Chastity Belt

Chastity Belt


There’s a real buzz around Seattle’s Chastity Belt, following the release earlier this year of their superb second album Time To Go Home. The female four-piece’s confident, carefree and fun-loving attitude translates well through their music, reminding me somewhat of Warpaint, in their approach. The basement is pretty much full to capacity tonight, and there’s a really chilled atmosphere.

Local four-piece Sprinters support – this is the second time I’ve seen them in a week after their appearance with La Luz at The Eagle Inn, on Saturday. Their blend of dream-pop indie surf rock sounds decidedly lo-fi on tape, drawing comparisons with Real Estate; but on stage they come across as slow grunge. ‘Last Song’, which is available on Blak Hand Record’s cassette compilation Blak Rainbow, is a delicate, sun-drenched slice of escapism, where a tinny, phased lead guitar cuts through, along with a soothing vocal. Live, the arrangement is altogether louder, with interesting beats taking over, as well as a heavy chord effect from 3 guitars that play in unison. ‘Denise’ is possibly the title of one of my favourite songs from their set (at least I think that’s what he said, feel free to correct me), along with another that contains the lyrics “don’t ask me”. I keep hearing J. Mascis when I listen to them, for some reason.

Chastity Belt casually stroll in and find their instruments, looking as relaxed as you like. The crowd settle to almost silence, awaiting the first song. Lead singer/guitarist Julia Shapiro attempts to gain a reaction by announcing that they come from the same place as Nirvana; it doesn’t really work, but they brush it off, deciding perhaps we’re too cool to respond.

They open with one of my personal favourites ‘Drone’. There’s a tingle down my spine soon after hearing the now familiar shimmering chords and lazy beat. Julia’s voice seems altogether less smokey and deep, tonight, but she grows into the performance. ‘Cool Slut’ follows, and the crowd are warming up as well, swaying along to the empowering lyrics. They play a few new one’s tonight, and they all fit seamlessly amongst their other tunes, both in style and quality.

‘The Thing’ prepares everyone for Halloween, starting with a shrill scream from all of band members, before the growling guitar kicks in. “Everyone’s infected…” is repeated during the chorus, and the spookily named drummer, Gretchen Grimm, overplays her part a little, amusingly shrieking as if in agony, or possessed, a little more than I feel she was supposed to.

‘Lydia’ is a highlight – the dancing is slowly spreading and becoming looser. They’ve found a comfortable balance in their music that sways effortlessly from mellow vibes to danceable, exhilarating, groovy melodies. Album title track ‘Time To Go Home’ is a perfect example of this, another highlight that inspires a whole load of shaking during the up-tempo choruses… “I just want to have a good time”. ‘Joke’ follows, and is possibly the song of the night – the chorus is the most uplifting in their arsenal, and does more than enough to earn an encore.

They drop a few tracks from debut album No Regerts (spelling mistake intentional) – most noticeably finale ‘Seattle Party’, which has all near the front of the stage dancing enthusiastically. It was a relatively short set, but the crowd reacted loudly throughout, making the most of the time that we had. Their latest album is pretty addictive, and can only be described simply as rock and roll. It’ll be up there on mine, and I’m sure many other’s albums of the year lists. Their sound is appealing no matter what mood you are in, and they take you to a happier place. They have enough depth to maintain your interest for quite some time. I would say that the 3rd album is eagerly anticipated, but I’m still far from done with the current one.

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Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.