As we were waiting for the show to start, there was a man in the crowd wearing a shirt that said “I am Will Toledo.”
This is a perfect example of the obsessive fans that Car Seat Headrest has amassed. The actual Will Toledo, is a skinny, awkward looking guy in his 20s, from Leesburg, Virginia. Before Toledo and the rest of Car Seat Headrest even take the stage, there are excited fans yelling his name throughout the crowd.
Toledo, after years of releasing his work on Bandcamp, a website for artists to independently release their music, has made a name for himself in the indie-rock scene. After releasing eleven albums independently and two on Matador Records, Toledo has established himself as the rightful heir of the indie-rock craze of the late 90s and early 2000s.
Before Car Seat Headrest took the stage, punk band from Seattle Washington, Naked Giants, performed an energetic and loud rock set, complete with broken guitar strings and plenty of yelling. They played singles from their 2016 EP R.I.P.
As he and his bandmates prepared to play, Toledo was visibly irritated. He did not explain why he was annoyed, and I am not sure I want to know. With the strong emotional emphasis in his music, it likely made for a better concert.
The venue, Dada Dallas, is a rock-centric venue located in the heart of Deep Ellum, the concert capital of Dallas. With an inside capacity of 99 people and a small stage, it’s an incredible place to see underground artists in a personal setting.
Car Seat Headrest began their set with their lead single from Teens of Denial, titled“Fill In the Blank.” Accompanied by loud, driving guitars and drums, Toledo sang/yelled “I have no right to be depressed / I haven’t tried hard enough to like it.”
After playing a couple songs they released in 2015, the band played “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” which has been hailed as one of the best songs of the year, making its way to be featured on The Tonight Show in November. On it, Toledo bluntly addresses the dangers of drunk drivers, lamenting that “It doesn’t have to be like this.”
Car Seat Headrest then played “Destroyed by Hippie Powers,” a song which fans jumped and moshed to; a peculiar sight at an indie-rock show.
Will Toledo ended the concert by covering the Frank Ocean song “Ivy,” as his band walked off stage. Toledo gave an incredibly emotional performance, complete with voice cracks and off-key yelps.
Car Seat Headrest’s 2016 album Teens of Denial is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify.