It’s hard to accurately review Car Seat Headrest’s show at Melbourne’s The Curtin, without handing over most of the praise to front man Will Toledo. That’s not to take away from the efforts of the band as a whole; all four members had a hand in delivering a poignant, emotional show. Yet there was something significant about Toledo’s performance that demanded unwavering attention from the venue’s entire sold-out audience. The band originated from songs recorded on a laptop in the backseat of Toledo’s car (hence the name), so it’s almost fitting that he stole the show. This project is his baby, which was evident with the deep emotion that sprung from his vocals throughout their set.
Considering the type of songs Car Seat Headrest produce, typically relating to stories of depression, despondency and small-town boredom that most can find a connection with- it wasn’t that surprising that the crowd varied greatly in age and demographic. It was a very dissimilar crowd to that of your typical Laneway Festival attendees. Being part of a crowd that ranged from 18 year olds to near 60, and knowing that we were all there for the same reason was heartwarming, to say the least. From the moment the band took the stage, with Toledo muttering a very soft “we’re Car Seat Headrest” before launching into Vincent, the audience as a whole was visibly enthralled.
The entire set was delivered with such an air of confidence you’d be forgiven for forgetting that the band has only really shot to fame over the past year. They play like seasoned artists, unperturbed by the fact that this is the first of two sold out shows on the other side of the world from their home. The setlist largely drew from their most recent effort, Teens of Denial. Fan favourites like Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales obviously drew the largest and most frenzied reaction, but it’s hard to pick out any huge stand out moments. There were no lulls in standard during this performance. Their more moodier outputs were met with as much attention by the audience as their fun songs, with each member of the band putting in the hard work necessary to make this show an absolute hit among punters.
The set was meant to last for just an hour, but the reaction from the audience was so large that the band was able to make their way back on stage for a double encore. If it wasn’t clear enough by surveying other punters faces throughout the bulk of the set, this was an emotional night for many. I spotted several people wiping away tears from their eyes.
Car Seat Headrest’s rise has been nothing short of meteoric, and it’s really easy to see why. Their ability to manipulate an entire room of people into becoming the most attentive audience I’ve ever seen is incredible, and indicative of their great talents. If they’re not on your radar yet, they definitely should be as they’re certainly not going away any time soon.