In the past three years Le Tigre have gone from sounding like Bikini Kill with a drum machine to sounding like a slightly mellower Bikini Kill with synthesizers and a drum machine. Since Kathleen Hanna fronts this band too, they'll probably never shake those comparisons--especially since she's still snarling about misogyny, capitalism, racism, and homophobia. Le Tigre grew out of an alter ego, Julie Ruin, that Hanna invented in 1998; she released a solo album by that name the same year, then immediately teamed up with fanzine writer Johanna Fateman and bedroom video maker Sadie Benning (later replaced by JD Samson of the underground dance troupe Dykes Can Dance) to further develop the record's quirky electro-punk. But as calculated as it might've seemed to enlist so many cult artists--none of whom, Hanna included, necessarily had any musical skill--Le Tigre proved to be more than just a gimmick band. Though after three albums and an EP (all on the woman-run queercore label Mr. Lady) their novelty has definitely worn off, people still can't seem to get enough of the relentless sloganeering that's so central to the group's music. Their latest release, Feminist Sweepstakes, is chock-full of embarrassingly earnest lyrics--"While you were on vacation / Black people didn't get reparations"--but once you get past the preaching, Le Tigre's tough fusion of moody, early-90s Olympia punk and bubblegum rock, lo-fi drum programs, and single-finger keyboard melodies is awfully infectious. In "Dyke March 2001," a dancey dub ditty, they handle their polemic a little more abstractly, layering cheerleader-like chants of "Shout it out! Resist!" over increasingly tense synth shudders, a spastic marching-band beat, and samples from what sounds like (duh) a dyke march. Le Tigre's live shows require a high tolerance for heavy-handed ranting, both during the songs and between them--but even if you're not in the mood to be whipped into an ideological fury, there's still room for you on the dance floor. Def Harmonic and Tracy & the Plastics open. Thursday, March 21, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Tammy Rae Carland.