Review: Sunflower Bean @ Lincoln Hall

October 21st, 2016 at Lincoln Hall was a night of nostalgic, accessible rock music that never crossed the line of unoriginality. Throughout the entire night, whispers circulated in the crowd of such influences as Queen, Wolfmother, and The Mountain Goats, all the while combined with the collective feeling that we were discovering something together. It seems that happens a lot at our favorite Lincoln Park venue, doesn’t it? Local teenager Joe Bordenaro and his band, The Late Bloomers, opened up the show on this chilly Friday evening. Bordenaro’s style is one of musical maturity for his age, and it set the tone of nostalgia for the entire evening. Joe’s casual, yet focused composure was balanced by the occasional smile to some family members in the audience. With a healthy combination of groovy guitar lines and tasteful harmonies, this young band felt no need to overcomplicate the music and simply let their personalities shine through to the crowd. It was a perfect way to open up the night. Next up came New York’s The Lemon Twigs, yet another youthful group that only boasts one member that technically could’ve otherwise walked into the 21+ Lincoln Hall. These kids dropped jaws with their technical maturity on their instruments, particularly lead singer Brian D’Addario’s guitar playing, and brought a level of theatrics that wasn’t topped for the rest of the night. Seriously, some of these tunes should be immediately scored with a musical. Brian’s voice was strong and full, and it was the first time that I’d heard the same vocalist receive comparisons to The Mountain Goats’ Peter Hughes as well as Freddie Mercury. The ability to blend genres and emulate so many different generations of music at once didn’t go unnoticed in the crowd, and no one could help but walk away thinking that these kids could be going somewhere. I mean, The Beatles were these kids age when they were touring Europe! Seriously, put The Lemon Twigs on your watch list immediately and take a listen to their tunes here. Finally, the much anticipated Sunflower Bean took the stage. With the voice of Wayne Campbell yelling, “this girl can wail” in my head for the entirety of the set, lead singer Julia Cumming controlled the crowd with her unmatched confidence. The Brooklyn-based indie psych rock trio had no trouble energizing the crowd of this 500-cap room, particularly with Cumming jumping around with her Thunderbird in the front few rows during the set. The band was raw, yet controlled and together as a group. More importantly, however, Sunflower Bean proved their versatility. While their produced work shouts that this is a relaxing indie band that would thrive at an afternoon set at Pitchfork, their live show rattled the audience to the core. Their energy and passion alone makes Sunflower Bean a must-see next time they are in town. While the entire evening was far from disappointing, there was some feeling to me that The Lemon Twigs stole the show. Whether it was about their unbelievable musical maturity at their ages or the influences that brought listeners back to the '70s, I left Lincoln Hall still thinking about the second opener.
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Matt Brooks