San Francisco-born dream-pop band No Vacation held two performances at Outside Lands over the weekend, opening up the main stage and later holding a more intimate show at the festival’s Music Den, set against a grassy hill under looming trees decorated with large, colorful disco ball-like ornaments. The day started with the band inspiring a mosh pit for the closing song of their first performance and ended with bassist, Nat, crowd surfing to close out their second performance.
No Vacation recently finished their West Coast tour in February of 2023 and since then has been visiting venues in and around California, their next to be at the Bellwether in Los Angeles on October 27. This year they released singles “How” and “I Will Always,” and after nearly a decade of creating music, remain enthused to put on an amazing performance for fans.
FLAUNT spoke with Sab, James, Nat, Harrison, and Alex of No Vacation after their Saturday performances about their first memories with music and the feelings of excitement they experienced at Outside Lands.
How does it feel to be back here in San Francisco, having just performed on the largest stage you’ve ever played?
Harrison: Amazing, it was a very full circle for all of us. We started the band here. We all left. Now we're back, and we’re playing. I went to this festival when I was eighteen.
It seems the festival is bigger this year than it has been in previous years.
Harrison: They sold a lot more tickets this year than they have, historically. They keep making it bigger and bigger. It's amazing. I love it and I also love the city so much.
What does your performance preparation look like?
Nat: There's no process…just practice, practice, practice, practice. Repetition is important. We play the songs, practice, hang out. There’s no secret to it.
Are you able to pin down a first memory with music? Is there any one thing that keeps you creating?
Harrison: So, we're the first band to play mainstage today. The last band to play on the mainstage today is Foo Fighters, and the first song I ever learned on guitar was “Everlong.” So that's kind of fucking awesome for me, at least.
James: I don't know how first this memory is, but I have a similar sentiment where in Kendrick played last night on the mainstage, and seeing him there was super surreal. My first festival experience was in college where he also headlined. Just like 10 years later, sharing a stage technically with Kendrick, I never would have imagined. So surreal to be up there.
Sab: My first cover was “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order.
Nat: There's a lot of things that keep me writing, but I feel like when I see an artist that has a really good performance I get inspired. It’s generally people that are up-and-coming because it’s like, ‘Oh, I want to be like them. They're doing it.’ The first cover that I uploaded on YouTube was by Jason Mraz. And then Alex and I, we did symphony and orchestra together in high school. When I was trying to learn guitar, Alex and I would sing, “Lucky” by Colbie Caillat. I got into music by starting in orchestra and performing.
Alex: On mainstage today, it did cross my mind that I started learning music when I was five and I didn’t really have much of a choice. It wasn't like it was forced upon me, but you know, you’re not really making decisions at that age. And once you start a child on any journey, you're not really sure where it's gonna take you. I didn’t imagine it would be here, you know? It was pretty wild to think about that. So that was a long time ago. That was like, my whole life ago…And here we are.
Sab: I think to go back, though, I learned to play guitar not because I wanted to play guitar but because my mom was like, “Oh, you should learn how to play music.” And I was like, “Okay, whatever.” And she was like, “You should learn how to play guitar because it will take you less time to learn that than the piano.” And I was like, “No…no girls play guitar.” And I was thinking about the people in my class that were taking guitar lessons, versus violin or piano and I was like, “No, I don't want to do that.” And then we're driving on the freeway– this was like a life-changing moment because we passed by a billboard–it was literally a punk girl shredding. And my mom was like, “Look. You said that. Look at that.” And I was like, “Okay, fine, I'll take a lesson.”
Do you set any intention behind evolving your sound?
Nat: We just do it as we go…we just wing it.
Harrison: The band's gone through so many changes. And I think what we do is just adapt. We don't have a formula. We don't have a right or wrong way that we do things, we just take it as it comes.
Anything cool coming up?
Harrison: We have a Halloween show coming up. On October 27, we’re playing at The Bellwether in Los Angeles. We just started working with Another Planet really closely and they just opened that venue with the owners of Teragram and Moroccan Lounge. It’s a great midsize venue like a 1,600-person cap. It just opened a month ago. I haven't been yet. I've heard it's amazing. It used to be Prince's personal nightclub. When they bought it, it had his logo, the artist’s logo in the floor, and they had to cover it because they would have to pay the estate to keep it. So I’m stoked to play there. Downtown LA. I live in LA, so it’s special for me, but it’s gonna be sick. I mean, once again, take it as it goes.
Photos Courtesy of Alive Coverage.