Live at the Gothic Theatre and nearly ready to take over the world.
BY TIM HINELY
I had missed Car Seat Headrest the two previous times they came to town—at least the times I was aware of—and did not want to miss him this time. Assured myself I’d be there and I made it; an Uber driver refused me so I threatened my 86 year old neighbor into driving me down.
Opener Naked Giants are a trio from Seattle who are a lot of fun and also act as part of Car Seat Headrest’s (aka Will Toledo) backing band. These guys had a ton of energy and could play the hell out of their instruments; as one point my pal turned to me and said that their last song “sounded like it combined three different Pixies songs.” The guitarist/vocalist looks like he could’ve been a member of the Surf Punks, while the drummer was completely dialed in, and the bassist/vocalist was the chatty one, welcoming the crowd, calling a few knuckleheads out, and generally having a good time and making sure we were fully entertained. We were. They played a handful of songs off their latest LP, Sluff (New West Records), including the title track and “TV” among others. Catch ‘em next time they’re in town.
Will Toledo and company hit the stage at 10:15 PM and there were seven folks on stage, Count ‘em, 7. In addition to the three Naked Giants, he had another guitar player, a keyboardist, and a second drummer; Toledo just handled vocals. With all of the positive press these past few years, Toledo’s confidence has likely grown by leaps and bounds from when he first appeared on the scene. On stage, from his moves, he comes across as part Nick Cave and part long-distance runner
They played a good mix of tunes off their records, including concert opener “Cosmic Hero” right into “Cute Thing” right into “War is Coming (if you want it).” A little later in the set the tossed out a medley of “Sober to Death”/”Powderfinger”/”Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing” (I heard the “Powderfinger” part and went a little nuts… love that Neil Young song).
They ended the set with the jittery, soaring “Nervous Young-Inhumans’” and then came out for one encore, playing the over-10-minutes-long, epic “Beach Life-in-Death” (off 2011’s Twin Fantasy) and called it a night.
The crowd loves this band. The fan base is dedicated, and with good reason: The songs are strong, and Toledo is basically one of them. I like ‘em a lot more than I thought I would, and really my only beef at all was the semi-obnoxious strobe light show. Retrain the lighting guy, hire Toledo a personal trainer to stretch (pretty soon he’ll have the Bob Pollard high kicks down pat), and this band will be ready to take over the world.