LIVE REVIEW: Car Seat Headrest

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Car Seat Headrest + Jarrow @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney 26.01.17

There was a real ‘will they or won’t they?’ atmosphere rippling through the arriving throng of punters as Jarrow took the stage. The nervousness was due to Car Seat Headrest main guy Will Toledo posting on Facebook earlier in the day that he was was here and ready to play but the band were still winging their way to Australia from Hawaii (courtesy of flight delays) and only scheduled to arrive an hour before they were due on-stage.

As people made bets on the band vs solo probability, Melbourne’s Jarrow did an excellent job in their opening slot. There were shades of The Smiths and Mac DeMarco in their music with clever twists and turns, a malleable rhythm section and Dan Oke’s quirky, heart-on-sleeve lyrics. Playing songs from their 2016 album 2003 Dream they displayed a balance of humour, musicianship, loose-limbed abandon and intellectual adventurism. Clever guitar pop for both the mind and feet.

Not long after Jarrow departed the stage, four figures emerged from the shadows and began furtively setting up their equipment and tuning guitars. The band had made it and just in time. Presumably wired and slightly disorientated they quickly conducted a make-shift soundcheck before launching into their set proper with Vincent, one of the many standout tracks from last year’s breakout album Teens Of Denial. It quickly became apparent how much of a complete band they are, rather than just Toledo and some other guys. Vocals were shared – guitarist Ethan Ives even got a lead vocal in the closing Pixies cover of Motorway To Roswell. The rhythm section were superb at building the tension and collapsing it on a dime when required. The audience in the sold-out and packed to the gunnels OAF were in fine voice, nearly drowning out the band during Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales, exhorting the band on through the jet lag as they laid down their refreshing blend of Okkervil River/Strokes/Pixies influenced indie rock. It felt like a celebratory, if a little short, set. The icing on the cake and reward for the devoted fans of Toledo and his literate and confessional songs.

Chris Familton

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