Car Seat Headrest - The Academy, Dublin - March 2017

Review – Car Seat Headrest – The Academy, Dublin

The American four piece finish off their Teens of Denial tour with an intimate performance in The Academy Dublin.

In a time where indie rock music is waning, suffering from the disease known as “it all sounds the same”, bands like Car Seat Headrest have delivered solace. They have provided intelligent, ambitious albums that perpetuate the heartbeat of the genre into those growing up and deciding to make music as well as those who have seen (or so they think) the glory days pass by. It is of vital importance therefore that the music translates well into a live setting, that the same levels of despair and insight are conveyed as they are on record, otherwise, they’re just another indie band with distorted sound and glum facial expressions.

Kicking off the evening are support band TRAAMS, an English trio whose music revolves around dramatic interludes of thrashing guitars, chasing drums and pounding bass. The crowd warms to them immediately, headbanging along to the tracks with a meatier beat; but some of the interludes wear themselves thin, turning the band into something more atmospheric than a shining attraction. Despite this, the group performed admirably and adequately entertained the crowd as well as prepare them for the spectacle that was to come.

Car Seat Headrest make their appearance on stage, rustling up the crowd with some final tuning. First song of the night ‘Fill In The Blank’ draws a large cheer from the packed venue, with the hook “you have no right to be depressed/you haven’t tried hard enough to like it” dripping from every mouth in sight. This is just one of the instances wherein frontman Will Toledo’s intuitive and ambitious projections from their latest release Teens of Denial is heard, with more to follow in their next track ‘Vincent’, an introspective look at the paranoia that follows from taking drugs.

The material comes thick and fast, with ‘1937 State Park’ and ‘Sober to death’ passing by almost instantly. The band show great chemistry, which is particularly evident during the epic ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’. After snapping a string on his guitar in a previous song, Will plays on a replacement provided by TRAAMS, which seems to have put the show back on the rails. Meandering through the first half of the track with due melancholy, the explosive course begins to take place, shortly after which Will snaps the same string on his guitar. He addresses the crowd as if speaking with a friend he has just spilled a drink on, apologising for the inconvenience before a member from TRAAMS steps in with his original guitar, string fixed. Somehow, they managed to cram even more catharsis into the already emotionally steeped track, tugging and tearing at the boundaries of what is comfortable to consider in a public space surrounded by strangers, and easily highlighting it as the best song of the night.

Soon after the band disappear for a moment, only for the inevitable encore to begin. It starts off with ‘Sloppy‘, a DEVO cover performed with the best intent, but there’s only one thing the crowd want at this point. The thundering strums of ‘Destroyed by Hippie Powers’ power through the venue as everyone in the vicinity leaps to their feet (and higher if they were already on them). Leaving this song to last was a clever move by the group, because not only did it leave a lasting impression on the audience, but it served as a send off to the Teens of Denial tour for the group themselves. It served as an indulgent means of closure to an era that they may have evolved past when it comes to create music again, because as all people do, they will grow and change, and from what I witnessed last night, I hope I grow alongside them.