By: Amanda McMillan
The Garrison was the perfect venue for a band like Chastity Belt; it’s small, local, and a bit divey. It was the best place possible for a heady, shoegaze, alt-rock girl band from Washington state.
The band entered the stage for their sold-out show to the theme song from Sex and the City, which elicited some chuckles from the audience. It was a quirky and unexpected intro, and felt appropriately ironic (although, I imagine the irony was lost on some people because that’s how irony works).
As the four of them took to their instruments, they were dressed very casually, almost too casually for a stage performance. But, that’s what is charming about them - they’re just four friends who make dreamy, somewhat emotional alt-rock songs. Now that I was hearing them live, which sounded exactly as you would want it to, I that the way I would best describe this band’s sound is ‘sonically sad girl’.
There’s angst to both their overall sound and their lyrics that isn’t steeped in anger or confusion or frustration, but rather in the kind of resignation that comes from figuring things out for yourself. Their lack of energetic stage presence was at once a nod to a shoegaze renaissance, and also a physical representation of the realities of touring. When a crowd member asked how they were while they paused to retune, guitarist Lydia Lund responded with “You know when you’re just the right about of tired where you kind of don’t care?” she laughed, and the audience laughed with her.
There was a clear connection present between the band members, catching each other’s attention on stage and smiling or laughing. This kind of symbiotic chemistry gave off the sense that this is all a bit of an inside joke that they are a band that plays live shows in front of crowds of people. This comfort they have with each other on stage is charming and feels like the unspoken chemistry of sisterhood.
At one point, lead singer Julia Shapiro and drummer Gretchen Grimm switched places, and it quickly became very evident just how talented they all are. The remarkable thing is that they can also all sing in the same haunting, airy pitch that is, for the most part, indistinguishable. While that might normally be annoying, in this case it’s pretty interesting.
As they pause between songs to chat with the crowd, they laugh saying that they like to keep things “fresh and fun” by switching this up on stage. As they round out the rest of their hour-long set, there is a greater sense of ease on stage. They’ve loosened up a bit, and by the time they get to “Different Now,” which is met by an encouraging cheer from the crowd, they’ve really found their groove.
After a brief exit from the stage, the band returned for a quick encore of “Seattle Party,” and a few people danced in the audience. Chastity Belt is not exactly the kind of band where dancing comes easy, but if you are going to dance to them, that’s probably the song you’re going to do it too.
Overall, the performance was muted, but enjoyable. The most interesting thing about their performance, other than how talented they are, was watching them interact with each other on stage. In a way, perhaps it reminded me of me and my friends, and that’s what kept the performance from being otherwise a little boring. But I didn’t go see Chasity Belt at the Garrison to have a rip-roaring good time. I went to listen to four friends from Washington state sing songs that sound like how I feel. And that’s exactly what I got.