Free at Noon Flashback: Sunflower Bean discovers afternoon rock at World Cafe Live

Sunflower Bean | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s official, the consensus is in: afternoon rock shows are the best. Of course, the Free at Noon crowd has always known that, but it’s great to hear that Sunflower Bean agrees. When the band took the World Cafe Live stage this afternoon ahead of their sold-out show tonight at Everybody Hits, their surprise at the size and enthusiasm of the crowd was palpable. After kicking off their set with “Easier Said,” lead singer and bassist Julia Cumming wondered aloud, “Don’t you guys have anywhere to be?” The audience’s response — that they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else — was all the affirmation Sunflower Bean needed to pour a wild amount of infectious energy into their set.

The New York rockers are no strangers to XPN, though — they appeared on the World Cafe in 2016 following the release of their debut album Human Ceremony and were last month’s Artist to Watch. And you’ve probably heard “Crisis Fest,” the latest single from the band’s forthcoming album, on the airwaves quite a bit recently. If the super-catchy song wasn’t already stuck in your head, it probably is after today’s performance, which included a steady mix of Human Ceremony tracks and glimpses of new material. Sunflower Bean — made up of Cumming, Nick Kivlen on guitar and backup vocals, and Jacob Faber on drums and keyboard — are preparing to release their sophomore record Twentytwo in Blue, out March 23 on Mom + Pop Music.

While Sunflower Bean’s recorded songs veer almost into dream pop territory with their smooth and laid-back sound, the band are unmistakable rock stars live. Veterans of the Brooklyn DIY scene, Sunflower Bean delve into everything from personal heartache to political frustration, all with a polished sheen and plenty of catchy hooks that’ll have you dancing along in no time. They also know how to charm a crowd — today’s set included some timely football banter as the band expressed their support for the Eagles and Cumming revealed her newfound appreciation for sports (“A football game is like a gig, everybody gets pushed”).

In addition to “Crisis Fest,” some of the set’s highlights included Human Ceremony favorite “2013” and soft and melodic new tune “I Was a Fool,” plus a delicate rendition of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” which appeared on the band’s 2016 covers EP, From The Basement. Sunflower Bean encored with a previously unheard song from the new album, called “Twentytwo,” which also happens to be the band members’ ages.

Lucky ticket-holders can watch Sunflower Bean rock the roof off the batting cages tonight, and there’s already a glimmer of hope for the rest of us — the band promised profusely that they’d try to come back to Philly soon. Until then, read The Key’s recent interview with Sunflower Bean here and check out photos and listen back to today’s performance below.


Easier Said
Come On
Crisis Fest
I Want You to Give Me Enough Time
I Was a Fool
Harvest Moon
I Was Home

Human For



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