A Sold-Out Sunflower Bean Party at The Bowery BallroomFebruary 26th, 2016
Sunflower Bean – The Bowery Ballroom – February 25, 2016
It doesn’t take much to turn something ordinary into something festive. For The Bowery Ballroom last night, all it took was some streamers hanging from the balcony and Mylar balloons (birthday-party chic?) to turn the rock club into party central. For Sunflower Bean there were plenty of reasons to celebrate: new album, hometown show, achieving “keep hearing their song on SiriusXM” status and that important on-your-way-up milestone of selling out the Bowery. After a good and rocking are-you-warmed-up-yet opening set from Honduras filled with Flying V guitar solos and plenty of fist-pump adrenaline, the packed house was ready for the party’s hosts and guests of honor, eventually chanting, “Bean! Bean! Bean!” as they took the stage.
Looking at the three members of Sunflower Bean, it seemed like each major high school clique got to send one representative to the trio. And their music felt the same way, deftly combining nerdy prog, stoner metal and cool-kid indie rock into a high-energy rock show of the sort that rightly fills a room with slam-dance-y kids and nodding, appreciative insider elders alike. They opened with “Human Ceremony,” the title track off that new LP, Julia Cumming’s gurgling bass riffs matching Nick Kivlen’s tie-dyed guitar riffs in the middle. By the third song, the appropriately named “Tame Impala,” off last year’s EP, Show Me Your Seven Secrets, the trio had already channeled some combination of Black Sabbath, Rush and Blondie, and the front half of the room had devolved into a happy mosh pit, unable to contain the energy with mere head bobbing any longer. After Cumming chugged a possibly unnecessary Red Bull, they launched into “2013,” drummer Jacob Faber driving the trio like a high-end sports car in a commercial, beginning as a groove-rock thing before a swerving metal explosion and whiplash 60-to-0 ending.
At this point, there was no going back, the energy increasingly ratcheted up onstage and in the audience with each song. They bounced between brand new tunes, older numbers—one felt like just an excuse to jam out, Cumming ending up in the audience dancing, rocking the bass and looking good doing it all the while—and plenty of crowd-pleasing material off the album, all showing off their wide-ranging influences and skills, and with “Easier Said,” they showed they can do a very radio friendly indie-rock song as well. All parties, no matter how great they are, must come to an end, and Sunflower Bean encored with “Come On,” putting an exclamation point on an evening filled with them and ensuring that everyone there will RSVP ASAP when they get their invitation to the next one.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo