Hardly Art sends two of its prized acts–Chastity Belt and Protomartyr–on tour and the result is magical.
We caught both Hardly Art acts at San Francisco punk staple Bottom of the Hill on a Friday night, and local rockers Violent Change opened up. We actually made it a point not to miss this show because for us, we’re actually kind of obsessed with both bands.
2015 saw the release of highly acclaimed albums from both groups, Protomartyr’s second Hardly Art release, The Agent Intellect, and Chastity Belt’s Time To Go Home, their first with the label. We’ve been listening to these albums for quite some time now, but even so, we weren’t even close to being the biggest fans in attendance this night. At least everyone up front knew every word to every song, and danced along to every beat, keeping the energy going all the way to the end–which is kind of crazy considering that besides being under the same label, Chastity Belt and Protomartyr don’t quite sound like the other, but it works.
Seattle four-piece Chastity Belt played hits like “Time To Go Home,” “Lydia” ( the audience pick of the night), and closed out with “Joke.” Their strengths as a band come from their brilliant honesty, minimalist, hard-hitting sound, and obvious tight-knit bond; plus, they’re just the kind of humans you want to be friends with. Julia Shapiro’s ability to transform a negative concept into something humorous shines through on songs like “Cool Sluts,” where she belts Ladies, it’s okay to be slutty—for the duration of that song, women are reminded that they don’t need anyone to validate their choices and if they’re perceived as a slut, screw it. After hearing “Drone,” all I could hear was he was just another man trying to teach me something echo in my head over and over again. Through all the charm, silly statements, and their ridiculously entertaining social media personas, Chastity Belt has serious messages and insight to share that’s worth holding onto.
Shortly before midnight, the vibes got a little more tense once Detroit’s post-punks Protomartyr stepped on stage. We had been anticipating this performance for quite some time, not only for having missed them on their last trip through town, but also because of their anxiety-ridden, post-punk gems The Agent Intellect and Under Color of Official Right. And the stories are true about frontman Joe Casey’s unsettling presence. Casey had the air of a dude you might find on the last BART home, quietly fuming, and who you know probably just had the shittiest day–you don’t fuck with that dude. Yet, we couldn’t help but enjoy watching Casey and the gang pummel through a couple six packs and 20+ jams, including an encore. Truly, one performance we won’t soon forget. Highlights, were “Dope Cloud,” “The Devil In His Youth,” and “Ain’t So Simple.”
See photos from the night below.