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Coachella 2011: The surreal philosophy of L.A. band Health

April 17, 2011 | 10:02 pm

John Famiglietti, the bassist for the L.A.-based experimental noise rock outfit Health, who played the Mojave tent on Sunday evening, is the band's spirit animal. A shimmering, shaking hallucination in a boldly patterned shirt, guiding the live set to its shattering denouement.

His silken mane of black hair a study in motion, he lithely glides and shakes across the stage like a human-faced leopard on an acid trip. He is impervious to heat and sweat while the band's lead singer, Jake Duzsik regularly towels off his dripping face and hair.

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This is not accessible music, and toward the beginning of the band's set there is an exodus of front-row crowd members who are quickly replaced by a wash of the band's devoted fan base. Health traffics in dissonance and extremes. And Duzsik's lilting melodies float over the chaos of the driving, beat-heavy rhythms like Julie Cruise in a Lynchian dream.

Likewise, for the band's fans -- acolytes of the Internet, all -- Health's hyper-sexual, graphically violent video fantasies occupy the shadows on either side of the stage, like phantasms of a primitive digital realm. It's hard to separate the music from the pipe dream of its effect. The two, fuelled by Duzsik's hardened longing and Famiglietti's flights of hyper-real fantasy, reverberate in an echo chamber of studied belligerence. And that's just where fans of Health like it.

-- Jessica Gelt