Review: No Vacation & Hot Flash Heat Wave Bring West Coast Vibes to D.C.'s Union Stage

 No Vacation performs at Union Stage.

No Vacation performs at Union Stage.

No Vacation and Hot Flash Heat Wave, two bands hailing from San Francisco, brought wavy West Coast indie-pop to D.C.’s Union Stage Thursday night.

When city life bogs me down, the only thing that successfully cheers me up is finding a chill West Coast beat that reminds me Hey, at least there is another life beyond the confines of East Coast city living. For that reason, No Vacation and Hot Flash Heat Wave have been stealing the majority of space in my music stream lately — and I'm not complaining.

The two bands, along with Surf Rock is Dead, played their bedroom-pop beats in front of a crowd of about 100 people during an intimate concert at Union Stage Thursday night.

After a humble intro from SRiD, Hot Flash Heat Wave took the stage decked in thick-soled, bright white Fila tennis shoes, tucked in sweaters, white leather boots, jean jackets and leather sandals. The 90s-esque fashion fit Hot Flash’s sound perfectly as the California natives belted out songs from their more recent 2017 album, Soaked, along with older hits.

 Jeffrey fucks it up on the accordion.

Jeffrey fucks it up on the accordion.

But it was the band’s newest member Jeffrey who truly stole the show when he stepped away from his keyboard and picked up an accordion that was hooked up to an amplifier.

I wouldn’t have imagined you could successfully rock out to such a distinct indie sound with such a massive and odd instrument, but as Jeffrey jumped around the stage compressing and expanding that rectangular monstrosity, I was gladly proven wrong.

As Hot Flash Heat Wave took down their set and No Vacation started to put up their own, the bathroom filled with teenage girls who were awestruck about meeting their favorite artists in such an intimate venue.

“He touched me! I can’t believe you guys made me talk to him,” one girl, clearly hyperventilating and holding a signed Hot Flash T-shirt, yelled at her friends. “I literally want to marry him.”

 No Vacation performs at Union Stage.

No Vacation performs at Union Stage.

Last to hit the stage was No Vacation. The bedroom-pop quintet started the night with “Sad Valentine,” one of the most upbeat songs they produced before indefinitely going on hiatus in 2016. Thankfully for their fans (and the dream-pop genre as a whole), the band regrouped in 2017 and has since released two new singles, “Mind Fields” and “Yam Yam.”

Aside from their hits, No Vacation introduced its audience to two new songs that are set to release later this year when the band drops its new album. If the dreamy and bubbly sound they showcased is a preface of what’s to come, then I am so stoked.

Of course the band’s sound live topped what it’s like when listening through my MacBook at 3 a.m., but it wasn’t just their music that allowed them to click with the audience. Both No Vacation and Hot Flash are younger bands with little touring experience under their belts, and it showed in the most genuine and quirky way Thursday night.

Hot Flash seemed shy on stage, and rarely stopped between songs to talk to the audience, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone who was there. No Vacation, on the other hand, didn’t know when to shut up—side tracking in conversations on stage about that guy that was shot in Chicago or how they didn’t realize it was still winter on the East Coast—but that’s just what makes them so lovable.

It was both of the bands’ first time playing in D.C. (members from both groups told the audience about that one time they visited with their mom when they were little or with their 8th-grade class on a field trip), but it won’t be the last. Next time they’re back, it’ll be with a bigger venue and a bigger crowd, but hopefully they’ll keep the genuine connection they share on stage and with their audience.


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