Life in KC

The Big Show: Car Seat Headrest @ the Bottleneck

Will Toledo is the singer/songwriter behind Car Seat Headrest.
Will Toledo is the singer/songwriter behind Car Seat Headrest.

Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Bottleneck

Will Toledo is the troubled prince of indie rock. While he’s responsible for one of the most heralded albums of 2016, the crown rests uneasily on Toledo’s anguished head.

Operating under the banner of Car Seat Headrest, Toledo began compulsively issuing albums when he was 17 and living in Leesburg, Va. Now 24, Toledo hit his stride with his 13th album, “Teens of Denial.” Released in May, the recording has been rapturously received. The album echoes iconic touchstones by the Velvet Underground, Guided By Voices and Pavement — references that quicken the pulses of rock critics and obsessive indie rock fans.

Yet it’s Toledo’s tortured lyrics that separate him from less audaciously talented musicians. “Teens of Denial” is loaded with the sort of lawless, word-drunk poetry that inspired the selection committee for the Nobel Prize in literature to select Bob Dylan as its 2016 honoree.

Toledo becomes entangled in a word loop on “(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School For Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem),” repeating the phrases “drugs are better, drugs are better with friends are better, friends are better with drugs are better …”

“Teens of Denial” contains many similar conundrums. Toledo muses that “I was given a mind that can’t control itself and I was given a ship that can’t steer itself” on “The Ballad of the Costa Concordia,” a crazed 11-minute saga that portends a nervous breakdown.

Toledo will attempt to maintain his sanity during his Lawrence debut on Thursday. The Naked Giants, a trio from Toledo’s adopted hometown of Seattle, will open the show with a burst of frenzied garage rock.

8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3. The Bottleneck, 737 New Hampshire St., Lawrence. 785.749.3434. thebottlenecklive.com. $12 in advance. All ages.

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