by JC Gonzo
[Editor’s Note: This is a re-cap of seeing a rough cut of Le Tigre’s final project, a live tour documentary. Titles have changed, and may continue to. Keep up to date here. Currently, the DVD release is pending as several fans who appear in the documentary are unable to be located in order to sign releases. You can help out by checking out images of the individuals who need to be tracked down and, if you know them, sending them in the direction of Le Tigre.]
I was lucky enough to catch Le Tigre’s tour documentary, LE TIGRE: ON TOUR (formally titled WHO TOOK THE BOMP?), at the 2010 Albuquerque LGBTQ film festival. Excited fans filled the theater with an energy of a live show, it was strange. In fact, after seeing the film, it felt as though we stepped out of a concert.
Looks like this will be the closest thing we will get to a Le Tigre concert from now on.
Le Tigre – or Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman, and JD Samson – has been on hiatus since 2007. They momentarily appeared on Christina Aguilera’s album Bionic in the track “My Girls,” also featuring Peaches. Since 2007, Kathleen’s been involved with the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and taught art courses at New York University. She has revived her previous music project, Julie Ruin, alongside former Bikini Kill member Kathi Wilcox. There has also been a trend of Kathleen Hanna tribute shows with notable performances.
Meanwhile, JD and Jo launched the dance-pop group MEN, who released their first studio album earlier this month and are currently on tour. Those involved seem to cycle through, JD being the primary constant, but others have included Emily Roysdon, Michael O’Neill and Ginger Brooks Takahashi.
What about Le Tigre? According to Kathleen’s post online:
“Will we ever write another album? I don’t know. Will we ever play a show again? I don’t know. But I still feel like Jo and JD are my bandmates, so to me, that means we are still a band even if all we are doing at the moment is making a dvd. I know it sounds cheesy to say “we’re on hiatus” maybe “sabbatical” would be a better word.”
In the film, Kathleen Hanna mentions her concerns on feminism disappearing from the music scene, and Le Tigre’s progressive, ardent work vanishing as though it never occurred. She need not worry.
Humor is a large part of the band’s brand of politics, but there are still the serious moments. At one point, Jo and JD contemplate running a promo in a publication that refused to publish the word “lesbian” and left out “feminist” in their band description. “Do you we keep up with our politics?” JD asks the camera, distressed.
The documentary provides insight to the obstacles Le Tigre faced daily, not only within the music scene, but within their personal lives. Encountering homophobic club-goers and closed-minded male-centric bands seemed to be a common occurrence for them. The girls laugh it off, even after getting egged while calling a taxi. These girls are often on the defense more than the attack. Yet, while Le Tigre appears to be the least amount antagonistic, hateful, or separatist, the term “feminazi” gets applied to them.
A friend I went to the screening with inadvertently saw Le Tigre live on their last tour. At the time, she hated them. She said, “When I saw them I didn’t get it. When they sang that song FYR, the word ‘feminist’ came up and I immediately shut off. You know what I thought? I thought they were feminazis.”
She clearly had changed her mind since, as we cheered along with other audience members at the screening. It is unfortunate that feminism is offsetting to most, but is a reminder why Le Tigre aimed to redefine it. They leave topics open to discuss. Le Tigre is, above all, a celebration of women and queers rather than a preaching of strict ideology.
After the successful screening and hearing the audience buzz with delight, it was clear that Le Tigre lives on one way or another, and is not the afterthought Kathleen feared it would become. The film showcases Le Tigre as a true landmark in feminist culture. We are treated with many live clips, recorded from 20 shows around the world. Stay after the credits, for several exclusive live clips are shown.
Although the Screenings section of their blog hasn’t been updated in ages, showings are still popping up. So if there’s a queer or feminist film fest in your town, keep your eyes open.