A quorum of Chicago’s goth and industrial scenes descended upon the sold-out Bottom Lounge on The Devil’s Lettuce day for a tight hour from Los Angeles noise outfit HEALTH. A myriad of technical issues marred and ultimately ended their set at last summer’s Riot Fest far too soon, and at their 2015 show at Rock and Roll Hotel in D.C., the band blew the venue’s subs less than three songs in. Thankfully, no such problems presented themselves on this, the, uh, most chill of “holidays” we’ve made up.
The brevity of their show caught some in the crowd by surprise, but truth be told, it’s tough to ask for much more than 65 minutes of near punishment. To be fair, HEALTH’s most recent release, this year’s VOL. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR, stretches into new territory, and is surprisingly poppier than its predecessors, especially on songs like “FEEL NOTHING” and the title track.
Although it’s their first full album release since DEATH MAGIC in 2015, the group has been busy. In addition to their 2017 remix album DISCO3, if you’ve played a Rockstar video game anytime in the last decade or so, you’ve likely been treated to the group’s other specialty: scores.
So it won’t surprise you that the graphic nature of their videos (Watch “NEW COKE” only if you have a strong stomach), and games on which their music has appeared (Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne) has fed into their stage show, employing liberal use of strobes to create a visceral, borderline uncomfortable live experience.
And yet! When they weren’t pummeling your ears, it was utterly danceable, particularly on fan favorites like “DIE SLOW” and “L.A. LOOKS.”
While HEALTH is responsible for some deeply dark songs, their message is one of not giving up. The phrase “DON’T KILL YOURSELF” and a cell phone line where fans can reach members of the band at presumably any hour was emblazoned on some of their merch.
Fellow Angelinos Youth Code, a fierce industrial synth-punk duo, opened. The band released their single “INNOCENCE,” a collaboration with HEALTH, this past November
Chicago’s Replicant was the local support, and if you’re into leather jackets and very serious and self-important New Order worship, this will be your exact shit. Their new album Taste of Midnight comes out next month.