Loud and Queer

hen you think of lesbian feminist electro-punk politics, kick-ass dance grooves aren't the logical next step in your train of thought. So when you throw on Le Tigre's new LP, Feminist Sweepstakes, and you find your ass shakin'--and it definitely will--you might get so caught up in breakin' it down that the politicized messages in the music could fly right by. And that's what Le Tigre wants, almost.

These post-Riot Grrrl, post-punk poster children are intent on bringing a theme of liberation, but they've found that the dance floor makes for a far more effective political arena than MSNBC. Everything about this band epitomizes the ethos of a movement that they seem to understand better than the average Francesca philosopher, and for good reason. More than just talking it, these ladies have lived it, having helped birth an ideology and watching it grow to co-optable status before coming out on the other side with a more mature understanding of the system it opposes.

The Riot Grrrl revolution of the O90s and its subsequent merchanized gutting may have never taken place without Le Tigre front woman Kathleen Hanna. Back in 1991 she was the singer for the influential punk outfit Bikini Kill, whose music helped fuel a budding fem-power movement that showed the world that Barbie couldn't suck the self-esteem out of every little girl. By the time Le Tigre formed in 1999, Riot Grrrl had been all but beaten and left for dead by the you-go-girl commercialism typified in a certain "Girl Power" mega group. Le Tigre, originally composed of Hanna, zinester Johanna Fateman and video artist Sadie Benning had seen this all take place. But instead of abandoning their message, they just moved their soap box to the dance floor.

On their second full-length album (released by Durham-based label Mr. Lady Records) the band, now joined by J.D. Samson, who replaces Sadie Benning, tries to punk rock its way to a better tomorrow using a sampler and lyrics that are so straight up and down they might seem thin unless you look at them head-on. On "LT Tour Theme," they let you know what the next forty minutes are all about, screaming, "For the ladies and the fags yeah, we're the band with the roller skate jams." The music is a mix of punk guitars and new wave samples, with a DJ trick or two thrown in for good measure.

Feminist political perspectives provide most of the album's lyrical content, and although they haven't sacrificed any Riot Grrrl urgency, they've definitely tempered it with the maturity of hindsight. On "F.Y.R.," short for Fifty Years of Ridicule, Hanna hollers with an insight born of disappointment: "Can we trade Title IX for an end to hate crime?/ RU-486 if we suck your f---in' dick?/ One step forward, five steps back/ One cool record in the year of rock-rap."

However, more than being an indictment of social injustice, this album is a celebration of feminist queer culture. Le Tigre seems to realize that sometimes the most subversive route is to simply reveal the life you choose to lead. As the Feminist Sweepstakes' closing sentiment reminds us, "Don't let them f--- you around. Because those are your arms and that is your heart. This is your time and this is your life."



Share and discuss “Loud and Queer” on social media.