Chastity Belt are a band of honest self-expression. Listening to their music makes for an intimate affair, and their live shows mirror that feeling. The warmth of the YES pink room provided a setting perfect for an emotive performance that showcased the group’s growth.
The 2017 album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone marked a real turning point for the band. Whilst retaining their intelligent song writing, satire was swapped for sombreness. A risky move perhaps, but one that delivered a far more mature and refined style. The fourth self-titled record very much picks up where the third left off. Chastity Belt makes for an encapsulating listen and it’s obvious why they were keen to show off this new material live.
Opening track ‘It Takes Time’ proved to be the strongest from their latest release. Slow melodic guitar matched perfectly to harmonies that left the audience in a trance. This mood was maintained throughout the next two tracks ‘Elena’ and ‘Drown’. The new material manages to waver around the same motif without becoming boring. Each song relates to the next as a sister, not a twin – sisters that got on incredibly well on stage.
Chastity Belt managed to keep the atmosphere light, despite darker themes. It really seemed like they were there to have a good time. Drummer Gretchen Grimm swapped with Julia Shapiro on vocals for a couple songs, matching her in quality. Grimm was reduced to giggling at one point, setting off the whole band. You would think this would withdraw from the performance rather than add to it. However, moments like this seemed to reflect the group’s genuine nature, that which makes their music so heartfelt.
‘This Time of Night’ stood out in the setlist, providing a welcome change of pace. More aggressive rifts paired to mellower moments collect into an impactful track. ‘Used to Spend’, also from the 2017 album, proved to be a highlight. This track, in particular, embodies Chastity Belt’s powerful lyricism, centring on overcoming very personal struggles. The stillness of the room said it all.
The performance of ‘Different Now’ cemented why this remains the band’s most popular track. Even the very first chord of the distinctive intro was met with cheers. Beautifully melancholic and self-reflective, its delivery sent shivers throughout the audience. Following ‘Pissed Pants’ was just as poignant in its words. Matching that, a guitar solo descending into mania finished the set. Certainly, an ending that left an impression, although leaving it on the better known previous song might have fitted better.
Resounding cheers led on to a more upbeat encore. From the debut, ‘Seattle Party’ was far more playful in both its melody and lyrics. The fan favourite was received excellently by the crowd, with them taking the opportunity to sing along. Finally, Chastity Belt closed with ‘Joke’, rather suitably from the 2015 LP Time to Go Home. In contrast to many of the themes explored throughout the evening, ‘Joke’ is a song about getting stoned. Ironic and fun, it lifted everyone’s spirits at the end of the night.
After four albums, Chastity Belt delivered the quality performance you would expect from them. Conveying a range of emotions throughout, the band was able to evoke strong feelings from the audience. I could have only asked for more from them, with the set being kept to a strict hour. In addition, reports from audience members at the back were that the sound was not nearly loud enough – minor blips in an otherwise outstanding performance. Chasity Belt only seem to be developing as a band and the future is definitely promising for them.