Sunflower Bean‘s sophomore album Twentytwo in Blue doesn’t drop for a couple more weeks (UPDATE: it’s out now!), but the NYC indie rock trio kicked things off a little early with a sold-out show at the Moroccan Lounge on Thursday night.
I’ve been listening to my advance copy of the record pretty regularly and am happy to report back that the new songs sound magnificent live. Album opener “Burn It” also served as the live show opener, kicking things into high gear right out of the gates. They then dialed up two songs from their debut record Human Ceremony, including the trippy as hell “2013” (not going to lie, it nearly gave me acid flashbacks to seeing them at Desert Daze last year).
The band gives me serious Pretenders vibes, and no moreso than on the ballad-esque “Twentytwo”, with a roaring chorus at the end where Julia Cumming proclaims “I do not go quietly into the night that calls me, even when I’m alone.”
Cumming did a crazy amount of headbanging during the show, with one of my friends saying he even felt dizzy just watching her rock out during the set. Cumming and guitarist Nick Kivlen’s outfits matched their retro vocals, with Kivlen in what looked to be green silk pajamas.
The band played new album cut “Memoria” for the first time, and it’s one of my favorite songs from the record with Cumming singing “The past is the past for a reason” so longingly. They closed their set with their single “I Was a Fool”, a banger of a song that features Kivlen using a vocal modifier that reminds me of Damon Albarn in the Gorillaz.
After 40 minutes they were done, though they came out for a two-song encore including a cover of Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” (you can watch here), which will be on a future edition of BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge. Then they closed things out with crowd favorite “I Was Home”. They stopped mid-solo and you could hear a guy in the crowd grooving to the solo so hard that he kept singing the guitar riff before the band picked the solo back up.
It was an awesome show but I was slightly miffed that they played maybe 50 minutes. When you have two albums out, I expect you to go at least an hour. Also, the crowd was a little bit stiff for my taste, especially since the crowd brought a ton of energy. There was one guy that kept shouting out Mike Pence jokes between songs — bro, nobody came to hear you do standup comedy.
I think Sunflower Bean has a massive year ahead of them and I expect them to generate some of the biggest buzz at this year’s SXSW. If you’re headed to Austin, check out our SXSW party list and find out where you can catch them. Otherwise, they’re also playing Hangout Fest and just added a show at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana on June 14. Tickets available now.
Photos by Danielle Gornbein