Car Seat Headrest Returns to Live Concerts with a Bang


Avery Chien, Staff Writer

Girls in fishnets and heavy eye-makeup, weed-smoking guys with long hair and Carhartt jackets, and a handful of people in animal paraphernalia made up the teens and young adults in attendance at the Seattle Car Seat Headrest concert on Friday, April 22. This indie rock band, often abbreviated to CSH, made a widely awaited but temporary return to their 2022 Masquerade Tour at Seattle’s very own Paramount Theater. Originally planned for 2020, the tour was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, and then further postponed after lead singer Will Toledo himself got COVID-19. Seattle was CSH’s first concert since his recovery. Despite his previous illness, Toledo brought one of the best live performances to date and gave Seattle fans an eccentric and wholly entertaining concert experience.  

The concert opened with Bartees Strange, a smaller indie performer who set the energy high for the night. When Toledo finally stepped on to stage, we were greeted with a gas mask with LED eyes flashing in various colors concealing his face. Smoke filled the theater and neon lights pulsed to the beat of the first song, “Crows,” and fans went wild with elation. Besides Toledo, the band is composed of Ethan Ives on lead guitar, Seth Dalby on bass guitar, and Andrew Katz on drums and keyboard. Throughout the night, Toledo also showcased his dancing to an amused audience, with moves that can only be described as unapologetically bold and awkward as he took large exaggerated steps and waved his limbs in the air. 

“This will be the first time we perform this song live,” said Toledo, as the intro to my favorite CSH song, “It’s Only Sex,” started playing and fans screamed. CSH went on to play a handful of songs from my favorite album, “Twin Fantasy,” including “Bodys,” “Sober to Death,” and “Beach Life-In-Death.” They also performed their most popular and well-known song, “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” to the excitement of the audience who was chanting along. I was incredibly surprised and impressed at the quality of Toledo’s voice; it sounded exactly as it did in the recorded songs, which cemented Car Seat Headrest as one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen. 

Halfway through the performance, the band transitioned into slower, stripped songs, and Katz stepped away from his drums and began to paint on a canvas set up on stage. The audience members in the balconies sat down in their seats to absorb the slower notes mixing with Toledo’s gravelly, resonant voice and Katz’s brush strokes. After a few songs, Katz presented a finished abstract painting to the audience, and the band transitioned to their usual rock-style music. I found this aspect of the show to be especially unique and unexpected for a music concert. It served as an effective break in the middle of the show allowing the band to play more mellow songs while simultaneously showcasing the musicians’ further artistic prowess beyond instrumentals.  

After a total of 13 songs, CSH said thank you to their Seattle audience and left the stage. Despite nearly 10 minutes of fans chanting for an encore, CSH did not oblige and the concert was officially over to the audience’s dismay. A day later, Toledo announced on Instagram that he got a stomach bug and would not be able to perform at the next shows scheduled in the tour, further postponing already two years late performances. Nonetheless, Seattle fans were grateful they could catch Car Seat Headrest live for the first time in years, and I was incredibly happy to kick off my return to live-concert-going with such a phenomenal performance.