Perambulating the Bounds

Friday, August 05, 2005

Le Tigre, one of my favorite bands

Le Tigre played the Exit/In in Nashville last night. They're one of the few bands that I really want to hear. They have a very polished stage act, not much punk chaos. The band trades off delivering spoken, rapped, and shouted lyrics, with occasional steps into punkier scream-singing, over bouncy samples and drum machine tracks with live guitar on top. Like a hip-hop act, there’s dancing all the way through, and synchronized moves as they trade turns at the guitar and the sampler keyboard, and a video backdrop perfectly timed to the samples – an anti-Bush number included footage from protests in New York with the voices of the speakers on the sample tracks. The act is immediately likable, eye and ear candy for boys and girls, but unapologetically rooted in a feminist-progressive-lesbian (or sexually free) milieu. They did songs like “What’s Your Take on Cassavetes” which pitch-perfectly captures a kind of conversation that only can occur in an intelligentsia hipster relationship, and “Hot Topic” with its shoutouts to a long list of feminist heroes – if you can track all these references, it positions you in an alternate world (that deserves to be the prevailing world) where these writers, musicians, scholars, and artists are the culture guideposts. An exhibit last year in Cincinnati on political art in the 80s reminded me of how the art of that progressive world was pretty dreary back then. Nowadays guys like Le Tigre make it fun – a hell of a lot more fun than the prevailing culture, which is filled with killjoys and worse. The tables have been turned, and this seems more the rightful order. Le Tigre reclaims pleasure as an essential counter-cultural value.

Be Your Own Pet opened the band, at a time shockingly close to 9:00, so I was in line on the sidewalk during their set and still haven't really heard them. It sounded good from the street. I talked to two friends at the show who also got there late and haven't heard BYOP yet, and these guys go to a lot more shows than I do. Maybe it's becoming a thing, how long can you go without hearing the band. I have seen one of their side projects, Jimmy Cushman! (the apostrophe is an official part of the name), just guitar and drums, good straight forward hardcore, and my friends rave about another BYOP side project Deluxin'. But I haven't heard that yet either.


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