Car Seat Headrest looks like four dudes who know each other because they created a moderately successful iPhone app together while still in college accidentally wandered onto a stage and picked up instruments. But that’s not the case! Each of them are actually extremely talented young musicians, particularly the drummer (whose name I do not know because it is nowhere to be found on the Internet). This dude sang backup vocals, played an electric drum pad, and at one point, switched with Will and took his guitar, doing his backup vocals from Will’s mic as the frontman sang from behind the drums.
I stood behind an adorable young couple on what was clearly their first date, which was the perfect lens with which to watch a band that really captures what its like to simultaneously be young, particularly sentient and constantly in the process of crafting an identity. What I really love about this band is that the lyrical content is at odds with the delivery which is at odds with the music– there’s a layer of distortion over Will’s voice that comes across as a sort of vocal antidepressant, so even when he’s screaming at the top of his lungs its forcibly leveled out. And yet, he screams anyway– “I want to sing this song like I’m dying.” It’s complex and simple at once– he references Raymond Carver and salvation and civil rights while complaining about his parents in the next verse. And then there’s the music itself, which is always somewhere between head-banging and head-bopping (sometimes almost too much of each in some of the longer songs).
Will Toledo isn’t a showman–he barely opens his mouth when he sings and all signs point to him being an incompetent dancer– but he doesn’t have to be a showman. He’s a musician. And he’s doing something new and real and evocative under the half-guise that he’s trying very hard not to.