At the bustling spot where Chrystie meets Houston in the Lower East Side, beneath the upscale Public Hotel that towers above the neighborhood, Public Arts is a venue with that hidden-in-plain-sight appeal that makes certain NYC shows feel so unpredictably cool. Walking in, you’re already lounging in the balconies, and a stroll down the spiral staircase brings you right up to the stage. A cluster of fans and industry folks were gathering there early on Wednesday night to secure spots for a private “Not A Grammy Party,” presented by Mom + Pop Music, featuring labelmates Hinds and Sunflower Bean. Being an unadvertised gig with two much-loved bands, the excitement was dripping off the walls, and the small, somewhat-secret show quickly turned into a memorable one.
Hinds, the Madrid-based indie rockers who burst into action for their opening set, put on a performance that was packed with personality. Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote, who both served up fiery guitar licks and a stage-stomping presence, were joined on vocals by bassist Ade Martín, and the triple-threat of their adrenalized voices made every song a blast. Powered by the snappy beats of drummer Amber Grimbergen, Hinds spread their energetic, carefree vibe and showed off brand new songs from their forthcoming album, I Don’t Run. Other highlights included their exuberant cover of the 1973 Kevin Ayers song, “Caribbean Moon,” and their own “Castigadas en el Granero,” which came with an undeniably adorable intro from Perrote. “We know there are…hopefully…a lot of important people here tonight, so we wanted to play this song to show off our skills and choreography,” she announced proudly. It was an instant party with Hinds as they quietly drained Miller High Lifes between songs, and loudly persuaded the audience to clap and jump as they played. Their party continued even when Sunflower Bean started rocking, as all four members of Hinds danced, sent beer fizzing overhead, and sang along to every word from the center of the crowd.
Sunflower Bean – the New York alt-rock outfit made up of lead singer and bassist Julia Cumming, guitarist Nick Kivlen, and drummer Jacob Farber – had a strong set in store for the intimate audience gathered before them. Cumming, who donned a gorgeous Rickenbacker when she took the stage, announced their hometown in style before the first song. “We are from New York fucking City, bitch! Let’s play some rock music.” The NYC crowd was obviously smitten, but it was the first, bold beats of “Burn It” that officially got them hooked. The trio sunk into a good groove immediately, cutting loose on solo sections and letting each song morph into whatever felt right in the moment. If you’ve been to a few shows, you know there’s a striking difference between bands who play a list of songs, and bands who really gel hard and rock out freely together – and Sunflower Bean undoubtedly belong to the latter camp. Digging into fan favorites from their 2016 debut album, Human Ceremony, as well as new material from their upcoming record, Twentytwo In Blue – including its addictive first single, “Crisis Fest” – Sunflower Bean visibly dropped some jaws with their mix of smooth shredding, sudden, arena-rock impacts, and Cumming’s earthy and dark yet tranquil vocals.
There was little that could mar such a solid, hard-rocking performance, but there were some technical difficulties at play during Sunflower Bean’s set – which were actually resolved in a really sweet moment with Hinds. “Hey Hinds, do you have a cable I could borrow?” Cumming asked with a relaxed grin early on in the show. “Mine is just kind of crapping out, and I don’t want that to happen again.” The members of Hinds leapt into action and supplied them with one of their cables, saving the day and spurring loud cheers from the crowd. “This is the most technically-difficult set of 2018 so far,” laughed Cumming, “but there’s no group of people I’d rather be experiencing it with.” The brief interruption was unfortunate, given how hard they were jamming, but seeing them respond so coolly to it was a treat. And of course, Sunflower Bean had no trouble diving back in with even more intensity, showing everyone what all the well-deserved buzz is about.
Photos: Shayne Hanley
Article: Olivia Isenhart