HEALTH – THE MOHAWK – AUSTIN, TX 11/13/15 (SHOW REVIEW)
Tragedy was ripe in the minds of those gathered at the Mohawk. Paris was under attack and the epicenter of the carnage had been focused around a rock concert. Yet here they were; punks, goths, hipsters, scenesters, and the undefined had gathered in solidarity to shirk the fear-mongering hate intended to paralyze us with fear. Some present were oblivious, some vehement, yet all were inherently defiant.
The L.A. noise rock band HEALTH are staunch individualists that have bucked the yolk of being labeled under a palatable genre and manifested their own unique sound instead. Their return from a six-year hiatus of recording with their new album, Death Magic (REVIEW), was cause for celebration for fans who were content-starved but also for the sole fact that the band hadn’t been permanently relegated to the ‘Where are they now?’ file.
Pictureplane served as the opening act and was effective in getting the crowd frenzied and swaying to his DJ dance-anthems. While HEALTH’s guitarist, Jupiter Keyes, who is also the boyfriend of Alice Glass, was mysteriously absent, he was not missed. The trio of remaining HEALTH members emerged as a cohesive and symbiotic juggernaut that embodies larger-than-life visuals and a magnanimous vessel of sound that pours out like a baptism of noise.
Opening tracks like “Zoothorns”, “Crimewave”, and “Die Slow” gave the audience a taste of HEALTH-induced nostalgia from their earlier work. The tribal percussion involved brought the primal and animalistic side of the audience to the forefront before attenuating into the more structured contemporary tunes, like “Tears” and “Men Today”.
The stage presence of HEALTH can never be overstated, the visceral wantonness of drummer Ben’s masterful beats, bassist John’s sexualized head-banging, and cathartic nature of singer Jake’s blissful aloofness amidst the havoc, makes for unique entertainment.
Highlights of HEALTH’s set included many of the new tracks off of Death Magic. “Stonefist”, “Dark Enough”, and “Life” show that the band has embraced some pop influences that meld perfectly into their sound with obvious emotive benefits.
HEALTH’s therapeutic treatment of human emotion was comforting, addressing the savagery and coldness of our thoughts, but then oscillating into a universal acknowledgement of pain and existentialism that we all can sympathize with. While the show at the Mohawk last night might be considered a welcome distraction from the macabre news pouring in from France, it also became a holistic exercise of grief, excising primitive anger and then embracing our shared pain of mortality.
Originally Posted At Glide Magazine