Decisions, decisions. Car Seat Headrest were playing the Corona Theatre on the same night that Interpol were in town this past Wednesday and I was in a bind. I hadn’t seen either act before. I decided to go with the much hyped, up and coming Car Seat Headrest over the seasoned vets of the indie scene and I think I made the right decision. I guess I can’t know that for sure but I’m just trying to make myself feel better. Interpol will be back in Montreal, I’m sure!
The night opened with Naked Giants (Seattle, WA) playing for the first time in Montreal. The trio seemed wholeheartedly stoked and brought some serious fucking energy for an opening slot. Touring off their recently released debut full length SLUFF, Naked Giants took the idea of noisy fuzzed out garage rock to the next level live. I’m telling you, if you think the album is a noisy affair and you’re into it, you have to see these dudes live! Songs like “TV” and “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows)” set the tone early and that tone was “we’re gonna make your ears bleed!” A great way to describe it is like a noisier version of the Kinks. Late 60s/early 70s garage rock with a stronger emphasis on psychedelic freak outs rather than poppy melodies. Singer/guitarist Grant Mullen joked that “you’re all crazy” speaking to the moshers and crowd surfers in between songs, and he wasn’t off base. The crowd was blitzed up from the start and the energy was infectious. Naked Giants wound down the set with “Twist” and “Green Fuzz,” more old time rnr’ with some absolutely insane guitar freak outs and a nice, concise solo from drummer Henry LaVallee (I’m not the biggest advocate of drum solos, but the high energy was undeniable).
It was time to see if all the hype was merited! Car Seat Headrest over took the stage, seven members, and the energy level continued on a feverish high! Front man Will Toledo, who does most of his talking through his beautifully crafted lyrics, was beaming and charged. The early highlight was “Fill In The Blank,” the lead track off of 2016’s Teens of Denial; a combination of swirling soundscapes honed in by the large band and a simple and brutal punk rock energy at its core. Toledo somehow conveys his songs of teenage angst and young love with the demeanour of a man wise beyond his years. Car Seat Headrest’s choice of covers indicate a band that although young, have an expansive musical knowledge and respect, Lou Reed’s “Waves of Fear” and “Powderfinger” by Neil Young. Surprisingly, though the band is touring off of their latest album Twin Fantasy, it wasn’t a focal point of their live set. Not that this is a bad thing by any stretch as the older material is equally as solid, I was just a little bit shocked. What we did get off of the new record were stunning versions of “Bodys,” “Cute Thing” and “Sober to Death,” interspersed nicely with the older stuff and covers. It just reaffirms that although the band is young, they operate with a level of confidence that some bands of twenty plus years don’t even have!
I’ll leave you with the image of Car Seat Headrest’s percussionist absolutely wailing on a cowbell as the band ripped through “Destroyed By Hippie Powers,” as he simultaneously brought members of the crowd on stage to dance and partake in the percussive madness. I love those moments when the veil between band and crowd is physically lifted and we all become part of the beautiful machinations of the rock and roll show.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy