Naked Giants and Car Seat Headrest: A terrific romp of indie rock fun

On June 18, the local bands Naked Giants and Car Seat Headrest played at Seattle venue Chop Suey.

The Naked Giants started off the show with an energetic garage rock set. They have been playing shows up and down the Seattle area recently, fueled by their earning of second place at “Sound Off!”, a local 21 and under battle of the bands that sends the winners to Bumbershoot.

The Giants have an energy to their tunes that makes one want to dance like no one’s watching. Frontman Grant Mullen edged the crowd into motion himself, asking, “Do you guys know the twist?”
All their tunes were incredibly happy and fun, with their vibe kept in check by BC student Henry Lavee’s masterful playing on the drums. But it was Mullen’s vocals that really defined their sound.  His casual but energetic tones at times reminded me of the Strokes lead singer.

Rounded out by Gianni Aello on bass, they have a great sound for any band, especially for one where all the members are just out of high school. In fact, several fans in the audience still wore their high school lettermen’s jackets with pride.

One of their songs, “Searching for You,” had a catchy tune and a beach vibe that sounded just like summer. Despite being young, the Naked Giants seem set to jump-start a terrific musical career.
Car Seat Headrest came on next for a mellower second half of the show.

Led by a thin Vans-wearing frontman, CSH’s songs relied on storied lyrics telling the tales of long car rides, plane crashes and jerks. They had a unique sound, which could be described as a mix of indie rock and techno. As an example, the first song in their set seemed like a fairly standard rock tune at first, starting with an intro on guitar and vocals, but after the first few minutes, a rhythmic techno beat emerged under Frontman Will Toledo’s soft-spoken tones.

They had a very different energy than the first band. Unfortunately, while unusual, it just didn’t seem to be at its full potential that night. According to the band’s site, all of the songs performed were written by front man Will Toledo. As I read further, I discovered that Toledo has been a one-man band for quite a long time with solo releases dating all the way back to 2010.

It seems the band at Chop Suey was put together for live shows only. While the lyrics were compelling, I must admit I did feel uninspired by the band’s performance. However, after giving a good listen to Toledo’s work online, I definitely can’t dismiss this artist. His freeform lyricism reminds me of a young Lou Reed, but somehow the appeal of Toledo’s lyrics — that dive into the struggles of youth, love and depression — just did not seem to translate well to the stage.

Despite a less than perfect performance by Car Seat Headrest, both bands came together to give a satisfying show. I am looking forward to seeing these young Seattle bands make their unique mark on the local music scene. Their music can be found on