Reviews \

HEALTH Perplex NYC’s Dance Party Seeking Hipsters

The Los Angeles-bred experimental rockers spur a bewildering reaction, and warm stage for headliner Crystal Castles' gloom and doom freak out.

As the first notes of HEALTH’s palindromic beatdown “//M” pounded through Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge last night (March 26), the audience seemed puzzled. Wasn’t this supposed to be dance music? But by the time the chanting melody of “Crimewave” (a song remixed by Crystal Castles into one of 2007’s best dance tracks) emerged from the tribal onslaught, expectations had changed.

A husky guy with a buzz cut, chin strap, and leather jacket began intently skanking to the industrial thump and skronk, as the rest of the room braced against beats so loud they threatened even the most feedback-tempered eardrums. Band members jackknifed their lanky bodies with every grinding note, and the drummer, a youthful Metallica roadie-looking guy with arms the size of muscled thighs, appeared to be on the verge of passing out by end of the nine-song set.

The audience, in the meantime, still wasn’t sure how to behave. Like too many voyeurs at a sex party, each seemed to be waiting for the other to start up the action. The insanity for which bands from Los Angeles’ Smell scene are renowned never quite caught on, but luckily for the eager crowd, Crystal Castles brought a secret weapon; as the house lights dimmed, a beat-timed strobe transformed the whole joint into an Atari-goth rave. Ahhh… chaos at last.

We asked: Seeing as tonight’s show is sold out, HEALTH are looking, well, pretty healthy. How healthy do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10 and why?