It’s a wonderful thing to catch a band who are still teetering over the edge of great things and in that respect New York three piece Sunflower Bean are one of the most exciting live acts of the moment. Successful enough to fill the 600-odd capacity Tufnell Park Doome but willing to help out their own merch stand, even in the aftermath of their phenomenal debut album there’s a tangible sense of untapped potential still surrounding them. After support provided by FISH and POND favourite Oscar, the trio kicked off their set with album opener and title track Human Ceremony, an enticing, quiet psych number that from the off brings out the inter-band chemistry from behind their almost shy exteriors, vocalist Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen bouncing off of each other’s energy.
The band’s subtle nuances of style and sound mean there’s never a dull moment in the set: 2013 is propelled forward with a sinister power and Cumming’s brooding, dark bassline- which pulls her down into the crowd to freak out with a sea of her headbanging disciples. Easier Said gives everyone a breather in its moment of reflective beauty – but it’s at their most brutal that Sunflower Bean come into their own. Straight up rock and roll anthem I Was Home comes out with all guns blazing and has a committed core of fans writhing and leaping like fish out of water, and it’s a similar story with Wall Watcher, whose demonic craze lands the title of song of the night. The band seem overwhelmed at the response, “Thank you guys for the moshpit” might be perhaps the least rock n’ roll sentence to ever grace a gig but the sincere gratitude they show is endearingly humble and a welcome change from the archetypal cockiness of most guitar music.
Album closer Space Exploration Disaster is as otherworldly as the name suggests and live it’s a drawn out psych rock jam that reaches stratospheric heights of ecstasy before finally, exhausted, they leave the stage, exulted and triumphant.