PitchForkMedia has a new LT review up:http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/features/live/l/le-tigre-05/
Live: Le Tigre
St. Andrew's Hall, Detroit, MI: 7 August 2005
Story by Johnny Loftus
There's Le Tigre the band with the roller skate jams. They're girls aloud rocking pastel patterns and gawky synchronized choreo like the hosts of an all-indie "So You Think You Can Dance". Then there's Le Tigre the trio of culture war revolutionaries. They've thrown open the payload door of an unmarked van and are arming tattooed, enlightened, and misunderstood teenagers with blackjacks and sawed-off baseball bats. "I'm all out of Molotov cocktails, kid; here's a cat o' nine tails, instead." And finally there's Le Tigre at their most effective, as a trio of fun lovin' propagandists who rile with beats, sly wit, and a lyrical cocktail of empowerment and self-deprecation. Live, all of this is on burst mode; it's in your face no matter where you're standing. Which is sort of exciting. But on a recent Detroit stop it was also only sporadically effective, as it was difficult to digest the music simultaneously with the message. It was the sound of the underground gone over the top, just like Le Tigre-branded ringtones.
St. Andrew's would eventually teem with kids dancing for inspiration, and maybe thinking about identity and political hostility on the way to their respective afterparties. But first, jaggedly mismatched openers Be Your Own Pet and Electrelane pitted youthful hyperactivity against studied post-rock throb, and the result was a completely neutralized push. When Le Tigre finally hit the stage, it was with synthesizers and guitars, snazzy outfits and a significant multimedia quotient. Strong vocals made up for the tapering effectiveness of burbling keyboards meeting ragged guitar chords for yet another few minutes of mechanized punk, color of rayon pink. Kathleen Hanna's yowl is still one of the coolest and most distinct things ever, and live she's even more of a bull in the heather, her voice like a big yellow arrow piercing the smoke clouds and poking into your neck, demanding action from your feet. Or your brain? The trio's handcrafted videos were also sharp and clever, abstracting feminism, politics, body identity, pop culture oddities, and human interaction into a concise, colorful packages that more than made up for Le Tigre's occasional lapses into rote indie electronic generica.
No one else really seemed to think it was rote. Cadres of punk kids, straight dudes, tattooed goons, gays, lesbians, and aging fans of Pacific Northwest indie rock started hundreds of competing dance-offs to the sound of the band. That's exactly what kept happening, adding a "we can dance if we want to" vibe to Le Tigre's suggested revolution. But the dancing also seemed to override everything by the end of the night. Sure, "Hot Topic", "Keep on Livin'", and "Deceptacon" effectively melded pulse, pride, and demands to wake up and take control. But despite Le Tigre's energy and honesty, some of its sloganeering seemed to lose the crowd, who would come roaring back whenever the electronic rhythms cranked again. Maybe it was a case of preaching to the converted, and the converted, being so, were just there to get down. But there's a larger question of what it really takes to meld activism effectively with musical fervor in the oversaturated 21st century, to effort that ultimate beat-down of the cultural status quo at the hands of an alt.lifestyle army. Trigger your "Mediocrity Rules" ringtone into a live mic at the Republican National Convention, maybe.