Last week, I had the chance to spend a night at the Fillmore with Naked Giants and Car Seat Headrest. We caught them on Wednesday, the second sold out night of shows with Naked Giants opening and Car Seat Headrest headlining.
We’d never head of Naked Giants prior to this. I am genuinely glad that they’re on our radar now. A collection of 3 goofy guys who wouldn’t look out of place as baristas at your local cafe (coming from a proud ex barista), they had incredible energy, synergy, and presence with their nice sort of melodic, bass heavy garage/surf rock. The happiness they expresses to be on stage comes out in an infectious and even caring way. They went so far as to request that the audience was considerate of some less mosh-inclined members… before inviting them to “rock the fuck out” on the next few songs. It was a pleasure to watch Naked Giants onstage, and we will definitely be catching them wherever possible in the future.
The Car Seat Headrest we experienced at the Fillmore was a polished, gorgeous, well-produced show. Will Toledo, frontman and creative power, has crafted a beautiful indie rock repertoire over the past decade. With his rich, deep voice seeming to drip from his thin frame, he more than fits the look of young, floppy-haired, pensive indie darling. His collection of albums and music under this moniker is unarguably great, and considering Toledo’s youth, impressive in its proficiency.
The biggest takeaway from the experience of seeing Car Seat Headrest in concert was the feeling that their live show sounds vastly more produced and polished than their recorded counterparts. This is particularly interesting considering part of the charm of Car Seat Headrest is the more analog sound, and the name is an homage to Toledo’s DIY method of making and self-releasing his albums. There was a sort of dissonance between the expectation of lo-fi, self made sound and the controlled quality of the performance. To be fair, there was a sizable camera crew filming the show, which may have lent itself to the rigid nature of the set.
Personally, I tend to love gregarious performers, like Jack Antonoff and now Naked Giants. Will Toledo is simply a contained and even-keeled performer, and his band follows suit. Coming off the heels of their charismatic openers, Car Seat Headrest benefited highly from including the balancing presence of the more physical, more raw musicians as half of their backing band. [The most dynamic presence onstage was hands down Naked Giants guitarist Grant Mullen–he’s the long-haired, lanky and exuberant performer you’ll find in the pictures.]
It is incredibly impressive that Toledo has flexed his considerable creative muscles to build his cult following and vast portfolio to the place that it is. The next step I am excited to witness in his journey as an artist is to see him step a bit more into his skin and develop as a performer. The genius that has produced Car Seat Headrest has some beautiful, quirky stories to tell. I’m excited to one day experience that translated from his lyrics to his live sets.