No Vacation // Live Review & Photoset

24th July | Exchange

Photos: Albert Testani

When I was living in Brooklyn last year, I was lucky enough to see No Vacation while they were supporting the group SALES. Like in Bristol, the show was full of hazy atmosphere, reverb and every song the band had in their catalogue. Unlike the headlining show on the 24th at Exchange, No Vacation had a hometown crowd in Brooklyn, along with a larger stage and the supporters of SALES, whom they easily won over. In the end, the whole crowd was swaying to the chill tracks and moving and grooving to the more upbeat ones.

My point of that preamble is that No Vacation take nothing for granted. They worked to get a midweek crowd stirring and dancing along to each track and that is no small task. While not strictly holding loyal to one genre, No Vacation are a dream-pop band and dream-pop bands usually make for more low-key shows and can veer into sleepy territory, like the label suggests. No Vacation don’t remotely lean towards this.

At the start of each song in the set, when the lead guitar comes in, something in your brain and in your legs, goes, ‘Ooooh’, caught by surprise and knowing you’ll be humming the line in your head for weeks to come. This was especially true on their most well known track, ‘Yam Yam’ and also ‘Mind Fields’.

They played new tracks from an upcoming EP, to be released in September, that they described as more ‘bop-y’ than their previous tracks. They were definitely more upbeat and faster than songs from their earlier albums, like AMO XO, but one of the best things about No Vacation’s laid-back tracks is that they also have a sort of bop to them. More than anything else, they’ve mastered the art of the catchy lead guitar riff.

This is No Vacation’s first time touring in Europe and the UK, something which they feel very aware and appreciative of. Another fun fact was that their current touring drummer stepped in less than a week before they left to tour and, in my opinion, you would have thought he was the writer of the drums for each track.

During the cover of a Cranberries’ track, ‘Waltzing Back’, there was an energy that went through the band that increased the pace of the rest of the set and felt like the group was settling into a groove, like they were channeling their inspiration from the original performers. As the gig began to wind down, the band opened up more about the tiring pace of tour life and a dislike of the concept of encores. After performing the final song of the set, ‘Dream Girl’, where they poured their last bit of energy into the up-tempo, pop-punk-ish jam, they left the stage to pack up and win over the next crowd.

See the video for ‘Yam Yam’ here: