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"(Joe Gets Kicked out of School for Using) Drugs with Friends (But Says This Isn't a Problem)"
by Car Seat Headrest
For a band that started as a teenager’s bedroom Bandcamp project, Car Seat Headrest have evolved quite well.

I know they have started to hit the festivals and Big Indie has gave them Big Ups for embracing the arena shows in ways bands like Pavement never did, but I can now say the hype is true.

They’re correct. I saw them live this week. Augmented by openers Naked Giants (who are fantastic if you like music born of 70s fm, thrash, 90s fuzz and post Y2K style garage/psych), Car Seat Headrest become a 7 piece who control the stage.

Like the albums, it’s a mix of styles (but not in a goofy or patchwork way). They come on with bright lights/sounds like a new wave band, yet they still act like any minute, they might break into a Meat Puppets tune. (Indeed, they touch on “Powderfinger”, Naked Giants play a heavy, heavy “Let’s Dance” cover in their set. Plus, did I mention the Naked Giants drummers DRI shirt).

Will Toledo is not the typical front man but he’s fantastic. Far away from Joey Ramone as you can get, the hair and shyness of both could be one and the same. The long hair and geekiness (mixed with extreme confidence) brings to mind unlikely front men like Jarvis Cocker and Michael Stipe.

When I think of bedroom Lo-fi, I think of shrinking violets like Stephin Meritt, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and maybe Daniel Johnston. But CSH was always born from Pixies/Nirvana/GBV noise. Touring regularly for two years with a band like Naked Giants, playing the festivals, they have fulfilled their promise.

All of the “heir to Pollard and Malkmus” stuff feels earned and one could picture this band on any 90s outdoor festival stage either in America or Britain. That no radio station in 2019 would ever touch this stuff, but the place was packed only illustrates how music works today. Interestingly, I left the show thinking what I thought when I first heard the band (“Something soon” in 2015. Toledo would famously tweet later that year “If I sound like The Strokes, then The Strokes don’t sound like The Strokes”)- they do evoke The Strokes- the great indie rock hope. Born of CBGBs carried through college radio stations, zines and blogs to modern day. They bring the rock!
2016 - Matador
Posted: 7th July 2019
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