formed while attending the University of Michigan Music School. Katzman and Stratton have multiple instrumental credits on their albums (and often trade around positions on stage). Woody Goss plays keyboards while Joe Dart holds down the bass in epic fashion.
Vulfpeck, known for their dramatic, high energy live performances, sold out the first night of the Ann Arbor shows months ago, a testament to their loyal hometown following and to their appeal as a live act. Their shows are marked with humor and theatrics, but one of the greatest joys of this band is the the interplay between their casual performance persona and their tightly arranged compositions. This interplay is present in the band’s hilarious online content as well. Check out the drone video with Vulfpeck, Solange, and Michael McDonald or Jack Stratton’s “Holy Trinities” videos for a taste. This content is much like the band’s carefully crafted music—full of humor and joy, with a great reverence for the legendary musicians of the past.
May 12 and 13
Michigan Theatre, 603 E. Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, 48104