Los Angeles noise quartet HEALTH put on a pulsating, sweaty set Sunday afternoon at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.
A sign of things to come came during the sound check. At 2:51 p.m., ugly bass boomed through the audience of several thousand concert-goers. The fuck-load of distortion and noise pedals at the foot of microphone stand and other tools for aural assault were at plugged-in and at the ready.
When the set began about 3 p.m., three-fourths of HEALTH lurched around the stage with their instruments, spewing a punk-as-fuck attitude while hammering out danceable noise. They showed they were comfy on stage by spending a considerable amount of time rolling around the stage or crouching to quickly -- but precisely -- adjust pedal knobs between songs.
Despite the amount of synthetic, electronic instrumentation that HEALTH executes on its brand of hardcore dance, there's one sound that provides an organic foundation: The drums, the drums, the drums. The drum set is the engine that keeps HEALTH sets alive, especially during "CRIMEWAVE," a song from the HEALTH//DISCO CD released in May. Live drum sets backing electronic music has been a trend for quite some time, but it's not without reason: digital drum drum machines sound like a Nintendo in comparison and lack human energy.
With two guitars, a bass and a "roving tom" that is rapped in time with the drum set, the industrial/punk noise of HEALTH sounds almost human when all its parts are clicking in time.
HEALTH will perform on Tuesday at the Bluebird in St. Louis.
Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.