Alternative/indie rock, surf punk and trip-hop are just some of the words used to describe the various sounds of three groups that rocked Union Transfer this past Thursday. The bands — Hot Flash Heat Wave, HUNNY and The Frights — each brought their own unique performance and fans to the venue. Weeks ago when I first discovered this tour, I was intrigued by the type of concert that this combination of groups would form. I curiously purchased a ticket and headed to what would become one of the more wild shows I’ve ever witnessed.
Once concertgoers had finished filling the room from wall to wall, the four members of Hot Flash Heat Wave stepped on to the stage. Without an introduction, the band launched into their set with the song “Lonely Times.” What started as a collection of relaxed tunes featuring beachy guitar riffs and softened synths slowly transitioned into a faster, louder rock. As the music heated up, so did the crowd. The energy reached its peak with a rousing performance of the band’s most popular song, “Gutter Girl.” Though none of the four spoke very much, each live piece certainly lived up to its recorded equivalent, and fans were well pleased. Hot Flash Heat Wave is sure to be headlining their own shows in the future.
Following a short intermission, HUNNY took the floor next. The members of the group were covered in a host of tattoos, dressed flamboyantly and commanded the audiences attention. The band expanded upon Hot Flash Heat Wave’s energetic finish, with roaring guitars and striking voices. While in recordings HUNNY’s sound oscillates between alternative pop and rock, their live show erases the pop and embraces the rock. The setlist featured upbeat songs from each one of the band’s three EPs, as well as a special unreleased track played just for the fans at the concert. In a grand finale, the band played a rapid rendition of their song “Televised.” Fully welcoming the venue’s energy, lead singer Jason Yarger jumped into a particularly rowdy section of the vigorously moving crowd, finishing the final chorus in the frenzy around him. With this robust conclusion, the group had prepared the attendees for the third event.
Another 30 minutes passed before the Frights entered the main room. The deafening roar of the crowd indicated that this was undoubtedly the moment that it had been waiting for. Upon the strumming of the first chord, the tension built during the previous two acts of the concert erupted as every person became part of a jumping mass. The thundering music brought the crowd to an entirely new level as part of the room transformed into a grounds for manic collisions between jumping and running listeners. The Frights adopted a similar approach to HUNNY in the way they played, as even their calmer tunes took on a more aggressive tone. The singing (and sometimes screaming) performers hurdled from one song to the next with little to no breaks, creating a quick and cohesive experience during the majority of the set.
When it came time for the last song of the main act, only frontman Mikey Carnevale remained on stage. As he tuned an acoustic guitar and spoke about his family and previous performances in Philly, the invigorated crowd chanted “E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES” and implored him to play Free Bird and the Beastie Boys. Yet as Carnevale began to sing, a unified spirit overcame the building and concertgoers sang along to a soft rendition of “Of Age.” This spirit merely transitioned into further energy as the crowd bellowed to the backstage for an encore. The quartet reappeared to play three of their most popular works, during which the attendees again went into a craze. By the time The Frights thanked the crowd and walked off stage, every person at Union Transfer was tired, but well pleased with their experience at what was surely one of Philadelphia’s most rousing nights of music.
Though Union Transfer may be small, this concert demonstrated that it is certainly still mighty. Hot Flash Heat Wave, HUNNY and The Frights all helped contribute to a smoothly-run and exciting evening, with some of the most rambunctious music fans in the city coming to watch. Hopefully, the venue will continue to host bands of all sizes and backgrounds for similarly diverse crowds to enjoy.