Concert Review: Sunflower Bean @ Rock and Roll Hotel (6/2/18)

Sunflower Bean
Sunflower Bean (Photo from FB @SunflowerBean Credit: Andy DeLuca)

Is your new favorite New York band Sunflower Bean?

Okay, that’s too much of a tall order but, for effect, they were named New York City’s ‘hardest-working band’ in 2014. At least get this indie rock band on your (music listening option of choice) immediately!

Sunflower Bean played a fantastic show at the Rock and Roll Hotel on June 2nd, and here we are to give you a taste of what transpired. Although words are not the best solution, hopefully they will prompt you to action.

The Rock and Roll Hotel hosted a mid-sized crowd that was definitely ready to party. In one group of women, celebrating a birthday, they decided it was a good time to innovate mosh pits and crowd surfing antics. I do believe RnR Hotel has a sign posted for ‘No Crowd Surfing’ but the birthday girl proved successful on multiple occasions.

Formed in 2013, Sunflower Bean is Julia Cumming (vocals and bass), Nick Kivlen (guitar and vocals) and Jacob Faber (drums), and they are touring for their second album, Twentytwo in Blue. They were all 22 years old for the album’s release.

They dressed the part as well, all in blue on stage before a giant, glittering banner proclaiming their name in bold.

They kicked off the 13-song set with “Burn It” and we immediately knew the evening would be a treat. Julia’s growl plus Nick’s rhythms and Jacob’s beats, led us on a journey of a breakup gone so bad the town has to burn.

Next they played “Come On”, with a pulsing intro that first brought out the aforementioned mosh pit.

They played eight of the songs from Twentytwo in Blue, including “Twentytwo” serving as a nostalgic pop anthem. “I Was a Fool” played near the end, is another breakup song, yet infectious, and happy sounding. Some have compared parts of it to Fleetwood Mac, and that’s quite okay. For the chorus, Nick sang his vocals into a black telephone handset re-purposed into some sort of voice modifier to give the lyrics a haunting quality, ‘I was a fool who lost his herd, I’m just a child who can’t keep his word’.

Some of the heavier, almost punk-like songs from their first album, Human Ceremony, were among the highlights from the evening.

With “Easier Said” Julia told the dancing crowd to quit their day jobs after a heady sing-along, since it was ‘so beautiful’. They last performed at the Rock and Roll Hotel days after the 2016 Presidential election, and Julia noted how the vibe was quite different. Since then they’ve also grown into a new sound (read: more pop, more ballads) compared to their first album. Both sounds are worthy, and I look forward to hear what they do next.

At the end of the night (so soon?), “Only a Moment” was confirmation we were all ‘exactly where you’re supposed to be’ as Julia led the audience on another sing-along before the closing epic rendition of “I Was Home”. As a fitting coda, Julia stepped off the stage and jammed with her bass guitar within a smiling circle of fans.

Your action items of the day: Find a copy of Twentytwo in Blue and watch for their next show in DC!

Setlist
Burn It
Come On
Twentytwo
2013
Crisis Fest
Human For
Puppet Strings
Easier Said
Harvest Moon (Neil Young cover)
Sinking Sands
I Was a Fool
Only a Moment
I Was Home

Sunflower Bean
Sunflower Bean @ Rock and Roll Hotel (June 2, 2018)

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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