Live Review: Car Seat Headrest - Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver - 18/07/2018


Car Seat Headrest is a band that I’ve increasingly been hearing and reading about for the past few years as they’ve made their name known in the indie-rock scene. Their latest album Twin Shadows, released in February under Matador Records, definitely solidified their place in the scene with Will Toledo’s dynamic sound and lyrics shining. Originally from Virginia, but having relocated to Seattle, the group fits wonderfully in with the lo-fi, indie rock scene that seems to live on the west coast of the USA and Canada. Having last played in Vancouver in 2016 at one of the smallest venues in town, it’s a testament to the traction they’ve gained to have sold out The Commodore.

Every time I go to an indie rock show like this I go in expecting it to be one of the most chill nights, but I really need to stop expecting that, especially with these guys. The entire crowd was so into what the band were giving them musically that I legitimately thought I might die (in the most amazing way), whether it be the floor caving into the shops below from how much it was bouncing, or from one of the crowd surfers landing on me in the photo pit.

There were no fancy sets for this show, just Toledo and the band rocking out with an awesome light show behind them. Unusually for a lead singer though, Toldeo had his mic stand at the back, in front of Andrew Katz on the drums, and would hang out back there for moments while he wasn’t belting to the audience. I’m not sure if this is to showcase the guitarists, Ethan Ives, and Seth Dalby, but it worked for these guys. Ives and Dalby were some of the most entertaining guitarists I’ve seen in a long time, full of energy and talent.

Something odd to me is that the setlist is made up entirely of songs from their two latest albums (Twin Shadows and Teens of Denial), except for their 2017 single War is Coming (If You Want It). Most bands I see usually have setlists that span their entire career, so it’s strange to see one that is almost directly split between two albums. This may be purely down to the fact that the top played songs on their Spotify page are from these two albums, so they’re just doing what they know will work. Which is perfectly reasonable to be quite fair. I would however love to hear a bit of a bigger variety next time they’re in town.

Car Seat Headrest are touring the US until September, and then heading over to the UK in November. If you’re into indie-rock and epic light shows, I definitely recommend seeing them if they’re in your city.

Words and Photography by Kelli Anne Lane