By Thomas Kikuchi
Photos by Susanna Kemp
21 Nov, 2019
Touring on their fourth LP, Chastity Belt comes to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall to a sold-out crowd. This is a band that not only has been around going on a decade now but has consistently been shaping and evolving together. With each LP release, you can tell that each member is still present: Lydia Lund’s infectious and precise lead guitar lines, Annie Truscott’s guiding bass that highlights Gretchen Grimm’s supporting drums, and Julia Shapiro’s forward and intimate songwriting and lyrics. While these members often switch their roles within the band, they’re able to do this based on their solid foundation as a band.
The opening band, Strange Ranger, had an eclectic sound that allowed each member to shine individually. As they also just released an album this year, they have been touring with Chastity Belt and playing their new heartfelt songs.
Where Chastity Belt seems to shine the most is setting the atmosphere and tone of their songs. Lyrics seem to come secondary to the overall jam of the song, like on their track “Different Now.” The band keeps a steady pace and builds upon a simple bass riff that propels the song into an understated dancy groove. Grimm’s control on the drums becomes realized when the guitar lines change up, but she changes her cymbal two measures and starts on the ride with the lyrics. It’s little displays like this, where each member is actively thinking about and engaging in their respective parts, that bring songs to the elevated heights. It’s hard not to dance when you have this pulsating rhythm and then suddenly a full blast re-centers the song and allows for a groove that can go anywhere. Though this is one of their more danceable songs, the same chemistry can be found on any one of their songs. What’s so endearing, then, is their close friendship that holds the band together, and is the common subject on their new LP.
Chastity Belt encourages close relationships with your best friends. They’re the type of band you start with the people you love and hope that it lasts. Where you can spend your days in the living room and lounge around talking about the future together, and suddenly, here you are with millions of streams and booking tours all across America. You can hear this in their music. To play songs at such slow tempos and never rush or overplay is extremely challenging and can only be done when everyone is in sync. Every part has been meticulously written to each player’s strength, but never overcasts the other. Each member holds onto each other with a tight grip and a smile on their face, and their involvement in the songwriting process creates lines that will stick in your head. The songs that they play comfort you with sad stories that always seem to have a little bit of hope sprinkled in.
Their concerts are a space to find connections with your friends and think more about yourself. You can get lost in their waves of intimacy and love. They care so much about what they’re doing and about their fans and inspire this attitude in anybody who listens. It’s encouraging to be able to walk away from them at any point to do your own thing, but know that they’ll be there when you start humming one of Lund’s parts or sing a lyric from Shapiro. Whatever the case is, hopefully, one day you will have that impact on someone too, and that’s all anybody can ask for.