The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

LIVE REVIEW: Sunflower Bean @ The Wardrobe, Leeds 20/11/2018

Zig-zagging my way through the rain to The Wardrobe for some female-fronted American rock, the fire of excitement was burning high, despite the drab weather. Brooklyn’s Sunflower Bean were supposed to lead tonight’s revolution with support from LA’s Jesse Jo Stark and the astounding Miya Folick. Three female fronted bands – that‘s always intriguing, especially as I gathered random titbits of information on the bands throughout the day. Like the fact that Miya Folick, in true millennial fashion, met her bandmates through Tinder, or how a course mate of mine was ridiculously enamoured while trying to describe Sunflower Bean Nick Kivlen’s virtuosic guitar ability.


Sadly having missed out on Jesse Jo Stark, my only interaction with the band was their Wade Ryff stopping us on the staircase to compliment my friend‘s black trousers, painted with white eye patterns. Afterwards she commented that Jesse Jo Stark and her band were sharp dressers, as well as having created an intense atmosphere on stage. Yet, if anyone could be said to have had a special intensity to them, it was definitely Miya Folick and her band, whose almost raucous yet sensual stage presence was overpowering in the best way. Vocally bright, ridiculously confident, sticking her tongue out in punk fashion, Miya Folick commanded the stage fully, with both her movement and her increasingly heavier tracks, finally moving the hypnotized crowd from its standstill to the melodies from her latest release Premonitions.


To demonstrate female excellence in rock, the air was heavy with anticipation for Sunflower Bean to kick off the first show of their UK tour, all tense just to explode as Julia Cumming took her place with a bass guitar in hand. As a band, they were nothing but tight, a well-oiled rock’n’roll machine with some serious shredding action, perfectly explaining my course mate’s views on Nick Kivlen. Cumming knew how to receive and demand affection from the crowd if she felt it wasn’t sufficient, transforming the previously modest crowd to a roaring one – hooked to every rise and fall of Sunflower Bean’s alternative rock, following their every inflection. The young American’s unapologetic showmanship was met with open arms, all joining in to shout “No! No! No!”, later resulting in hard-guitar cacophony as the finale of the set.


Sunflower Bean brought many delights during the night, from showing off their latest single ‘Come For Me’ to the crowd’s delight, to excellent musicianship and an overall atmosphere of sexy confidence that comes with being entirely content with what one is doing. The initial excitement held strong in the air even after the set ended and the beast that is one’s hunger for an energetic rock performance satiated. Sunflower Bean, Miya Folick and Jesse Jo Stark are definitely artists to look out for, all projecting their vision outwards on stage and to the crowd in dazzling fashion. (Aisté Samuchovaité)

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