From the stages of Glastonbury, Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Reading, and Leeds, as well as a recent sell-out at New York City’s Terminal 5, Sunflower Bean will open VersoFest 2023 at The Westport Library.
The Brooklyn-based band will take the stage for an intimate kickoff concert at the state-of-the-art Verso Studios Trefz Forum venue on Thursday, March 30, at 7 pm. DJ HYSTERICA will serve as the in-house DJ for the evening.
The festival will continue on Friday evening featuring headlining act The Smithereens featuring Marshall Crenshaw, with Amilia K Spicer kicking off the evening and the legendary Miriam Linna serving as DJ. A full slate of programs and workshops round out VersoFest 2023 on Saturday and Sunday, with famed producer Steve Lillywhite delivering the keynote Saturday afternoon.
VersoFest is a multi-day music and media festival/conference born out of Verso Studios at The Westport Library. Verso Studios is a library branch of the 21st century focusing on multimedia programming and commercial services as well as educational and content creation opportunities.
“Sunflower Bean is a prime example of a young band making their name through accessible media, blurring and fusing artforms and worlds, striving to make the world a better place through their art and activism,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “In 2023, Sunflower Bean exemplifies the virtues and aspirations of Verso Studios and The Westport Library. This is a magical pairing tying the local to the global, micro to macro.”
Sunflower Bean frontperson, New York City-raised singer-songwriter Julia Cumming, arrives at her dad’s adopted home base of Fairfield County hot off the band’s headlining presence at South by Southwest 2023. Recently, Sunflower Bean’s Headful of Sugar was named #41 of Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of 2022, and Consequence of Sound proudly referred to the band as “one of the most consistent and beloved staples of the scene.”
Cumming (bass, lead vocals), Nick Kivlen (guitars, backing vocals), and Olive Faber (drums) formed Sunflower Bean in early 2013, “made up of young people staring down a terrifying future and finding camaraderie in the eclectic rock ‘n’ roll aesthetics.”
Their 2014 College Music Journal Music Marathon performance received press from (among others) Jon Pareles of The New York Times, who described their sound as “… what might have happened if psychedelia had emerged after punk and the Police rather than before.”
The band has toured extensively with artists as disparate as Beck, Cage the Elephant, Interpol, Courtney Barnett, The Pixies, The Kills, DIIV, Courtney Barnett, and Wolf Alice.
Outside music, Cumming programs events through her project Anger Can Be Power, inspiring young people, particularly women, into concrete political action.
She is also active in fashion, with Yves Saint Laurent Creative Director Hedi Slimane having signed Cumming to an exclusive modeling contract. Cumming has been frequently cited as “Hedi’s muse.” Her career has expanded to modeling for top, au courant designers like Anna Sui, Elsa Schiaparelli, Max Mara, Rochas and Fausto Puglisi, as well as global campaigns for H&M and Diesel.
Cumming is an active member in the Model Alliance, a group that advocates for the enforcement of existing child labor and contract laws, promotes equal opportunity, and fosters a culture of accountability in the fashion industry.
Cumming is the daughter of Cynthia Harden and Alec Cumming, the latter a familiar Fairfield County presence at 89.5 WPKN FM with his Snap Crackle POP! radio shows and frequent vinyl DJ sets at Berlinetta Brewing.
Joining Sunflower Bean for the evening is DJ HYSTERICA, who has been igniting DJ decks throughout the tri-state area with her selections of 60s psych, garage, glam, power pop, ye-ye, greasy R&B, new wave, dark wave, and punk. This extends to HYSTERICA’s weekly Monday 3 pm Some Weird Sin show on WFMU’s Sheena’s Jungle Room and monthly Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio show on WHUS.
Tickets for Thursday night’s show are $25 in advance and available via Eventbrite. All VersoFest 2023 concerts are co-produced with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.