Live Review: Chastity Belt + Loose Tooth + Baby Blue – The Curtin, Melbourne (07.10.16)

It was affirming to see that the room was already mostly filled when first act Baby Blue took to the stage, opening the night. Baby Blue brought a dreamy indie pop-rock that danced between decidedly 60s sounds, as well as moments nearly reminiscent of Major Leagues. Fronted by Rhea Caldwell’s unique voice, we were taken across a laid back set soaked with lyrics that took me to summer, loves lost and found, and made for a relatable opening act.

Loose Tooth are self described as ‘haunting garage pop’, sharing vocals between the three members. There’s wistful female vocals from Etta Curry (drums/vox) and Nellie Jackson (guitar/vox), adding to undeniably 80s vocal harmonies, rising and creating something truly glorious with bassist Luc Dawson’s voice. These heavenly tones are layered over simple, punchy drum lines and bass riffs that are anything but ambivalent. The breezy guitar adds to their stripped-back sound, crafting the sound that is undeniably Loose Tooth; hazy, fuzzy, delicious pop. They really held their own over the stage, had even the most nonchalant audience members dancing, and weren’t out of place in the leagues of Chastity Belt – this trio is going places.

Chastity Belt are undeniably really rad chicks. They’ve reclaimed language used in the control of the female gender, and are now performing under that name, sharing tales of love, sex, feminine constructs, society, and parties. It’s a noise-pop, post-post-punk sound, where all members are self-taught on their instruments, allowing them to explore and adopt characteristic styles of playing – each shows a real intuition to each of their instruments. There’s a beautiful, shared dynamic on stage; rhythm and lead guitar meander, vocals rise and fall in combinations of the four. Vocalist/guitarist Julia Shapiro even switched parts with drummer Gretchen Grimm for a song, each nonchalantly nailing the adopted roles.

I love the sense of melancholy that is incurred by Chastity Belt’s sound. There’s something satirical, nearly silly, at moments as the girls address oppressive issues facing a modern woman. The music is angry, but still drives home catchy pop-riffs in hordes. The songs bloom and fall away, but the messages underlying them catch in your throat. This is intellectual music, and its damn good music at that – it’s no surprise that they were chorused back to the stage for a double encore.

It’s evident that Chastity Belt are doing something that we need. They’re opening minds, forcing uncomfortable questions, carving the path for female musicians – not to mention making some music that is reverb-heaven on the ears. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this talented group, and hearing music that will be created in their wake.