Earlier this year New York trio Sunflower Bean released their sophomore album, Twentytwo in Blue. The album, whose title references the fact that all members of the band were 22 years old when it was released, builds on the straight-ahead indie rock of their critically acclaimed debut, Human Ceremony, and showcases a new level of musical maturity. Co-produced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait and Friends’ Matthew Molnar, Twentytwo in Blue expands the Sunflower Bean sonic landscape with lusher textures wrapped around Fleetwood Mac influenced pop-rock, and a bit of glam sprinkled on top. In the wake of the album’s release, Sunflower Bean have embarked on a headlining tour across Europe and North America. We caught the show on a Sunday night at a packed Cat’s Cradle Back Room.
The evening was started by The Nude Party. Rather than an impromptu bout of clothes-less revelry as the name suggests, the Nude Party is a wildly fun six-piece garage rock band hailing from the rural mountain town of Boone North Carolina. They certainly started the evening off on the right foot at the Cradle with a set that mixed psychedelic garage rock with surf guitar and a dash of country twang. The crowd was up dancing and cheering from the first song. The Nude Party are preparing to release their debut LP on July 6th via New West Records, and based on their performance, it will certainly be worth checking out.
With the stage bathed in a fitting blue backlight, Sunflower Bean took their places and kicked into “Burn It,” the opening song from Twentytwo in Blue. From the opening notes, the energy in the room simply crackled. With hardly a pause, they launched into “Come On” from Human Ceremony. The one-two opening punch of thundering drums and alternately fuzzy and chiming guitar covered with powerful honey-soaked vocals set the mood for the evening. The crowd was still buzzing from the opening salvo, when the band dialed it back slightly for the slow building “Twentytwo.” Singer/bassist Julia Cumming and guitarist/singer Nick Kivlen stood at the front of the stage to either side of drummer Jacob Faber, often coming together at center stage, seemingly drawing energy from each other that radiated throughout the room. If any members of the audience were not fully enraptured by this point, a rousing foot-stomping romp through “Crisis Fest,” surely pushed any stragglers over the edge, as the crowd joined the band with fist pumps and resounding chants of “No, no, no.” The band’s setlist centered primarily around Twentytwo in Blue, with a few earlier crowd favorites mixed in for good measure. However, the haunting and moody interlude created when Nick turned to an acoustic guitar for a truly captivating cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” certainly had to be one of the highlights of the might in both song selection and delivery. Sunflower Bean were back at their high energy best as they closed out the evening with the raucous trio of “I Was A Fool,” and “Only A Moment,” followed by the set ending “I Was Home,” that brought down the house.
Whether purring or growling, Sunflower Bean deliver. They continue to mature while balancing a youthful energy and innocence that resonates from the stage. This is a band clearly coming into their own, and its definitely worth the effort to venture out and catch them live if you get the opportunity.
Sunflower Bean + The Nude Party @ Cats Cradle Back Room – June 3rd 2018