Le Tigre at Metro, March 2002
By MARK GUARINO
Daily Herald Music Critic
Just as early 20th century sharecroppers expelled their pain through 12-bar hollers, a group of feminists named Le Tigre kick out the modern day blues through synthesized beats.
The progressively minded indie rock trio may have been preaching to the choir, but no one was liberated through sandwich boards and protest slogans.
Before a sold-out crowed at Metro Thursday, the band used jerky, programmed beats and razor-sharp guitar riffs to taunt corruption of every kind and bring it to its knees.
With lyrics flashed on a screen behind them for all to chant, their song “FYR” became both a call to arms and a jeer at the status quo. It was also a powerful statement that racism, homophobia, violence and sexism can be extinguished once and for all if you stomp it out with your dancing shoes on.
The pace never slowed as Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman and JD Samson clipped through 16 songs in 60 minutes. Dressed in uniforms that made them look as if dispatched from the same crossing guard unit, the three led the crowed through synchronized dance freakouts, some held together by just a string. Their sisterhood was not just about thumbing their noses at true rock professionalism; when they traded instruments – guitar, keyboard, electric drum heads and, yes, megaphone — it was community action at work, loud and proud.
Still, with a voice as strong as an air raid siren, Hanna couldn’t thwart her role as a group leader. Her previous band, Bikini Kill, launched a revolution of girl rock fury back in the early ’90s. Now, Hanna is less on the attack and more about holding her ground with family. Her song “Hot Topic” places following on the heels of history book subversives Angela Davis, Yoko Ono, Billie Jean King and Pattie Smith.
While the crowd showed that was true (what other rock band gets thrown hand-crafted shoulder bags?), Le Tigre connected the dots themselves with “Keep On Livin’.” A letter of encouragement set to bouncy New Wave synth hooks, it worked to unshackle those new century postmodern blues.