Julia Cumming is pursing her lips on stage. There’s a problem with Sunflower Bean’s keyboard that means live member Danny Ayala can’t play. Ten minutes after the New York band are due to take to the stage, after a series of the members worriedly scurry across the boards trying to make things work, they finally tear into their set with a roaring take on ‘King Of The Dudes’. As they play, drummer Jacob Faber punches the air, drumsticks in hand, looking like he’s having a great time despite the technical difficulties.
Cumming’s frustrations are apparent throughout the set, although she vents them in a useful way – geeing up the crowd from flat and lifeless to jumping around the muddy Williams Green tent by the end of the set. It’s understandable why she’s annoyed – you can tell when Ayala’s presence would have made things richer and fuller, but no frazzled instruments will stop Sunflower Bean, especially not at their first Glastonbury appearance. “We came from New York to play here but the keyboardist can’t play any songs cos the keyboard got fried,” she yells in a rasp bark after a dreamy ‘Twentytwo’. “We’re gonna have some fucking fun anyway!”
Fun is definitely on the agenda. An extra fuzzy, psych-y ‘Tame Impala’ (fitting given tonight’s Other Stage headliners) sees Cumming leap down to the barrier and stare out the crowd, before she and guitarist Nick Kivlen finish things off by both ceremoniously lifting their guitars above their heads, in total sync. Debut album track ‘Easier Said’ has to be restarted because of another issue, but second time around goes as smoothly as the frontwoman’s velvety vocals. ‘I Was Home’ benefits from a big old jam sesh, showing off the noodling side of Sunflower Bean, as opposed to their poppy immediacy.
It’s not until ‘Come For Me’, the closing song of the trio’s truncated set, that Cumming really goes off, jumping off of her platform once again to shout, “What the fuck is up? I don’t give a fuck about tonight, I don’t give a fuck about tomorrow,” before climbing over the barrier and getting into the thick of things. From there, she conducts the crowd with every ounce of her plentiful star power, making them get down and then jump up. Everyone does as their told, the circle of space surrounding her disappearing as the audience mosh around her on her command.
Sunflower Bean played:
‘King Of The Dudes’
‘I Was A Fool’
‘I Was Home’
‘Come For Me’