Le Tigre – London Astoria, May 2002
Despite the lack of guitars, Helen Watling is blown away by Le Tigre.
I have to admit to being a little apprehensive about this one. I know, I
know. . . Don’t get me wrong, I love Le Tigre – there’s no better band to
groove to in your kitchen. I love that Kathleen Hanna was the inspirational
leader of Bikini Kill and thus, of riot grrl. I love the still passionately
and avowedly feminist message. I love that she inspired Kurt Cobain to write
the seminal (Smells Like) Teen Spirit. But . . . I’m used to seeing guitar
bands. I know how to watch guitar bands. I don’t know how to cope with
electro-disco pop-punk where loads of the stuff is pre-programmed, where
samplers are used, where there are NO GUITARS. . .
How wrong I was. From the moment the band bounced onto the stage wearing
matching Thunderbirds-style outfits, to the frankly grin-inspiring finale, with
the crowd chanting, singing and dancing up on stage, I LOVED THIS GIG.
There’s humour and beauty in these songs. There’s also a strong political message.
The atmosphere was electric due both to the crowd and the enthusiasm of the
band. Kathleen Hanna, J D Samson, Johanna Fateman are charismatic, talented
women, who have so much more to say than the heavily-feted white boys with
guitars our music press is currently so enamoured with. The music veers from
the call-to-arms of LT Tour Theme; the danceable, shoutey choruses of On Guard,
Tres Bien and the frankly, brilliant Deceptacon; to the quiet paean to dancing
alone in your room that is Eau D’Bedroom Dancing and the lovely dedication to
the obviously inspirational Les and Ray. There’s humour and beauty in these
songs. There’s also the strong political message – to keep kicking against the
pricks in F.Y.R. (‘fifty fucking years of calling us names’) which the audience
was invited to karaoke along to. The songs were catchy, danceable surges of
energy. Dance? Oh yes, every last one of us. Sing along? Oh hell yes.
Throughout the show the screen rolled photographs, pseudo-pop videos, and
short films. During Hot Topic (surely the grooviest ‘list song’ ever as the
band chant the names of influential female artists, film makers, musicians etc)
cover shots of every cool female artist’s album you could ever wish to own
flash up on screen. There were dance routines (marching band-style during Dyke
March 2001) and a spot of synchronised Hawaii 5-0 surfing to a backdrop of
tanned hunks on surf-boards. I left this show with the largest grin on my face
and inspired enough to want to go out and change the world. When Le Tigre next
come to town “ladies and fags, yeah” be ready for it.