Music Hall of Williamsburg
Chastity Belt

Chastity Belt

Sneaks

Tue, June 20, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$15 advance / $17 day of show

This event is 16 and over

Chastity Belt
Chastity Belt
A few years ago, while in a tour van somewhere in Idaho, the members of Chastity Belt—Julia Shapiro, Gretchen Grimm, Lydia Lund, and Annie Truscott—opted to pass the time in a relatively unusual fashion: They collectively paid one another compliments, in great and thoughtful detail. This is what we like best about you, this is why we love you.

I think of that image all the time, the four of them opening themselves up like that, by choice. It’s hard to imagine other bands doing the same. But beyond their troublesome social media presence—see: the abundance of weapons-grade duck face, the rolling suitcase art—and beyond the moonlit deadpan of say, “IDC,” lies, at the very least, an honesty and an intimacy and an emotional brilliance that galvanizes everything they do together. Which is a fancy way of saying: They’re funny, but they’re also capable of being vulnerable. “Giant Vagina” and “Pussy Weed Beer,” two highlights from their aptly titled 2013 debut, No Regerts, were immediately preceded by a sublime yet easily overlooked cut named “Happiness.” I saw a younger, still unsettling version of myself all across 2015’s Time to Go Home.

This June marks the release of I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, their third and finest full-length to date. Recorded live in July of 2016, with producer Matthew Simms (Wire) at Jackpot! in Portland, Oregon (birthplace of some of their favorite Elliott Smith records), it’s a dark and uncommonly beautiful set of moody post-punk that finds the Seattle outfit’s feelings in full view, unobscured by humor. There is no irony in its title: Before she had Chastity Belt, and the close relationships that she does now, Shapiro considered herself a career loner. That’s no small gesture. I can make as much sense of this music as I can my 20s: This is a brave and often exhilarating tangle of mixed feelings and haunting melodies that connects dizzying anguish (“This Time of Night”) to shimmering insight (“Different Now”) to gauzy ambiguity (“Stuck,” written and sung by Grimm). It’s a serious record but not a serious departure, defined best, perhaps, by a line that Shapiro shares early on its staggering title track: “I wanna be sincere.”

When asked, their only request was that what you’re reading right now be brief, honest, free of hyperbole, and “v chill.” When pressed for more, Truscott said, “Just say that we love each other. Because we do.”

This is who they are, this is why I love them.

—David Bevan, February 2017

“They’re funny, and slightly goofy, and gently vulgar, and they play with an appealingly loose, relaxed confidence.” – Pitchfork

“In between pelvic-thrusting sexual innuendo and self-mockery, Chastity Belt filter feminist theory, cultural commentary and general intellectual bad-assery…Chastity Belt isn’t the band 2013 wants—it’s the band 2013 needs.” – CMJ

“The guitars on this record…have a nice ring to them, like Liz Phair’s recordings.” – NPR
Sneaks
Sneaks
Late for detention
Wanna be amphibian
Fusion over fission
Door to door
Knees on the floor
Seashells by the seashore

Like most of Sneaks’ music, “Future” is in constant gyroscopic movement—thumping rhythm cutting around deep bass, spoken-word patterns somersaulting through image fragments, childhood nostalgia, and cryptic wordplay. The song is a fitting culmination for It’s a Myth, Sneaks’ second album due March 31, 2017, on Merge Records.

With little more than a bass, drum machine, and deadpan vocals, Sneaks, a.k.a. Eva Moolchan, makes minimalist music that takes up space—something she herself has made a point of doing in the male-heavy Washington, D.C., DIY punk scene that has been her home. Moolchan’s compelling songwriting, along with the fervid energy of her shows, prompted breakout D.C. label Sister Polygon to release her 2015 debut Gymnastics, which Merge reissued in September 2016.

It’s a Myth builds on Sneaks’ playfully stark approach to post-punk, which, as her hometown City Paper described it, causes listeners to go “from curious to provoked to hungry.” Hungry, in part, because the new album clocks in at just 18 minutes of 10 taut, captivating tracks (but still a feast compared to Gymnastics’ 14 minutes). It also adds Jonah Takagi and Ex Hex/Helium frontwoman Mary Timony, who recorded the album at Timony’s D.C. studio. “She’s got art in her brain,” Timony has said of Moolchan. “Her brain is making beautiful stuff.”

Though it flows from influences like Pylon and Bush Tetras, much of that beautiful stuff is hard to categorize or compare to anything else. It’s herky-jerky and fluid all at once, childlike and yet deeply perceptive. “I’m so sure what I’ve been told and I don’t need it,” she sings on “Devo” (a title that appropriately conjures another incarnation of robotic insight). “I don’t know what I’ve just learned but I won’t repeat it.” And while some songs revolve around repetition of the mundane (“Me n me n me n me n you/ You n you n you n you n me” in “With a Cherry On Top”), others are unequivocal confrontation (“You think you got a lot to say/ No you think you need a bigger stage/ You think I can’t contain my rage/ Let me see you bend your breaks” on “Hair Slick Back”).

Moolchan calls Sneaks “a character” that she’s playing, and there’s certainly an element of mystery around the persona and her riddles. But it’s also all her, born out of full solo creative control after stints in a number of D.C. bands. “When I’m writing songs, it’s actually pretty selfish, because it’s like, this is what I need to hear right now in my life,” she has said. It’s surely what others need to hear as well.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/