They may be from New York, but psychedelic indie upstarts Sunflower Bean slot right into the British scene, as – after supporting Wolf Alice in neighbouring Southampton – they prove once again in Portsmouth.
Bringing Los Angeles’ Miya Folick and Jesse Jo Stark with them, everybody is set for a night of stateside alternative. Stark, reminiscent of punk icons past Pauline Murray and Poly Styrene, alternates between heavy and mellow in equal measure, before giving way to the more soulful but just as emphatic Folick.
Sunflower Bean greet the crowd, emphasising their New York roots. They open with a couple of songs from their most recent album, ‘Burn It’ and ‘Twentytwo’, before turning back time with ‘Tame Impala’ from their 2015 debut EP. Heavier than their more recent work, it makes the crowd come alive, the room rocking to its garage-punk sound.
Frontwoman Julia Cumming intermingles with the crowd, a pit forming in the middle of the audience which she gladly becomes the centre of. Although she is surely the focal point of the group, bandmates Nick Kivlen and Josh Faber aren’t exactly lurking in the shadows, as the trio combine to put on the spectacle. Their chemistry on stage is welcome, as they seem happy to be with each other, and with the audience.
A handful of songs from both of their albums pad out the set – ‘Crisis Fest’ shows off Cumming’s vocal prowess, while the HAIM-esque ‘Come For Me’, from upcoming EP King of the Dudes, is one of their stand-out tracks. With it’s fuzzy college-rock vibe, ‘I Was Home’ culminates the main set. The band have time to fit in one more song however, as ‘Wall Watcher’ provides the encore. It’s not the longest set in the world, at 12 songs, but Sunflower Bean show that perhaps less is more. Could they follow in the footsteps of Wolf Alice and one day headline the Guildhall? On this showing, it’s certainly possible.
Words by Adam England
Read our Q+A with Sunflower Bean here.