By: Chad Murray
HEALTH | website | facebook | twitter |
Support: Vessel | website
Tufnell Park Dome | June 9, 2015
So, HEALTH once again rocked the fucking house.
Last time I saw HEALTH I was a fourteen-year-old boy who didn’t know how to shave and couldn’t legally imbibe alcohol. This time I’m twenty years old, suitably inebriated and enshrouded in the sweat of fellow enthusiasts.
In the five or so years past since I saw them support Crystal Castles, HEALTH have progressed far more than I have. The band have gone from the backs of their second LP Get Color to the heights of scoring Max Payne 3 and promoting their highly anticipated third album DEATH MAGIC.
The show starts in typical fashion; an uneasy crowd anxiously awaits a performance; chattering, dancing to the pre-gig PA tracks and getting pissed. I can overhear die-hard fans talking about how they first saw HEALTH near on ten years ago when the band first came to Britain and how a lot of the fans here today are as a result of the Crystal Castles gigs and Max Payne 3 commercial success but, I don’t give a fuck about that. I hear guys saying shit like “I’ve heard these guys are insane” “These guys are supposed to be the balls’ balls” and I think “You have no fucking idea.”
Vessel ambles on to the stage and I assume he’s a guitar tech or some other essential aid to the artist known as Vessel. Nope. The guy walks straight out of the streets of top man to the gates of hell with the flick of a pedalboard. His prosaic appearance fades in the noise and all thats left is ironic aural fractals of his character: this why he is called “vessel” ‘cause he is a conduit for some gnarly shit.
I watch the entire set with my head pressed against the amplifiers yet I’m not the only one who can feel the dissonant hymn pulsating and vibrating. I turn my head to see members of the audience describing in pantomime something to the same effect. I find myself strangely captivated in the mundanity of the performance, everything seems to be in a narcotic state of otherworldly realism. The sounds seamlessly cascade into each other and admittedly the whole performance feels like it was one song with several spellbinding movements to the extent that when Vessel finishes playing I check the time in amazement that only ten minutes have elapsed. That was really fucking good.
Vessel walks away in silence as the applause slowly dissipates and in that silence anticipation builds.
A lot of people hear HEALTH’s songs and note that they’re straddling a line between pop and noise and the noise usually washes away the bulk of the audience but it shouldn’t, ‘cause HEALTH aren’t just an album band. HEALTH are like Joy Division or Nine Inch Nails or some shit. Their album is a completely different piece of art to their live performance, which is a visceral trip into the mind of a demented demiurge crafting a world of musical ecstasy. Picture arms flailing, heads thrashing and teeth gnashing – that’s just Jon (the band’s bassist) meanwhile BJ is hammering the fuck out of the drums like slabs of meat in a Philadelphia butcher shop and Jake is crooning disembodied vocals like a witch in detritus.
The man who never seems to get much of a look-in with regards to HEALTH and “journalism” is Jupiter, the man who seals the pink ribbon on the band. Jupiter stimulates all manner of musical keys and instruments/pedals in each set in what I imagine is a very close crossover between instrumental excellence and foreplay. I can’t help notice that Jupiter looks like Olav from Clerks as well and he certainly rocks the metal face like a motherfuckoar as well yet, I couldn’t necessarily endow him with being the band’s berserker. Have you ever seen someone leap twelve feet whilst carrying a bass guitar? Both times I’ve seen HEALTH, Jon has achieved this feat/these feet and both times I could only watch in awe (and mime “H O L Y S H I T”).
The band give onehundredandeightymillion percent (%) in everything they do and it shows. The gigs are like the music but, on a whole other level, its almost performance art, it’s like watching 200 BC’s greatest bard performing his last song to Caesar in the Coliseum before he gets torn to shreds by fucking lions… I mean fucking lions, like lions fucking. ‘Cause that’s kind of the HEALTH paradigm, in a roundabout sort of way. It’s post-apocalyptic, disturbingly sexual and carnivalesque in a rave culture kind of way but, I haven’t really talked about the songs yet so, I’ll get to that now.
The band played all their hits: ‘DIE SLOW’, ‘WE ARE WATER’, ‘NEW COKE’…all that shit, that’s all there. It’s really good. If you’ve not heard of them, these three songs all have some of the best music videos ever made and Jon actually directed two of them (‘DIE SLOW’ and erm, ‘NEW COKE’) so, if you’re unfamiliar with HEALTH czech them out. I’d say ‘WE ARE WATER’ is probably my favourite music video ever made apart from a really esoteric local band’s esoteric video which I’m endophorically referencing here to distance myself and enjoy some esotericism with some guys I know, it’s called ‘Mudman’s Brunchday’ anyway and it’s by a Scouse band called Lovecraft and it featured a guy meeting another guy on the internet and the guy who originally meets the guy (with consent) cuts off and devours his new acquaintance’s phallus. It’s quite amusing.
But, I digress.
The point is that HEALTH are a band on the rise much like one of my other favourite bands, The Twilight Sad and also like The Twilight Sad, HEALTH are getting places by insectivoids like me howling their praises in small town shopping centres and writing their name in feaces on prison walls and also/mainly by being really fucking exceptionally talented and ineffably brilliant. So, if you think so called “music guys” like myself have an opinion to be considered I’d say listen to HEALTH and then go and watch them live because it’s not like seeing just another band it’s like seeing your favourite film and then finding a shit load of companion pieces that embiggens the spirit of the original.
Thanks for listening to the brunch hour.