Had the wind changed at the Brixton Academy, five thousand people would have been stuck with a highly contorted expression - AKA the bass face - that embodied the excruciatingly funky sound of Vulfpeck. Having studied music together at the University of Michigan, their model is clean-cut and simple: primary-colour catchy bops. Embedded within that is a plethora of almost irritatingly clever riffs, basslines and references to make any self-respecting music nerd weep with joy.
The most striking thing about Vulfpeck’s show is their reckless and precocious musical talent. The core members swap instruments with seamless skill. Joey Dosik’s sax solos are a delight; Antwaun Stanley’s vocal is outstanding; Joe Dart’s impossibly fast, virtuosic bass solos receive rapturous cheers. Songs that sound initially like jolly ditties - “1 for 1, Dimaggio”, “Animal Spirits” - are rendered formidable by an impeccably tight groove.
Although the music itself is accessible, there was a cliquiness about the Brixton audience. To get his note for an a capella rendition of “Back Pocket”, Theo Katzman asks the crowd to sing a concert G. When asked to sing the chorus of the same song, the room harmonises perfectly. It’s fun, but with a slightly exclusive, knowing air.
In essence, the overwhelming thing about Vulfpeck is that they maintain a sense of theatrical humour that they can pull off because their musicianship is infallible. Jack Stratton runs around the stage in a PE kit - with added Britney mic - throughout the show, playing nearly every instrument in the rhythm section. It’s all playful and ironic, founded on absolute confidence. “Birds of a Feather” is appropriate as an encore, reflecting not only the community spirit in the crowd, but the intimidating strength of their ensemble.