Le Tigre on Tour
Dir. Kerthy Fix; feat. Johanna Fateman, Kathleen Hanna, JD Samson. (NR)
Who Took the Bomp? follows feminist electro band Le Tigre (Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman, and gender-bending mustachioed JD Samson, now lead singer of MEN) on their 2004-2005 final tour across four continents and 10 countries after the release of This Island. The camera takes you to live shows, plenty of behind-the-scenes follies (particularly notable was an attempt to take pictures with Slipknot), as well as very close-up, intimate moments.
The film takes the riot grrrl fan out of her Doc Martens and into the playful world of three artists coming together and making a statement. The documentary is composed like a fanzine: some live footage juxtaposed with interviews, quirky outtakes, and a few shaky handheld “dear diary” moments.
At times, the band footage lingers too long on live performances, skimming the surface of how deep these women really are. Their role in the feminist DIY scene is played down as the documentary focuses more on their tour antics. Although these girls are indie-rock stars, their personal lives reflect the playfulness within their music. The live sessions are peppered with moments of the three in incredibly entertaining situations — they learn the importance of vitamins, explore history in the greenroom in Hamburg, visit the zoo in Russia, and partake in a hilarious workout session.
Le Tigre is all about the unconventional, as evidenced in their interviews. Their pro-queer post-riot grrrl electro outfit created an exciting awareness of what it means to be female and not give a damn within a disappointingly still male-dominated music world. In one of the interviews featured, Hanna decries promoters and club owners as “sexist” while defending herself against the “feminazi” label.
Le Tigre is obviously not your typical female band. They take oppression and use it to fuel their music. That leads to periods of introspection, like questioning their own politics during a trip into China, for instance, over concerns about commercialism and surviving as a band.
The documentary concludes on a bittersweet note, with Hanna discussing her feeling of erasure — a foreboding that what Le Tigre contributed to the feminist/LGBT music scene could soon be forgotten. “I want other artists to be able to build on what we did,” she says. “I don’t want it to go in the trash.” She shouldn’t have worried. Though Le Tigre no longer perform together, they continue to exert influence over modern girl-led bands like Sleater-Kinney, Warpaint, Le Butcherettes, and even San Antonio’s own Girl in a Coma. •
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