Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Car Seat Headrest - NE HI -- DC9 - Dec 7 2015

by John Miller

NE HI - It's rambunctious for a Monday night. NE HI, on tour supporting their relatively new album Drag, made the long trek from Chicago. Any audience like this makes the journey worth it, makes it feel like something’s being done right. They dance to the upbeat college rock, always responding at the appropriate moments. There is definitely some early Elvis Costello influence as well and that's something worth noting. That particular influence doesn't appear as often as one might expect considering how highly regarded he is. Vocally, the lead, has a striking resemblance to Costello; the way he phrases and stresses particular words within the songs. Musically there are aspects of Steve Shelley as well: The slower drums, not doing anymore than asked for, perfect for the style. The comparisons to Sonic Youth end there though. The guitars are certainly more traditional; chorus, bright, playing off one another, allowing both the lead and rhythm to do their appropriate jobs. The same can be said for the bass; he does his job and does it well. It's nothing revelatory but it doesn't need to be for it to be good.
Car Seat Headrest - This is a homecoming of sorts for Car Seat Headrest. Hailing from Leesburg, this is their first DC show for the Seattle based band. And by the time NE HI wraps up their set, folks are still making their way up the stairs. And by the time the show begins, it’s sold out. This disaffected draw, the quiet verses, eventually explodes into a vision of future doom. But as Car Seat Headrest continues, that initial prophecy is turned on its head, another failed prediction of the end of the world. What follows is a Quick pop punk interlude, then yet another change of pace; college rock. It's all over the place but not in a bad way. For those that are wholly unfamiliar with them, it's like Cliff's Notes and it's a great introduction. Frankly, more bands should follow the practice. It's quiet in between songs, the crowd is anticipating, eager to hang on every word. Car Seat Headrest are reminiscent of Titus Andronicus; long, earnest anthems that are easy to sing a long too. Lyrics that are relatable but not trite, straddling that line between DIY and full on radio rock. It will be interesting to see where all of this takes Will Toledo (the lead of Car Seat Headrest) as this type of music can only get better with time.

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