by Ben Funkhouser
photos by Isabel Yasui
Pregnant weren’t who I thought they were. There are other bands called Pregnant, and I had assumed that there weren’t many noise rock bands called Pregnant in existence. Apparently though, there are, and this particular Pregnant was my favorite of all Pregnants. This Pregnant is comprised of some volunteers from Ground Zero, Bellevue’s all ages venue/teen center. They brought about 20 kids from the teen center with them to the show. They started with a really a-tonal double guitar strum that sort of sounded like the more abrasive parts of Swirlies songs, or a Polvo break. But this part, unlike those in the aforementioned bands, went on for a good 2 minutes before they hit the distortion and screamed out a fast chorus. They had the alternate tuning-Sonic Youth-Polvo thing down to a science, in a way that was not quite original, but by no means a rip off of either band. They were intense in a really positive way, which makes me excited to see what this band can do once they age a little bit as a group.
I’ve heard some of the HEALTH remixes that Pictureplane has done, they’re dancey and different from the original songs enough to be worth listening to, and they don’t lose the original HEALTH intensity that they carried. That was about all I knew when I walked back into the show room for his set. The one man band of Pictureplane hails from Denver, but his tie dye rainbow aesthetic might imply a different hometown. He set up a table on the floor, where there was a keyboard, computer, a p.a. and some effect pedals. He started his songs and manipulated them through his gear, making what started as a noisy glitch fest into more of a dance-oriented electronic set. He definitely got people grooving; almost everyone was bobbing their head or shuffling awkwardly, then full ahead dancing, ready for HEALTH.
The first/last time I saw HEALTH was at Showbox SODO, with Of Montreal — a good show at a lame venue. The place is absurdly huge and cavernous, not fitting HEALTH as well as a smaller spot like Vera. Also, the crowd that was there for of Montreal wasn’t super into HEALTH. This show at Vera was a lot better; there were a ton of kids, who were all stoked to be there and to get down harrrrdcore. HEALTH started after a little technical difficulty, with two back to back songs from their first album, the second being the notable “Crimewave.” It starts with this crazy tribal drumming that the bass and guitar dive into with feedback and distortion. With all that going on, the guitarist begins to sing in a talking sort of chant that creates an amazing and beautiful contrast. Their set was short, but they got in a ton of songs from the first album as well as a few from the new album. Looking at the stage, it would seem like there was an impossible mess of effects and cords. I have no idea how one band used so many different pedals. The bass sounded like a highly distorted, octave bass being played through a vocoder. They played with passion, but their faces were stoic and calm looking, even when they threw their instruments on the stage floor and began manipulating their pedals. They played the single from the new album, Get Color, called “Die Slow” towards the end. Die Slow is a more electronic jam that still has the noisy intensity that one would expect from HEALTH. Considering how good their first album is, it would seem difficult to come out with a second that was just as good. Get Color is just that album. The perfect sequel to the self titled; the crazy parts are crazier, the drums are more tribal and rhythmic, the dancey parts are even easier to totally lose yourself to. This band is up there in the Dan Deacon realm of bands not to be missed!
10/24 – Dan Deacon at Vera
Ben Funkhouser is a former KEXP programming intern turned regular columnist. He his column, Oh, Messy Life, will focus strictly on the all-ages music in Seattle. He also is the booking assistant at the Vera Project and writes for Public Access Media.