Saturday was 4/20, the celebrated weed holiday. It is enjoyed by a fascinating mess of subcultures from stoners, to punks, to vintage store workers who look like Fleetwood Mac members, to normies who shop at J. Crew. It’s largely unavoidable at this point in time and space. I spent the majority of my Weed Day sitting on the porch reading a book and puffing on a bowl to kill time before heading to Bottom Lounge. When it comes to holidays, for better or worse, you must honor them.
From the jump L.A.’s Youth Code brought a heavy and immediate energy to the room. Youth Code exist in an interesting space musically; sonically they come off as an industrial band but structurally and lyrically they are riffing on hardcore punk. The last time I saw Youth Code was in Austin during SXSW in 2017 at a BDSM club and I was pretty stunned by how much tighter the duo were this time around. Vocalist Sara Taylor’s stage presence felt so much more massive and commanding. Her attitude is incredible too, it’s so blatantly “give no fucks just destroy” that you can’t help but smiled and hope she gets more aggressive as the set moves from song to song.
Musically, the group is tight, with Ryan George behind the electronics he’s got a complete handle on each song’s composition and transitioning from song to song without boring the audience or giving them a break to catch their breath. Instead of writing more praise that will come off as redundant, I will recommend you dive into the following Youth Code tracks as an introduction to the band:
- “Let the Sky Burn” from Youth Code 2013 Release
- “Sick Skinned” from Youth Code 2013 Release
- “For I Am Cursed” from A Place to Stand
- “Commitment” to Complications from Commitment to Complications
- “Anagnorisis” from Commitment to Complications
Available on all streaming sites. Go have fun and then dive into the Wax Trax! catalogue for even more industrial genre context.
Shortly after Youth Code finished fellow L.A. band HEALTH took to the stage hidden in the darkness in the room. HEALTH have always been a band that’s been in the periphery of my music taste predominantly because they traverse so much musical territory in an unrelenting manner. Beginning as something of a witch house group (probably not a chosen genre, but lumped in nonetheless) and the evolving into a massive sounding noise band that has done a couple of video gamer soundtracks it is fair to say the group exist pretty fearlessly in whatever genre space they do elect to inhabit.
History aside, because let’s face it, music and band history is constantly litigated and re-litigated for one reason or another, HEALTH are an experience live. Watching them through the blast of red, white, and blue lights is a visceral sensory journey. The drums are psychotic in the best way, while the guitars sound like they’re coming from some cybernetic hell realm and stripping the skin from your face. The tenderness of singer Jake Duzsik’s voice is so beautifully woven into this chaos that focusing what he’s saying is such a rewarding facet of the performance. He strings together the details of endless parties, drug usage, loneliness, and the total loss of all serotonin in your brain. HEALTH is such an engaging live experience that I must recommend you check out, especially if its a smaller capacity venue, if only for the amount of sensory stimulation you will receive throughout their set. This tour is especially engaging on a musical front, but maybe even more so with regards to the effect of music on the senses.