If you’re unfamiliar with Car Seat Headrest, you’d best get cracking: not only are there an obscene number of Bandcamp-released albums to catch up on, but ‘Teens of Denial’, Will Toledo’s first ‘proper’ LP for Matador, looks set to propel the Seattle-based singer-songwriter into the big time. We headed over to their bright-and-early Saturday morning set on the Park stage to see what all the fuss was about…
He’s being touted as the ‘new Beck’
That’s the rather daunting comparison he’s been lumbered with, though it’s largely based on how startlingly prolific he is – the 24 years old’s discography is already well into double-figures. The ‘new Rivers Cuomo’ might be a more accurate one, however: CSH’s music stakes out the same milieu of white male loserdom as Weezer, Pavement and Jonathan Richman, while Toledo himself is an endearingly awkward focal point, lurching clumsily around the stage and indulging in banal observations like, “I’m glad it’s nice out right now. It’s nice to play nice shows in nice weather.” It’s not that he’s uncharismatic, so much as anti-charismatic: he looks and acts like somebody’s little brother bum-rushed the stage, and you can’t help but egg him on.
He’s One of Indie-Rock’s Sharpest Lyricists (When You Can Actually Hear the Lyrics)
Car Seat Headrest’s songs tend to be about well-worn themes of depression, anxiety and drunkenness, but Toledo writes about them in a caustic, idiosyncratic voice that’s very much his own: “I’ve got a right to be depressed/ I’ve given up all I had to fight it” goes the chorus of opening song ‘Fill In The Blank’, while ‘Unforgiving Girl (She’s Not An)’ finds him fretting that, “This isn’t sex, I don’t think, it’s just extreme empathy.” There’s nothing timid or knock-kneed about the music itself, however, which is played at blistering volume – certain moments, such as ’Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’, even manage to approach Pixies-esque levels of loud-quiet-loud cacophony.
Read more: Meet Car Seat Headrest, The Seattle Bedroom Prodigy With 11 Albums To His Name
‘Destroyed By Hippie Powers’ Is The Most Appropriate Song of the Entire Weekend
11am at the Park stage on Saturday morning isn’t exactly what you’d call prime Glasto real-estate, but Toledo makes the trek up here worth it by playing ‘Destroyed By Hippie Powers’, a song that perfectly sums up how everyone starts to feel after two days on the farm: “Tell my mother I’m going home, I have been destroyed by hippie powers.” Amen to that.