HEALTH at The Independent, by Ian Young
HEALTH (photo: Ian Young)

HEALTH and Youth Code hit the Independent Wednesday night on the second night of their tour together, bringing a healthy dose of LA noise and industrial dance-rock to San Francisco. Suffice it to say, the show was sick!

Youth Code vocalist Sara Taylor was the most vocally engaging performer of the evening, occasionally introducing songs and encouraging the crowd to dance and put their hands up. Ryan George was staying busy behind his production station, usually crouching down to focus on his synths and monitors. He kept his microphone cord wrapped around his neck and sometimes in this teeth, striking dramatic poses when it came time to shout his backing vocals.

The Los Angeles-based EBM duo's set spanned their entire catalog, playing fan favorites in addition to staples like "Carried Mask" and "Consuming Guilt." Sara Taylor had to stop and tie her shoe after performing "Tiger's Remorse," the single from Youth Code's first 7-inch. At one point, she was belting out the vocals while lying on the stage floor. After she was like, "Time to fuck this place up!" Taylor handed the mic over to the crowd on "To Burn Your World." The front-row fans successfully screamed the incendiary lyrics in a peak "fuck yeah!" moment of the night.

Youth Code even unveiled a brand new banger, with Sara Taylor saying "we've been in the studio" and revealing plans to release it on April 26. George mumbled something while Taylor was introducing the song, with Taylor quick to roast him for the hesitation. "What? You don't wanna play the new song? Do you have stage fright right now?" she teased. I think she said the working title is "Puzzle."

Youth Code's intense, engaging set would have been difficult to follow if not for HEALTH's crucial utilization of live drums, which echoed ominously throughout the space of the Independent. The introverted, industrial dance-rock group makes up for their lack of charisma with tight, propulsive rhythms and engulfing walls of sound — held in place by Jake Duzsik's glazed-over vocals.

The LA band now performs as a trio, with Duzsik playing guitar and singing lead vocals behind an array of pedals, John Famiglietti playing bass behind an electronics/pedal rig, and BJ Miller flexing his impressive skills behind a drum kit. HEALTH even brought in four of their own lighting monitors — which alternated between soft blues, ominous reds, and pulsating strobes.

The trio mostly played material from their new album Vol. 4: Slaves of Fear and 2015's Death Magic, opening with "Victim." The second song and second-to-last song were "Die Slow" and "We Are Water," both from 2009's Get Color. Old heads were pleased to revisit these enduring singles, while newer fans were excited to hear more recent HEALTH cuts like "Strange Days (1999)," "Stonefist," and "New Coke."

Focused on flawless musical delivery, Jake Duzsik addressed the crowd maybe twice during the set. Before launching into "We Are Water" towards the end, he said: “Thank you guys for being here. We have very limited stage banter.” He also literally said the word "encore" when they came back out for a bonus song — another sprinkle of deadpan humor. I was hoping that Youth Code would come back out with HEALTH for a performance of their collaborative single "Innocence" (listen below). Instead, HEALTH decided to close things out on their own with "Crusher" in a strobe-lit, guitar-shredding finale.

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