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.