Sunflower Bean kicks off their shining world tour at Everybody Hits
by Christian Ortmann
Last night’s gig at Everybody Hits had me return to a batting cage for the first time since the trauma of JCC camp in sixth grade. I went to see Sunflower Bean, one of my favorite musical discoveries of the past year. Sunflower Bean are a psychedelic three-piece rock outfit from New York who are kicking off a world tour in promotion of their upcoming sophomore album, Twentytwo in Blue, due out March 23rd.
Immediate pros of the show: modestly priced ticket, intimate show space, and I was not sardine-packed next to some rancid creeps. Sunflower Bean curated a set list that reached every corner of their modest discography: the singles, unreleased tracks from the upcoming album, much of their debut, and an encore of crowd favorites from their early EPs. I left wholly satisfied with what I heard. Nick Kivlen and Julia Cumming, the two members who spend the set on their feet (singing and playing guitar and bass, respectively) managed the “stage” area well. Whether it was jumping for joy, backing up into the literal batting cages, or venturing out into the crowd, the energy and stage presence could be felt down Girard Avenue and back again.
The vocal performance was immense. Cumming’s raw power allowed her to absolutely let loose while remaining in total control the whole time. The kind of ear piercing cries I did not mind standing right next to the speaker for. Kivlen’s voice worked well as a balance too. His own parts were projected in a more casual and predictable fashion. Not a complaint though, the entire performance was very tight. Jacob Faber’s drumming is also due for proper acknowledgment. His set is minimal, but it is not about the size, it is how you use it, right? He was a reliable heavy-hitter all night. I wonder how he would look in a helmet and pinstripes.
Sunflower Bean are known as one of the hardest working bands in the business for a reason. For a relatively young band, their experience and synergy are more than apparent. And for a three-piece, their sound is remarkable massive, a fully realized beast in a live setting. I knew this was a gig I should not have passed upon, and suffice to say, I look forward to Sunflower Bean’s return to the neighborhood.
(The opener was exceptional by the way. Suburban Living are a Philadelphia based dream pop act. I was immediately gripped by their sound, a sound reminiscent of 1980’s new wave. It was dark but danceable, bass and sultry synths guiding memorable melodies.)
Check out the show's gallery below, photos by Chris DeFlitch