By Tom Zito
It was a great turnout Saturday night for Car Seat Headrest and Naked Giants at The Majestic Theater. On New Music Fridays at nOOn, I’ve been playing tunes from Naked Giants first full length album “Sluff” since it came out last March on New West Records. I was very PUMPED to see these tunes jammed live.
Naked Giants, with Grant Mullen on lead guitar and vocals, Gianni Aiello on bass and lead vocals, and Henry Lavallee on drums, hit the stage on time and proceeded to play with such energy that they ignited the audience immediately. There is no way you could stand still while in the line of fire of this band! By the time they kicked into one of the tunes I play, “TV,” the crowd was theirs.
I love when you listen to an album, and you get an idea of the memberʼs personalities thru the music. Then when you see them live, you see it and hear it at the same time. The band attacked each song with such fun ferocity in their 45 minute set. The crowd loudly joined in on the chorus to“Everybody Thinks They Know But No One Really Knows,” and the title cut “Sluff” followed, blasting a nice and heavy groove. It’s a jam I would definitely rock out on the dance floor.
A driving bass player, Gianni is greatness as a front man as well. “Slow Dance II” was a showcase for Grant on lead vocals. This venture into blues was filled with his razor-edged wicked solos. Speaking of solos, I present to you Henry Lavallee on drums! Henry is not a drummer in the background. He is, in my best description, a front man on drums. His performance was awesome in every sense of the word. It’s so refreshing to see and experience a drummer like this. These guys put the “POWER” in “power trio.”
By the end of their 45-minute set, playing as hard as they did, I couldn’t believe they would then become part of Car Seat Headrest and play even more!
Car Seat Headrest is a band I recently got turned on to. I added them to my playlist immediately upon hearing them last summer. Will Toledo on vocals, Seth Dalby on bass, Ethan Ives on guitar and Andrew Katz on drums joined the aforementioned Naked Giants — Henry Lavallee on percussion, Gianni Aiello on keys & guitar, and Grant Mullen again on lead guitar. The band launched right into their set with a cover of Lou Reedʼs “Waves of Fear”! I love seeing bands do renditions of the classics, exemplifying their influences. “Bodys” from their newly re-recorded 2011 album “Twin Fantasy” followed, which switched the crowd to dance-floor mode.
Will Toledo has a very unique voice and he sounded just beautiful. This time around he left the guitar duties to Grant and Ethan. This freed him up to dig deeper into his lyrics, which came across wonderfully. It was great watching Grant and Ethan jam together.
Sober to Death” was arranged quite brilliantly to include the Neil Young and Crazy Horse tune “Powderfinger,” which they incorporated seamlessly musically, and vibe-wise. The great harmonies of all the vocalists in this band blended just beautifully. I knew I was in for something special with this tour, and this moment confirmed it. These two bands, together for the first time, had the interplay and instinct of a band that has played together for years. These guys were tight and solid. It kept the crowd dancing all night.
When I discovered “Twin Fantasy” the first track I wanted to play on the air was “Beach-Life-In-Death.” I did not have a clean copy to play over the air. It made me happy they did this tune as their encore in that respect!
The sound was amazing all night, which as you know, can make or break a bandʼs performance. The intelligent lighting was spot on as well. The venue (if you havenʼt been) is friendly and warm and just the right size for a “big” room.
After the show I purchased both new records by each band. They were kind enough to take time out of load out to sign them both for me. I had the pleasure of meeting Gianni and Henry. Since Henry blew me away as a drummer, I talked to him for quite a while. Of course my old “Homeboy Show” mode kicked in and I asked him who influenced him to play the drums. He cited Keith Moon for sure, loved Pete Townsend as a front man guitarist, but as a kid, it was the movie “School of Rock.”
Then, I got a chance to blow their minds, when I told them my favorite tune to jam on the air was “Dat Boi”. I just love that tune. It is pure perfection. They donʼt do it live…..yet. Henry said that as a band, they consider that THE Naked Giants tune, and it always slips by everyone! They all took part in adding different pieces to it, and he went into a little inside detail on each oneʼs contribution. They then said they may have to start incorporating that tune into their live set!
I will always see these bands when they come together or on separate tours. The night I experience “Dat Boi” live is one I definitely am looking forward to!
NAKED GIANTS SET LIST
Everybody Thinks They Know but No One Really Knows
Slow Dance II
CAR SEAT HEADREST SET LIST
Waves of Fear (Lou Reed)
Fill in the Blank
(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)
Sober to Death/Powderfinger
America (Never Been)
Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
Destroyed by Hippie Powers
Something Soon/Tell Me When My Light Turns Green
Tom Zito started playing his dad’s records in 1963 and began buying them for himself at 50 cents a piece in 1969. He saw the rise of 60ʼs psychedelic and the first wave of artist-composed modern rock, and he was enamored with early 70ʼs progressive FM album rock. After being too young to take part in the 60ʼs underground, he found himself recognizing the 80ʼs underground and dove in head first. He promoted and played new wave post punk, 90ʼs alternative/grunge in 1,000+ capacity clubs and on 89X.
Tom has attended somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 concerts since his first in 1978. He’s also worked at St. Andrewʼs and for Ritual in the 80ʼs and 90ʼs.
To hear Tom on the air, tune in to New Music Fridays at nOOn, every Friday on Ferndale Radio 100.7 FM.