HEALTH is still the best live band I’ve seen in recent memory. They opened for Nine Inch Nails in 2008, and we caught them in Atlantic City at The House of Blues. It was at that show that HEALTH overshadowed NIN, and I was convinced this band could do no wrong live. You can read that review here. Tuesday night at The Electric Factory HEALTH opened for Crystal Castles, who also supported NIN during part of that same year. In 2008, HEALTH had one highly inaccessible record in their catalog. Since then, they’ve release another LP (more accesssible, at least in HEALTH terms), put out a handful of excellent remixes, and did the soundtrack for the Max Payne 3 video game soundtrack. In four years, the band has developed a much more audience-friendly set to go along with one of the most energetic stage presences in today’s watered down scene. I’ve seen one too many electronic-heavy live shows where performers push a button and bob their heads. HEALTH use lots of effects but are always strapped with guitars and purpose for being on stage.
Highlights of the night included “Die Slow,” our favorite song of 2009. You know the setlist is going to be strong when a band can play their best song second in the set. “Tears” from the Max Payne Soundtrack and “USA Boys” from their Get Color LP pleased hardcore fans and created a legion of new ones in the process. The high point of the set was certainly the band’s remix of Pictureplane’s “Goth Star,” which features the main synth and keyboard melody from Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders.” The song was #6 on our favorite tracks of 2011.
Crystal Castles followed shortly after HEALTH satisfied a rather light crowd for The Electric Factory. Most of the crowd was obviously there to see Alice Glass do her crazy scream and crowd surf thing, and the audience loved every second of it. I was glad to hear a few new songs mixed in with some classics, although the sound was piss poor during Crystal Castles’ set. It was more likely an Electric Factory issue, as the venue has notoriously bad sound. Our least favorite show of 2008 was The Mars Volta at The Electric Factory, and that’s why we are just returning four years later. Crystal Castles surprised me by only playing a 30-minute set. They returned for an initial encore and left again shortly thereafter. The house PA went on, several of us started to leave, and then the band came out for a second short encore. The set still didn’t surpass 60-minutes, disappointing for a band that certainly has a large enough catalog to let patrons dance longer into the night.