Review: Sunflower Bean Brings Psych-Punk to Columbus

On Thursday night, Sunflower Bean came through Columbus’ Rumba Café to play a headlining set for the capital city.

Sunflower Bean / PC: Abby Kruthoffer

They are currently on tour opening for the Pixies, and will soon join on Wolf Alice’s UK tour, so this was one of the few opportunities lately to see them play their own show.

Columbus female-fronted bands Betsy Ross and Hello Luna both played tight, entertaining opening sets. With only a drummer to back her up, Charity Crowe of Betsy Ross had captivating lyrics and great commentary in between songs.

Hello Luna, a four piece, played an electrifying half hour, with funky bass lines and great guitar solos (played by a backup guitar player).

Sunflower Bean came out and played two new songs right off the bat, which can only mean one thing: new music is on its way. By the end of the night, over half their set amounted to new material, which they teased they couldn’t say anything about.

These new songs sounded great – particularly one towards the end of the set with a fantastic, pure rock guitar riff. It’s been almost two years since their debut, so hopefully we’re due for a new record in the coming months.

Julia Cumming of Sunflower Bean / PC: Abby Kruthoffer

The band played its biggest songs from Human Ceremony, including their most popular single, “Easier Said” towards the end of their set. The back and forth between singer Julia Cumming and guitarist Nick Kivlen on certain songs like “2013” was a creative, interesting dynamic.

The duo’s stage presence was energetic, coming together to face each other at some points and taking advantage of the whole stage. Cumming almost reached the ceiling when jumping and got down the floor on her knees during one of the instrumental breakdowns.

Although the production of their recordings doesn’t particularly showcase Cumming vocal capabilities, it was surprising to learn she can seriously belt it. Kivlen made the music interesting with solos and catchy riffs, while her Rickenbacker bass filled out the whole band.

Their set ended after about 40 minutes, but the audience demanded another song until they poked their heads out from backstage. “We weren’t really planning on playing another song!” said Kivlen. “We haven’t done this one in like, seven years.”

They launched into “Space Exploration Disaster”, the last song on Human Ceremony. It ended with some triumphant final notes and a lot of feedback, fading out the night.

Featured image: Andy DeLuca

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