It was surprise to not find West Germany heaving for HEALTH’s appearance but opening act, Birds of Avalon put a brave face on the reticence of the audience. Moving his keyboard onto the floor, Craig Tilley asked us to “Come a little closer” and with some reticence the audience did.
Birds of Avalon have all the rock moves associated with stadia (half their line up are alumni of The Cherry Valence) and at West Germany those moves came across as very big indeed. Tambourines were rattled, hips were shaken and between songs, mini-Floydian drifts made sure that the pace never slackened.
Headliners HEALTH, whose star has risen fast enough to earn them the derogatory label of hipster noise, were anything but. From the outset uncanny croons, screams and feedback meshed to tight rhythmic discipline and ferocious energy.
Diligent internet research reveals that HEALTH comprise a medical historian, a document specialist, an ESL teacher and an antique store clerk and one can only hope they have given up their day-jobs to deal with a massive schedule of touring, re-mixes and T-Shirt design.
HEALTH are an 8-bit car crash of catastrophic proportion. Already remixed by the likes of Crystal Castles (Crimewave) and Narctrax (Heaven) they come out of a Westside L.A scene which seems to be bursting with new ideas. Here (musically) the Liars can be found mugging Yamantaka Eye for small change while Black Dice keep a look out. AIDS Wolf are to be found cruising these streets or hanging out at The Smell, the in-scene all-ages club also much beloved of tonight’s headline act.
Courtesy of an array of abused FX pedals, oscillator drone and feedback merged with synchronised one note non-riffs and were punctured by pounded drums. The momentum of this shrieking, chanting, juggernaut, held together with gaffer tape and spit, could not be denied.
Jupiter Keyes, smashed away at a Syn drum, desisting only to retrieve a Rickenbaker bass from the back of the stage, whilst Jake Duzsik and John Famiglietti fucked the amps with their guitars. If reports are anything to go by (and we will have to wait another couple of years to confirm this) the next time they are in Berlin everyone (bar drummer BJ Miller) will be making a different contribution to this dissonant meritocracy of kitchen sink noise pop.
Birds of Avalon