Car Seat Headrest aka Will Toledo has been putting out a lot of music the past 5 years, and prolific would be an understatement. Since 2010, he’s put out more than 10 releases, including a double album, Nervous Young Man, in 2013, and followed it up with a 62 minute EP, How To Leave Town, the very next year. His influences are everywhere, as they range from the drone gods, Swans, to the frenetic Modest Mouse, with the lo-fi aesthetics of Guided By Voices, but I’m pretty sure I’m missing a few influences off the list.
After graduating college, and making the big move from Williamsburg, Virginia to Seattle, 2015 is looking to be the start of many good things for CSH. While I’m not sure if this is his first NYC, I do know it’s his first sizable tour (10 dates in total), which kicked off in his home state of Virginia, swimming up the north to NY and ends back in VA.
CSH was headlining an early Thursday night show at the Mercury Lounge with another show at Baby’s All Right as openers for Natural Child the next night. NYC locals, Kleenex Girl Wonder, were the openers with a solid set which was filled with hilarious banter from lead singer Graham Smith, who always reminded me of Stephen Malkmus. The Malkmus/Pavementcomparison bled through with the band’s zany, slacker rock bite with humorous lyrics that are layered with pop culture references. Smith and company plowed through a set filled with songs from their most recent effort, Let It Buffer, as well as new unreleased songs.
Albeit there was still light outside,the Mercury Lounge was packed for an early show. A little bit before 8PM Will Toledo and his backing band were preparing to take the stage. It was interesting to see how the intimate bedroom recordings of CSH would translate live with just a bassist and a drummer. Much of his recordings featured a heavy dose of synths and post recording effects, and it was apparent that he was limited at which songs were able to be played with the skeleton live band and a single effect pedal. It didn’t bother his set at all as he played a lot of fan favorites. They tore through Twin Fantasy noisy stands outs like “Bodys” and “Cute Thing”, the mild lo-fi gut wrencher “Broken Birds (Rest In Peace) where Toledo goes off on the chorus and screams “I want my girls to save me!”. At one point the band did a quick (and faithful) 2 minute rendition of The Cars “Just What I Needed” as a coda for one of his songs. Being the prolific songwriter he is, Toledo debuted a few new songs he was working on. Notably, there were a lot of big CSH fans in the room, as many cheered when they recognized the opening riffs of their CSH songs.