HEALTH obliterated earlobes at Crescent Ballroom with a mix of noise and electronic alchemy

I've only ever seen leftover confetti fall from the rafters at the Crescent Ballroom twice in my life.

The first time was for reputable loud and noisy band, Swans, earlier this year. And the second time was for noise rock band HEALTH.  

Opener Pictureplane gave a less than impressive set. The electronic, one-time witch house producer recently released his first album in four years, titled "Technomancer." The sound of the live performance veered away from the way the music sounds on the Internet. 

The drums were much heavier, including a snare that came down with a crash on the back-beat. Deep sludgy bass-lines and interspersed vocal samples attended the flourish of lead synth at times. Pictureplane performed live vocals that were often muffled. Regardless of sound quality, the music still encouraged everyone to dance and many people in the crowd moved to the front of the audience and bobbed their heads. 

I was seeing HEALTH for the first time. My only exposure to the band prior to the show was via the collaboration with Crystal Castles, "Crimewave" and their newest album "Death Magic" (2015) which I had streamed earlier in the day on Youtube. 

The band is a three-piece set from Los Angeles. Rising to prominence as a "noise rock" band, many of the fans I talked to on the patio of Crescent talked about their preference for the older, heavier albums instead of the newer more dance-oriented ones. Without knowing too much about the band's discography, I assume the new album is a change of pace for the band because of its smoother and more electronic influenced sound. 

Immediately after moving toward the front of the audience for a good spot, I was struck by the awe-inspiring stage presence of the three members of the band. The bass player's impending presence and energetic head banging throughout the show gave off a primitive and raw air. At the other end of the stage, the guitar player and singer kept close to the microphone. The drummer did his thing behind these two. Only three people were on stage, yet the group seemed to fill it up more than Of Montreal did with a whole cast of characters. It's almost inexplicable. 

Read More: Of Montreal's live performance makes your nerves tingle like a St. Vitus dance

Being almost totally ignorant of HEALTH's music, I had no idea what to expect as a set list. However, a knowledge of the set's music was not in any way needed because, as two die-hard fans made their way to the front and began head banging, I found myself doing the same thing. 

As the band played a couple songs, they started to get into their slower and more melodic tracks. During these parts, I felt the impulse to head bang fade and be replaced instead by a desire to groove my body. I was not alone as others around began dancing back and forth, moving their shoulders and shaking their heads. However, a return to the heavy roots was always imminent and the band would slow down just to bring the energy down harder.

Health was hella tight #nofilter

A video posted by (@logansaether) on

The HEALTH show was one of the best shows I have seen this year, and it gets extra points for surprising me at that. Even though opening act Pictureplane was not as tight as it could be, his set still could hold down a discotheque. 


Reach the reporter at lsaether@asu.edu or follow @looooogaaan on Twitter.

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