Car Seat Headrest
featuring Naked Giants
September 13, 2018 @ The Royale
Dressed all in black, both the cool September evening and the audience came prepared for the tender angst that awaited us. The Royale, from stage to bar, was packed with older twenty-somethings, comfortably standing and chatting with those around them. It was a noticeably relaxed scene that even prompted some to question how rowdy the concert would become.
Naked Giants, a Chicago based trio, opened the show with a flash of color and youthful excitement as they shredded, banged and jammed through one of the most energetic sets I’ve seen thus far. It was as though the audience had been transported to a pimped-out garage after school, watching our friends experiment, create, and simply have fun from a recycled couch off to the side. From behind-the-head guitar riffs to an incredibly impressive (lengthy) improvised drum solo, Naked Giants brought a rare sincerity to the stage. Furthermore, their exhilarating charisma and colorful performance acted as a point of contrast for the coming headline.
Graduating from naive exuberance into contemplative young adulthood, Car Seat Headrest guided the audience into the darker side of growing up. Adorned in blacks and blues with lyrics to match, Will Toledo wooed the crowd with his introspective realism. Opening their set with a Lou Reed cover and ‘The Ending of Dramamine’, the intensity of the audience shifted from pleasant listening into riotous regard. Screaming every lyric at the top of their lungs, the crowd came together with wild, violent, visceral admiration. Coming to terms with depressive tendencies in ‘Fill In The Blank’ and experimental teen drug use in ‘(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)’ from Teens of Denial, the audience danced with the honesty that Car Seat Headrest was handing us. It’s an intriguing experience to sing about loneliness when it’s the very thing bringing people together.
Towards the end of the set, a piece of paper that read “Please play ‘Beach Life-In-Death’” appeared and was handed through the crowd and into Will Toledo’s hands to which he responded with a slight nod that sent the crowd into a simultaneous roar. Off of their new album Twin Fantasy, the thirteen-minute song touches upon the difficulties of self-acceptance, specifically in regard to sexuality, and acts as a therapeutic release both in the experience of performing and listening to it. Teen angst and nostalgia penetrated the venue, taking us all on a journey back to a fragile time that we have all experienced, from carefree self-expression to moments more difficult to swallow.
In the confines of an hour or two, Car Seat Headrest allowed the audience to experience, again, what it means to grow older, to grow conscious, but this time we didn’t have to do it alone… and oh, how great it feels to not have to.