Words by Ryan Rafferty
Photos by Jonaki Sanyal
Kids must be drinking Nyquil instead of Boone's Farm to pregame for shows these days. The delicious Mountain Berry flavor is nearly the same color as the "nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, best sleep you ever got with a cold medicine" -- a very easy mistake to make. This can be the only explanation for the lethargic and apathetic crowd at HEALTH's sleepy midweek show at the cozy AV-aerie.
An enormous parachute billowed down from the ceiling and drooped behind the stage, creating a cocoon that allowed HEALTH to encase the entire venue in a cacophonous, frenzied, noisy silk. Uttering nary a word to the bobbleheaded crowd, the band tore through their set hitting on key cuts from their self-titled debut including "Triceratops", "Crimewave", and "Glitter Pills" in just under thirty sweaty minutes.
The languid atmosphere of the crowd was difficult to shake even by the sonic stunner "Tabloid Sores". Guitarist/vocalist Jacob Duzsik chanted over a hypnotic drum and synth line that without warning exploded into riotous freakout bursts with John Famiglietti pulling torturous robotic squeals from his bass. The crowd, either completely hypnotized in awe or completely blitzed on Nyquil, mustered only scattered head bobs to the rhythm.
Only one soul, Boone's Farm's neon green tint still fresh on his tongue, braved the crossed-arm pack and raged his heart out. He pleaded with others to join, "Fucking dance!" he screamed; but his demands fell on deaf ears. HEALTH seemed none the wiser, however. They dropped to their knees in an almost Hendrix-like pose over racks of pedals and electronics, conjuring demonic squeals. The first words spoken to the crowd was a humble thank you before tearing into their final song: thirty seconds of stunning pure punk noise.
Perhaps the most unexpected and flooring group of the night was Chicago-based Oakeater who played second. The trio played one extended piece that was a powerful melding of gorgeous synth drone, dark, scratchy vocals and apocalyptic tribal drums. However, not even Oakeater's swirling, hypnotic doom could shake the crowd out of their sleepwalking state. Moral of the story, we really need to get in touch with Boone's Farms marketing people.