3rd April | Thekla
Photos: Charlotte Christine
Sunflower Bean have blossomed into an assured and confident band. Not at all in an arrogant or egotistical sense, but in their ability to capture a crowd, enrapture and invigorate them. Their desire to express themselves in a concise and direct manner is well channelled in their second album, Twentytwo In Blue.
It’s a spritely, yet very much considered record that paves the way for the New York trio to take a truly substantial grip on the current music scene. This couldn’t be more evident tonight, as their sold-out show at Thekla ascends with passion and enthusiasm, from both band and crowd.
Added to tonight’s bill shortly before doors, Bournemouth trio, Leeches can certainly say they deserve these sorts of opportunities, if not more. With the vibrant quality of the sound that Thekla offers, the group deliver one of their most well-rounded shows. The melodic intricacies that tread under the distortion remain, as they thrash through the still relatively new ‘Flowers In The Garden.’ It’s evidence enough that they have the significant capability to write fleshed-out singles that strike hard. It’s further bolstered as they deliver stand-outs ‘Regular’ and ‘Inside Voices’, really pushing into a heavier territory and thriving for it.
Having joined Sunflower Bean for the full round of the UK tour, Sorry head out at a significant point for the group. They released their second “visual mixtape” in late March as the tour began. The progression they’ve made since touring with Pixx in October is evident. The four-piece sound immensely more vibrant and impactful than they did at Crofters back then.
They really suit a bigger stage. The way the heaviness of the lingering, gritty structures resonates is a real turning point. The group practically beat their instruments with tenacity. What’s most pleasing is that they’ve cut down on the disorientating and lacklustre synth phrases, focusing on the more foundational nature of their sound and become better in the process.
As soon as Sunflower Bean gleefully bounce onto the stage, its evident that those in attendance are in for an energetic and exuberant show. ‘Come On’ sounds even more agitated in a live setting, the group’s sound thrusting through feedback. Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen shred in unison, something they do regularly through the set, to the joy of the increasingly-animated crowd.
The interactivity within the group is endearing. The way they engross themselves and seem at their most alive when on stage only adds to the compelling nature of the show. ‘Crisis Fest’ has become an immediate favourite for the group, a call-and-response rock n roll hit that thrives off Kivlen’s bright power-pop melody and Cumming’s powerful and rasping vocal.
It’s perhaps understated on record just how strong a voice Julia has. Throughout the set, she bellows with tenacity, sounding even more powerful, seeing as she can let loose live without restraint. As the group share a stripped back cover of ‘Harvest Moon,’ Julia murmurs a tender coo, harnessing the restrained melancholy of the track and silencing the room.
As they joyously kick through ‘I Was A Fool’ and then disappear into darkness, Sunflower Bean display simply how entertaining they’ve become. An exciting year awaits this humble trio.