live review

HEALTH, Transmission Room, Auckland

HEALTH, Transmission Room, Auckland

February 19 2010
Transmission Room, Auckland

Reviewed by Soong Phoon
30th March 2010

Friday night was a good night. The Transmission Room on Mayoral Drive is usually a suffocating, overheated death trap. On Friday, it was curiously empty; a promoter's nightmare, but concert-goer's dream. Thunderous drums and shrieking feedback opened the set, and HEALTH unleashed their frenzied noise-rock on an audience no larger than seventy. For a band with so much raw intensity, HEALTH have an astounding degree of precision and control. They're able to launch abruptly into a ferocious assault on their guitars, bass, Zoothorn, and drums, stop for a moment of silence, and then start again with no lapse in momentum. Lead guitarist Jupiter Keyes and bassist John Famiglietti took turns savagely pummeling floor toms for several of the songs in addition to BJ Miller's violent, tribal rhythms. Live, Jake Duzsik's vocals have a haunting, ethereal quality which stands out in sharp contrast to the aggression of HEALTH's blend of electro-pop and hardcore noise-rock, and then he screams, and it's also awesome.

HEALTH were onstage for little longer than fifty minutes, but played most of the singles from their debut album, including 'Triceratops', 'Crimewave' and 'Glitter Pills' and most of Get Color. During 'Die Slow', the bassist ("stone cold fox" according to numerous members of the audience) flung himself across the stage, flailing his arms and long black hair, and writhing to the music. With each searing stab at his guitar Keyes widened his mouth to a point where he looked like he was about to scream. During the set Duzsik was constantly toweling himself off, I actually just couldn't believe that all four didn't collapse from sheer exhaustion. 'In Violet' showcased the band's ability to play, dare I say, beautiful, bewitching music amidst the scorching distortion of their sound.

But 'showcase' is the wrong word. We've seen a lot of performances this summer, but few bands that are utterly immersed in the music they're making, and are enraptured by it whilst playing live. HEALTH's show was an awe-inspiring, visceral experience that really isn't captured on their records. The crowd was into it, jaws dropped most of the time. It's been a long time since I've been utterly enthralled by a band, and I actually did kinda wish it was packed out so I could get violent in a mosh pit. An impassioned audience member yelled "Never leave the stage!" when the band came back on for a one minute encore, and I wholeheartedly agree. Thank you HEALTH.

Soong Phoon

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