In 1994, Kathleen Hanna became the poster girl of the "Riot Grrl" movement. Characterized by extreme, unapologetic feminism and abrasive punk rock, her band Bikini Kill scorched the underground rock scene with music that confronted the male dominated industry with their debut album, Pussy Whipped. It found a healthy supply of like-minded feminist punks and, while the mainstream was busy producing Nirvana rip-offs, the sidestream was enjoying the beginning of its newest importance. In 1998, Hanna disbanded Bikini Kill and formed Le Tigre, a three woman project that traded guitar fury for a sound based in lo-fi casio keyboards and danceable beats. The feminist ideals remained, the punk attitude still dominated, and what had been a fist in the face of casual music fans was now an accessable invitation to a dance party where all genders and all sexual orientations were welcome and celebrated.
Le Tigre's new album, This Island, sees the band asking the world to listen and learn. Signing to Universal Records, they have left the independent scene for a chance to spread their message to the masses. After this year's presidential election, I can't think of better timing for music to move past its recent power-moping and finally say something that can change people's lives. The money behind the new album provides a new polish for the music that fits well with the newest crop of synth-heavy throwbacks, and with songs emphasizing activism, queer visibilty and dancing, Le Tigre seems ready to lead a rebirth of awareness.
Just having played at the Vic Theatre on Friday, November 5th, it is apparent the music community is ready to follow. A crop of youngsters filled the venue and made it known that they get it. A stage show with cheeky choreography, sparkly clothes, video montages of protest and queer artists, and genuine rocking, the band is a traveling political party. Not a useless party like the Democrats, but a real life, fun party with an important message than can touch the hearts of youth. It inspires them to feel good about themselves, while at the same time calling for action. The best part is that the band presents its goal of equality as something that is reachable, and as long as we are at it, why not grab your fellow man or woman or trans-folk and ask them to dance?