Coming off of a performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, a multi-night sellout of Brooklyn Bowl, and with a tidal wave of summer festivals on their horizon, Vulfpeck is only gaining momentum. Last week, the Ann Arbor-born, Los Angeles-based funk outfit anointed Chicago’s newest venue, Savage Smyth, with their signature sticky-sweet sound and Spotify scheming.
The performance itself was pure, unadulterated FUNK. Chucking guitar licks, gut-busting rhythm sections, rollicking organ and clavinet, all saturated in delicious wah-wah—Vulfpeck’s gooey, viscous grooves command dancing.
A special merch line featured handmade pins of the bandmates and Funky Duck keychains, whose proceeds went entirely to benefit the American Heart Association.
The show was also something of a family affair. Vulfpeck bandleader Jack Stratton’s mom made an appearance to teach the audience the new Funky Duck dance, which fans helped devise through an online contest.
The event itself was made possible in part by Jack’s sister, Lucy Stratton, Director of Business Development at Chicago’s AgencyEA, which owns Savage Smyth.
Savage Smyth is a 8,000-square-foot creative space that can be fully customized to suit any event. An additional 8,000-square-foot outdoor deck provides a stunning view of the Chicago skyline. The industrial aesthetic is contemporary and functional. Savage Smyth is bound to become an essential stop for innovative artists like Vulfpeck.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Vulfpeck show without fans profiting off of the band’s shenanigans. In 2014, the funkateers released Sleepify, an album of complete silence for Spotify listeners to loop in their sleep, with the royalties funding an admission-free tour. Eventually, the music streaming giant caught on to this violation of their Terms of Service, but not before accumulating $20k in royalties. This time around, the band found an even better way to snag royalties and comply with Spotify’s guidelines. The single “Flow State” hit Spotify in April and is 30 seconds of Earth’s resonant frequency—a low, practically inaudible tone—to be looped millions of times. Unbeknownst to attendees of the Savage Smyth set, this round of royalties was to pay fans for coming to the show; Jack personally presented each concertgoer with a crisp dollar bill in lieu of admission. There’s no better way to make a buck.
Between the free money, the help from the Stratton clan, charity merch, and the free Michigan beer, it’s encouraging to see a community oriented approach to ever-growing popularity, and an inventive one at that. We have no clue where Vulfpeck is taking us next, but we’re glad they’re bringing us along for the ride.