It's twenty five years or so since Frank Zappa complained about the (brain) Dead Girls of London and if you sit on a bus around the time that schools get out then you'd be forgiven for thinking that things hadn't changed all that much; a lot of squealing over McFly, arguing over whether Hollyoaks is better than Home & Away and strained a cappella versions of the latest Girls Aloud tune. The TV is full of ads for mags that seem to deal exclusively with celebrity diets and bowel movements so there's no help to be had there and we've already discussed the state of television .
But there's hope. Normally when Londonist goes to gigs it feels the weight of age on its shoulders as kids run around making a nuisance of themselves in pristine Ramones shirts while we do our best Captain Rum impression: "I'll wager those legs have never been sliced clean off by a falling Marshall stack and swept into the moshpit before your very eyes..." Last night at The Forum however, we were more than happy to see so many youngsters turn out for a little political feminism dance-arama. It also meant we had a great view of the stage as the last few growth spurts hadn't quite kicked in yet.
Le Tigre can be hard to describe if you haven't witnessed them for yourself. The best thing is to recall the abandon with which Enid dances to Jaan Pehechaan Ho at the opening of Ghost World. That's Le Tigre in a nutshell.
Kathleen Hanna was the riot grrl genius behind Bikini Kill and Julie Ruin, but really found her sixties dance niche with Le Tigre. Samples and drum loops provide the beat while scrappy guitars and synths get the crowd jumping to the feminist/pro-gay lyrics. Hanna along with Johanna Fateman and J.D. Samson mix things up with a little synchronised dancing, exchanging instrument and vocal duties along the way and reminding you that music with a message doesn't have to be dull or preachy. One step forward, five steps back... Coming from anyone else this stuff could seem bitter, but a Le Tigre show is above all things fun and over the years we've been to quite a few without ever coming away disappointed. Last night was a great example of a band firing on all cylinders and while we don't think the new record quite survived the transition to a big label intact, live at least, every song is a killer.
A laptop hooked up to the backdrop provides video footage with graphic frenzy visuals and at one point takes over the whole show - giving Le Tigre time for a quick costume change while the audience gets whipped up into an anti-Bush pit of stomping teenagers, bull dykes, fags and tattooed Londoners. Of course this is preaching to the converted, but Le Tigre now have major label money behind them for the first time and it wouldn't be out of the question to see them build on their rabid fan base and turn a few heads in the mainstream.
Support came from Oakland's Gravy Train!!! who had to be seen to be believed. Words are hard to find but luckily Gravy Train!!! themselves have plenty to say:
Three girls giving. One man taking. All touching and rubbing themselves. Violently striking pelvii. Slapping asses. Humping walls. Spreading thighs. Bloodying bare feet on broken beers. Stripping short-shorts down to leotard skivvies. Harnessing air dildoes and burying them deep in both eager and sheepish boy buttz alike.
We believe the line up last night was slightly different but you get the idea. Imagine Leroy from Fame stripped down to (half) his underwear while cheerleading a John Waters movie. We were glad we went to the gig dressed as gay San Francisco police. Anything else would have seemed silly.