To make themselves feel at home at Madison Square Garden last Saturday (Sept. 28), Michigan funk band Vulfpeck asked its set designer, Tricia Robertson, to drive a roomful of furniture from Ann Arbor and reassemble it on stage. "We recorded a lot in our friend's living room and those were some of our big YouTube videos," says Jack Stratton, bandleader and multi-instrumentalist. "It really created a cool, studio-like atmosphere. One of the guys was on his phone. Just real low-key.”
The band's first-ever arena show, after playing multiple nights at New York clubs such as Terminal 5 and Kings Theatre in recent years, was relaxed for more reasons than the furniture. Vulfpeck was one of the first-ever headliners to sell out MSG without a manager or top record label behind them. That's by design -- although Stratton doesn't consider Vulfpeck to be Fugazi-like DIY activists who are "on some crusade," he runs the band as a "real tight operation." The musicians stayed in Airbnbs ("I mean, nice Airbnbs," he says) for the gig and brought in no bus or gear.
"I've always been curious how far you can take it, just trying to use the Internet efficiently," says Stratton, 31, speaking by phone from his Cleveland home. "At the end of the day, I want to get the musicians paid as much as possible. If that's your North Star, a lot of stuff is out of the question -- certainly a label, and most likely a manager. That's been the guiding thing."