It’s not CBGBs or anything, but there’s no denying I was a small bit excited to see what the Music Hall of Williamsburg actually looked like. Crucible of Alt, sort of thing. It’s not that impressive. Just a Tripod-esque place on a slightly smaller scale. Kind of like seeing the Mona Lisa in real life or something. Not that I’ve seen that. But I have spent some of my life having lots of fun at HEALTH gigs, so, even though the only-doing-free-stuff rule was temporarily broken, I saw them play there.
The first support was a guy called Gold Panda, a sampler squelcher and accelerando enthusiast from (or with a very convincing impression of a person from) England. Some of his songs were fairly uninspired lo-fi electronics, but once he got going, he brought little Wham City leaps of joy into his tracks. His closer exploded with unexpected drum ‘n’ bass rhythms, too, which was a pleasant surprise. Lightly bearded and with his hood up for the whole set even though it was a ridiculous temperature for night time.
Second support were Indian Jewelry, who were more on the nightmare rock end of things. With strobe lights framing their affected four-across-the-stage moves (particularly the stand-up drummer), they seemed to be going for a Happening-type musical event, and it worked sometimes, but seemed a little too pretentious at other times.
But here’s the rub. HEALTH came on, and instantly a space started to clear in front of the stage. First, it was one or two semi-crusties elbowing the people in their immediate vicinity. But then hard beats dropped, and a mosh pit of about twenty to thirty developed. The crowd divided, as they tend to when there’s a mosh pit at a gig by a band made of less than 75% beard, into those who wanted to be on the fringe watching or drinking beer, and those who wanted to slam dance to Death+. I decided I wanted to slam dance.
The politics of the mosh pit are kind of interesting. There’s the guy who is just running into everyone and pushing people. There’s the guy who looks like he’d be moshing the exact same way if he was by himself. There’s the short girl who thinks she’ll be fine, then gets elbowed in the head and knocked over and has to be rescued and escorted back a bit, where she stands proudly and maybe says “whooooooooo”.
The highlight’s a foregone conclusion at a HEALTH gig, really. So Die Slow came, the music pulsated, the crowd bobbed en masse, the strobes made it seem even more like a heart attack, and then it ended and left a mess of breathlessness and riverine sweat trails down t-shirt backs. But an honourable mention to set-closer and newest HEALTH release USA Boys, the non-remix from the Get Color remix album. Slower, more hazey-gazey, but just as intense in its own way.
The encore was about 60 seconds of pointless jamming, but who cares. This is one of the best live bands in the world at the moment.