Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Levitating With Car Seat Headrest


Although Teens Of Denial, Car Seat Headrest's triumphant 2016 album, is laced with keyboards and the surprising blast of a horn section, leader Will Toledo definitely subscribes to Lou Reed's dictum: "You can't beat two guitars, bass, and drums." And, except for occasional hypnotic loops, that's what he delivered in stunning style to a packed house at Webster Hall last Friday night (and into Saturday morning - it was part of the Governor's Ball After Dark series). 

For a bit of verité reaction, here's the hyped review I dashed off on Bandsintown after the show:

"Fantastic show! The band's connection to the audience was something to behold. Webster Hall practically levitated with the energy. Will Toledo is a true master of song, singing, guitar, and the stage - and his band was more than up to the task of supporting him. Practically every song was a highlight but Unforgiving Girl and Fill In The Blank were extra special. Also notable was the epic ballad-like approach to Bowie's Teenage Wildlife. I would see them again in a heartbeat!"

I also posted this video, just a hint of the energy in the room, which had the ballroom's sprung floor bouncing:



One thing Father Lou did not mention in his recipe for success was lyrics, which were obviously a huge aspect of his art. So it was for Buddy Holly, the original avatar of "two guitars, bass, and drums," and so it is for Toledo. He's brilliant at turning self-doubt and bad behavior into empathetic anthems ("Drugs are better, drugs are better with friends are better, friends are better, friends are better with drugs are better..." or "We are not a proud race, it's not a race at all, We're just trying, I'm only trying to get home: Drunk Drivers!" or "I didn't want you to hear that shake in my voice/my pain is my own.") and the audience knew every word. The last time I heard this much audience participation was at the Kanye West show and in both cases it was an amazing thing to experience. This is one reason we go to concerts in the first place, for the thrill of being among the subset of "our people" that includes fans of the act on stage.

Nap Eyes, the opening band, commanded only a sub-subset of the people in the room, the chatter sometimes threatening to drown out the more delicate moments. But their quietly determined indie - somewhere between Mutual Benefit and Velvet Underground 3rd - won them some new fans, who crowded around them at the merch table after the show. While it wasn't the ideal setting, I was glad for the chance to see them, having really enjoyed their last album Thought Rock Fish Scale, which includes the modern classic, Stargazer

I've been trying to get to a CSH show for about two years, ever since Toledo poked his head above the Bandcamp morass, but they always sold out in minutes. Now I know why - and thank goodness for the credit card pre-sale! I won't belabor the point further: See this band

You may also enjoy:
Record Roundup: Rock On (And On)
Record Roundup: Guitars, Guitars, Etc.
The Best Of 2016 (So Far) - Pt. 1
Best Of 2016: The Top 20