REVIEW: Vulfpeck at Vicar Street, Dublin + Mescalito After Party

I first heard of Vulfpeck in 2014 when they released ‘Sleepify’, a ten track album of complete silence, on Spotify. They encouraged their fans to play it on a loop while they slept. The band would then use the resulting royalties to crowdfund a tour of free entry shows across the US. Spotify eventually pulled the album off of the service, but not before the band earned an estimated $20,000. Smart, right? The story also boosted their profile around the world practically overnight. The best part was, Vulfpeck had the musical skill to live up to the hype!

Wednesday night was their very first ever show in Europe. European crowds have long been described as much rowdier and energetic than their North American counterparts, and Irish crowds are often cited as being some of the best in Europe, but looking at the bands reaction to the raucous reception they received from the sold out Vicar St crowd (having been upgraded from the sold out Sugar Club) it’s easy to believe them when they tell us ”This is the best show we’ve ever played, no other show even comes close.” It’s not a case of ”Hello Springton!”, this genuinely was one of the most fun gigs I’ve been to in years.

Vulfpeck very much put on more of a show than just a set of songs. Songs feature extended interludes complete with individual solos and stabs. Every member of the band apart from bassist Joe Dart spent the whole gig instrument swapping in between and in the middle of songs. Drummer Theo Katzman comes out from behind the kit to sing lead vocals on a few tracks and lays down some unbelievable falsetto notes straight out of Jackson 5 era MJ territory. The band are know for their great sense of humour online but in person they’re really very funny. They seem to be having the time of their lives, genuinely surprised at the audiences familiarity with their back catalogue and idolising support.

Funky Duck vocalist Antwaun Stanley made a surprise appearance halfway in and the crowd threatened to drown out band with their screams and applause. It seems like they’ve brought their whole crew over for the tour. This guys could give Marvin Gaye a run for his money with his soulful vocal gymnastics, making incredible jumps up and down the scale seem so easy.

It’s hard to emphasise how amazing the crowd participation was without sounding like I’m exaggerating, but this gig was really something special. Vulfpeck can barely believe their eyes, all of them spent most of the night with smiles from ear to ear. At one point the crowd is clapping in unison for more, and Joe Dart matches the crowds ever increasing tempo with a bass solo. One by one all of the other members join in and add to the piece. One definitive highlight is the three part crowd harmony for ‘Back pocket’. Bandleader Jack Stratton stops mid explanation because the whole crowd already knows their part note for note.

I left the venue, hands sore from clapping. The atmosphere outside was one of pure elation and joy. The gig was solid gold! As if we could take any more, there was still more music to come. Mescalito held an after party in the jam packed Sin E. It was fitting end to the night, everyone giving in to their excess groove. The 3 piece play jam style psychedelic opuses, a perfect mix of Hendrix, Primus and Marley. Definitely check them out if you have the chance.

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