Hot Flash Heat Wave Heats Things Up In Boston
by Erin Christie
I remember climbing the stairs up to Hamden, CT The Space’s apartment-like green room on a rainy August evening, nervous and out of my mind with worry: I was to be having my first official portrait session with a band that I truly loved and admired, and needless to say, I was terrified. Hot Flash Heat Wave (comprised of members Adam Abilgaard, Ted Davis, Nick Duffy, and Jared Johnson) was technically the first band to ever take a chance on me and the quality of my work. For that—not to mention their utterly kickass discography—they’ve been at the peak of my list and on constant rotation ever since I was introduced to their surf rock-esque, synth-infused style.
Fast forward to March 6th, 2019: I I find myself in the midst of a fairly packed Great Scott in the middle of Allston, where Hot Flash is gearing up to play their first headlining gig in the area alongside BOYO and field trip. Despite their worries about a low turn-out, the night was jubilant.
Currently, the band is attempting to shed their old associations, opting for a sound that leans on lo-fi, psychedelic rhythms on their most recent EP, Mood Ring (released on February 15th). Despite the difference, this seems to be a step in the right direction. Their single, “Glo Ride,” features a sample of an absolute gem, even if your ears aren’t trained to recognize classic video game memorabilia. As the track opens, listeners are greeted with the blue fairy Navi’s tell-tale request, “Listen,” as exhibited throughout a majority of the Legend of Zelda franchise. It’s clear that they’re unafraid to experiment, and in the process, stumble upon greatness.
“I know I should’ve expected it/ But I’m just a fucking kid,” Davis laments in the chorus of single, “Head in the Clouds,” honing in on the existential dread associated with the lows of adulthood and facing hurdles in life. This track exhibits a “dream pop”-esque style, something that is very fitting for the already cheerful, bubbly quality that the band constantly emanates. Mood Ring, because of it’s more electronically rhythmic associations prompts a more laid-back feeling than past releases, and this is far from a bad thing.
Throughout most of their discography, this EP included, it’s nearly impossible not to find yourself bobbing your head up and down or swaying from side to side—undeniably, they’ve managed to write and produce some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever come across. In a live setting, this quality is even more apparent. During singles “Dirty Dreamer (XXX)” and “Hesitation,” it was beautiful to witness two audience members side stage, engaged in a seemingly choreographed routine in time with the band. Surveying the room, the audience appeared to be totally lost in the moment, appreciating the amazing display before them.
Regardless of whether or not you appreciate Hot Flash for their charismatic guitar-emphasized earlier tracks from their first record, Neapolitan (2015), witnessing their seamless transition into Mood Ring (2019) is a sight to behold. Hot Flash Heat Waves’ ambition in pursuing sounds/styles that they personally enjoy as opposed to catering to what they’re known for is truly admirable, and in that sense, they stick the landing. Watching the boys grow within this past year alone has been a pleasure, and I look forward to seeing where they’ll be in the future.