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Show Review: Interpol and Sunflower Bean glam up The Van Buren

Sometimes the rock show is pretty low key in the grand scheme of things, but it emanates the same buzz of intensity as the most rowdy on-stage parties.

That was the energy at The Van Buren on Monday night when Sunflower Bean and Interpol took the stage for a sold out crowd. In their true New York fashion, both bands brought bravado and glam and, of course, good old fashioned rock ‘n roll.

Sunflower Bean (also known to the Adults Of Instagram™️ as Sunlight Beam) kicked off the evening with psych-rock and the aura of decades past. Vocalist/guitarist Nick Kivlen wore a white suit straight off The Wedding Singer’s costume rack while vocalist/bassist Julia Cumming sparkled in the stage lights. Her glitter jumpsuit drew the eyes of the audience while she radiated Brooklyn cool.

Julia’s rocker chick persona shines through as a commanding presence on stage, one that recalls the most famous names of the protest rock era. Especially on their newest record, Twentytwo in Blue, Sunflower Bean’s music galvanizes the people to join the revolution and addresses the anxieties we face about the future. All these elements together produced a highly charged environment that caught the audience by surprise Monday night, like they had forgotten the protest genre is still very much alive and well.  


There was not much time spent on commentary, but in a sweet moment, the band dedicated a song to their manager, Crista, who travels with them on tour. It’s easy to forget that they’re so young, all only 22, with the retro soundscapes that define their music.  

Interpol was fashionably late to their own set, and as the lights dimmed they walked on stage like they owned the place—not in an arrogant way, but with the confidence of veterans. All things considered, they are veterans after two decades of making music together. So while they may be coming back after a three-plus year break, they sounded refreshed and settled into new and old tracks alike.

The band is touring in support of August’s Marauder, so the set list reflected a focus on the new material that they’ve cited as being driven by “urgency and communication.” New singles “If You Really Love Nothing” and “The Rover” drove their opening act and brought the whole venue to life, while tracks from 2005’s Antics and 2002’s Turn on the Bright Lights elicited whoops and hollers and lots of lip syncing.


Banks smiled and simmered and definitely did not interact with the crowd beyond introducing songs by name and thanking everyone for coming out. Instead, the show went on as the band powered through some of their most well-regarded songs back to back (without it feeling like a Greatest Hits album).

An Interpol show is a no-frills experience that caters to the hang-back-with-a-cocktail crowd. You gain a new appreciation for the music itself, so much so that you don’t miss the theatrics of a typical performance. Despite their long careers, they continually seem to be in their prime and show no signs of stopping. So while we might not know what the future holds (looking at you, Sunflower Bean) at least it definitely holds Interpol.  


Story and photos by Taylor Gilliam

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