On Wednesday at One Eyed Jacks, Los Angeles based HEALTH, accompanied by Rhode Island thrashers Daughters, showed up in Nola ready to remake a loud mess of things. Intended opener Show and the Body weren't able to make it, so instead, we got SRSQ, another one from California for a brief 30-minute set. Her mix of pop music, heavy in the synth department seemed to go over well with the audience, which surprised me, seeing as the next two bands were more aggressive and heavy. Either way, she was entertaining and hopefully, she'll be around again.
Next was HEALTH, who graced the stage under a fortuitous darkness bubbling with strobe lights. For the next forty-five minutes or so, the trio consisting of Jake Duzsik playing guitars and vocals, drummer Bj Miller and John Famiglietti pulverized the by then capacity crowd with some of the heaviest yet bouncy beats in the indie music world. It didn't hurt that the now blinding multicolored strobe lights were doing their job more than efficiently. Throughout the set, all three members showed the audience a worthy co-headlining set, notably lead vocalist Duzsik who never stopped delivering the crisp but dangerous vocals the band has maintained through their thirteen year, four-album career.
One of the more interesting aspects of the show was the mix of fans there to see one brand over the other. It was clear many of our more gothic residents in town turned out for HEALTH, While the more pure metalheads came out for Daughters. It didn't make a difference, as the club stayed full for HEALTH even though it wasn't the most obvious co-headlining tour of recent memory. The package worked somewhat, but the difference in crowd attention to both bands was quite clear.
Even so, while Health was just as good on this night as they were last time they ventured to New Orleans, the intensity of the stage show took its toll. Frankly, my eyes were still seeing spots even after the set ended, but what can you do. It's a metal show, and those tend to have intense lighting to compliment the heavy quality of the music. Health is consistent, but as the set sprinted to the finish, it was clear much of the audience had lost the momentum and continued waiting for Daughters.
Around 11:20, Daughters casually took the stage to the eerie classic "Goodbye Horses," which if you're like me reminds you of the infamous Buffalo Bill scene from Silence of the Lambs. Playing in front of a backdrop featuring the band's last album cover, the stage filled with smoke, which if you've never been to a concert before typically signals the start of the set.
To be honest, during the opener number the sound and delivery left something to be desired, but as the show went Daughters found their groove and smothered OEJ in deep colors, thick and immense instrumentation, and a frontman prowling the stage like a heavy metal assassin playing it cool. Cool intros and a big blast of energy are always great at the beginning of a set, but Daughters kinda just started making noise. Not necessarily a bad thing, just something most bands don't do, which is admirable. The songs were primal, guttural and desperate, in a way most bands aren't willing to showcase. Daughters though is a fearsome six-piece that seems poised for world-conquering, they're just waiting for everyone else to catch on to their madness.
It was more punk rock-inspired than the band's records indicate, but it was never dull. Songs like "The Lords Song" shattered with madness as the crowd erupted into a massive mosh pit, all the while being egged on by frontman Alexis S.F. Marshall as he angrily navigated the crowded stage. It was exhausting from start to finish, but again it's a metal show so it's expected. Overall, while all three bands on this evening was enjoyable to watch, the major attention was given to Daughters. Their fan base was just far more engaged in what they were doing than the bands that came before. This is unfortunate, but it just shows that sometimes while things look good on paper, certain pairings are naturally going to leave the individuals more interested in one band over the other at odds about how to show appreciation to both headlining bands. Great show, but it felt disjointed at moments, especially during Health.
Photos courtesy of Steven Hatley