Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest


Car Seat Headrest (let’s do CSH from now on for the sake of my fingers) are what one would call ‘quite prolific’. Starting off as the solo project of Will Toledo (apparently called CSH due to recording the vocals for his first album in the back seat of his car) but now a fully fledged band, they have release 12, yes 12 albums on Bandcamp in the last 5 years or so. Toledo is 24 years old. That’s some work ethic right there. Signing to Matador Records last year, CSH released their debut album proper, the brilliant Teens of Denial earlier this month. I say released, it was put on streaming services but hasn’t seen a full physical release due to them not being able to clear a Cars sample on on song and having to scrap a ridiculous amount of vinyl and CDs that has already been pressed. Bad times. The band are touring Europe in support of Teens, I saw them a couple of weeks ago at Primavera Sound in Barcelona and they were fully brilliant, so I’m pretty stoked for tonight’s full set.

Toledo wears thick rimmed glasses and basically looks a bit like McLovin from Superbad; I haven’t seen a crowd reflect the band they are seeing since I saw Mac DeMarco, there are so many early 20s men wearing similar glasses and flannel shirts, and I realise today I chose to wear my own glasses instead of contacts, maybe it’s a subconscious thing. The crowd are a bit nerdy, I don’t think they’d mind me saying, and as the band shuffle on stage and Toledo picks up his guitar, a guy behind me says to his mate ‘I love a Telecaster’. The band don’t mess around, launching straight into the guitar shredding 15 minute wonder ‘The Ending of Dramamine’ which variously alternate between said shredding and quiet, wordy passages. The vocals could do with being a bit higher in the mix, as much of CSH’s appeal lies in the lyrics of Toledo, but the guitar playing is so impressive on the opener I don’t care too much.

From here they tackle some of the best songs from Teens, including the brilliant ‘Vincent’ and the incredibly titled ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’, whose refrain of ‘it doesn’t have to be like this/Killer Whales’ is shouted back at the band, air being punched around the room, things getting a bit emo (which is obvs a good thing). Emo indie is probably how you’d describe them if pushed, they sing songs about depression (album opener ‘Fill In The Blank’ contains the line ‘you have no right to be depressed / you haven’t tried hard enough to like it’) and girls, and they have an really passionate set of followers who sing every word back at them – I haven’t seen the like since I emo’d my face off at Brand New last year. They play a song that I haven’t heard before (gonna confess: I haven’t listened to all 12 Bandcamp albums) because ‘someone requested it even though we haven’t played to for a while’, and you get the impression they are as close to their fans as the fans are to them.

They play another 15 min epic in ‘The Ballad of the Costa Concordia’ which features a snatch of Dido’s ‘White Flag’ of all things (obviously she was cooler about the sample than the Cars), which makes way for the sweet ‘Stop Smoking’, before a quick encore of ‘Something Soon’ which features some more immense guitar work. As I look around the crowd, I think CSH are like my Bright Eyes to some of the young lads in the room, a band to that feel like yours, when you learn all the lyrics and find meaning in them that you can relate to, and those types of bands are so important. I may be a bit old to properly do this with CSH (I’m an ancient 32 in the in room), but I’m so glad they exist and are making music to obsess over for the kids in glasses.

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