photo manipulation by nacrowe
its always interesting when bands deconstruct the live experience and provide critiques of all the PERFORMATIVE CLICHES associated with the band/audience ritual. my favorite example was how RUSH in their later years would put up popcorn machines, washing machines (complete with laundry) and even rotisserie ovens (complete with chicken) in lieu of a wall of amplifiers. it was beyond dorky and silly but undeniably cool. LE TIGRE does the same, being deliberately aloof with clunky dance moves, gaudy homemade outfits and amateurish choreography designed to lighten people up and shake them from trying to act cool at shows and actually, you know, have fun. forget what the person next to you is doing or wearing. forget pretense. just enjoy life a little.
the documentary WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR (FIX FILMS, 2010) follows the POST PUNK-inspired NYC ELECTROCLASH outfit LE TIGRE (made up of JOHANNA FATEMAN, JD SAMSON and KATHLEEN HANNA) around the globe and finds them going through all the mundane realities of touring life. its pretty eye-opening and quite discouraging to witness how REDUCTIVE and MORONIC the interview questions (not to mention NIRVANA-centric) routinely are and the level tokenism they have to deal with. its frustrating, cringe-inducing and just plain exhausting to witness the band's value be determined by hacks in the marketplace with superficial notions regarding GENDER and HANNA's past associations with a long-dead male musician. youd think the enormous cultural shadow of BIKINI KILL would color their perception, but no, its an all-male band she wasnt even in! there's a moment in the film when the band is doing radio promos for a show in JAPAN and they wanted to add in the words "feminism" and "lesbian" into the advertisement, but word got back that "feminism" was alright but a no-go on "lesbian." that struggle between one's internal politics and those of the marketplace is super interesting. how do you maintain a sense of purity in broader profit-motivated economic construct with its own regressive agenda to maintain a conservative status quo. i dont have an answer but its a beyond compelling dilemma.
at least stateside, it is quite insane to think how male-centric the live experience itself has become over the years. the band talks about the experience of dealing with SEXIST venue owners, promoters, sound guys, bouncers, etc. why is that? is it just an outgrowth of CORPORATE MARKETING and HETERONORMATIVE CONSUMERIST AGENDAS that underlies it or is that just WESTERN CULTURE in a nutshell. is the lowest common denominator of AMERICAN culture all these seeming hordes of uneducated, beer-consuming heterosexual WHITE MIDWESTERN cavemen with high school educations? are we doomed to that stage of affairs ad infinitum? feels like it. not much has changed since 2010. in fact, it feels worse. it feels like we've regressed as a society.
obviously how one is perceived is beyond one's control. what i appreciate about the band is their conscious effort throughout the film to promote a sense of INCLUSIVITY, which is probably routed in the underground fanzine culture they all came out of. HANNA is of course famous for her participation in the RIOT GRRRL scene with her band BIKINI KILL which challenged PATRIARCHY and aggressively promoted female artistic and political participation at their legendary shows and beyond. LE TIGRE feels like an extension of that same same ethos but with a goofy, danceable vibe that is much less caustic yet still confrontational, while still promoting the need for a safe community for expression among women and those dominated by male-defined spaces. like ROCK N ROLL.
as a WHITE HETEROSEXUAL dude, i know that this documentary is not necessarily aimed at my demographic per se, but id argue it has relevance and value to my cohort more than a decade after release. its always a good idea to be aware of the lived experiences of others and i feel like the work of LE TIGRE was a great vehicle for such needed communication. just makes it apparent of all the work that still needs to be done.
definitely a documentary worthy of investigation.
parodies by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO focused on the massively influential RIOT GRRRL movement of the early 90s which brought a long overdue message of FEMALE EMPOWERMENT and GENDER EQUALITY with a decidedly DIY ETHIC in the best tradition of the HARDCORE PUNK ROCK and INDIE ROCK movements that preceded it.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
the following bands are either adjacent to, influenced by or
were themselves influences on the RIOT GRRRL movement
FILM REVIEW | THE PUNK SINGER
photo manipulation by nacrowe
released at time in her career when she was in between projects and hadn't toured or been seen in public for years as she privately sough a diagnosis for what she later learned to be late stage LYME DISEASE, THE PUNK SINGER (LONG SHOT FACTORY, 2013) is a documentary about the career and cultural impact of BIKINI KILL / LE TIGRE / THE JULIE RUIN frontwoman and RIOT GRRRL founder KATHLEEN HANNA.
in essence her greatest contribution to popular culture is the empowerment of a whole generation of girls and young women in the 1990s. her confrontational lyrics and fierce outspoken political manifestos place her in the vanguard of what PUNK ROCK is all about. in fact, i'd argue BIKINI KILL exceeded the label, pushing their listeners to organize themselves and start RIOT GRRRL support structures in their own communities and empower each other. totally DIY. absolutely grassroots.
that aspect of her influence is their in spades in the film as it goddamn well should be. in my mind she is a revolutionary figure. what made this documentary interesting beyond that is how she transcended her cult status and pursued her private life without being boxed in by her own supporters. its not unlike the premise from MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN (HANDMADE FILMS, 1979), where leaders have to fight an image and new cultural paradigm that they created. well, partly created. the media has a bottom line it has to uphold and only looks for the sensationalist aspects of narrative that it wants to promote. uplifting consciousness of both women and men is not a selling point for the corporate ogre. her frustrations with her presentation on a national stage that are beyond her control are well founded by expected. the media is a circus mirror side act on the best of days.
i dont want to make too much of this but i think that just as courageous as her creative work is her ability to pursue a relationship with ADAM HOROVITZ of the BEASTIE BOYS (whose LICENSED TO ILL album is famously juvenile and retrograde in terms of gender politics) because it speaks to how we dont choose who we fall in love with. in his defense, the BEASTIE BOYS quickly dumped that shtick and sought inclusiveness and championed issues of global awareness throughout the rest of their career. if anything they were a conscientious band that had a definite evolution and you can see in this film how HANNA's influence guided them along a route they had already chosen.
i thin also just coming out and being an advocate for those suffering with LYME DISEASE is incredibly powerful and empowering. i know people that find her preachy and maybe even a bit naive, but i wish we had more artists like her right now. i'm glad she is out there doing her thing, or teaching classes at NYU or working on art and solo projects, or continuing the fight against patriarchy. god bless her.
i should also mention that a whole cadre of female musicians, artists and writers were interviewed for this film including JOAN JETT, KIM GORDON (SONIC YOUTH, BODY/HEAD), ALLISON WOLFE (BRATMOBILE), LYNN BREEDLOVE (TRIBE 8), CORIN TUCKER (HEAVENS TO BETSY, SLEATER-KINNEY), CARRIE BROWNSTEIN (SLEATER-KINNEY) and BECCA ALBEE (EXCUSE 17) as well as BIKINI KILL bandmates TOBI VAIL and KATHI WILCOX, LE TIGRE bandmates JOHANNA FATEMAN and JD SAMSON, photographer TAMMY RAE CARLAND, director TAMRA DAVIS and writers SARA MARCUS, JENNIFER BAUMGARDENER and TAVI GEVINSON.
if you are a fan of PUNK ROCK or revolutionary movements in general, this is definitely required viewing. HANNA is a national treasure.
parody by nacrowe
watch HERE a recent episode of DEER GOD RADIO where we dive deep into the ELECTROCLASH movement of the early 2000s.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.