Story by Kora Elms Fleming
On Saturday, July 15, I had the honor of attending Le Tigre’s sold-out show at the Salt Shed. Once the clock hit five I was running around the apartment feeling like I was fifteen again getting ready for a 5 Seconds of Summer concert. I paced back and forth across the wood floors, smudging black eyeshadow on my eyes while asking Sici (amazing cohost of Whiny Grrrl) “Is this punk enough?” I traded out the flannel I had tied around my waist for a denim shirt–a sure sign that I have grown a little since fifteen. I felt that giddiness I remember feeling as a fifteen-year-old, but now I’m twenty-two, still hoping that Kathleen Hanna (lead singer of Le Tigre) will see my little head poking out of the crowd.
Before I jump into the show I wanted to give a little history of Le Tigre. Kathleen Hanna is the main figurehead of the Riot Grrrl feminist movement. This grrrl revolution began in the 90s, kickstarting third-wave feminism through a grassroots network. Grrrls all over the US started punk bands, exchanged zines, and held weekly meetings, and conferences. They were loud, political, upfront, angry, creative, and used punk music as a political vessel–subverting what punk usually represented, by bringing grrrls to the front. Le Tigre initially formed in 1998 and released their iconic self-titled album Le Tigre in 1999. They are now made up of Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman, and JD Samson. Hanna does not shy away from politics in any of her music. From Bikini Kill to Julie Ruin to Le Tigre, she has sung, screamed, and growled with the support of grrrls of all ages screaming right back at her. “When she talks I hear the revolution.”
Entering the venue felt like a great big hug of old punks combined with new and veteran riot grrrls decked out in various punk merch, bright colors, and prints. There were so many “good to see you’s” and “it’s been such a long time” in the background of me and Sici’s pre-show snack of curry fries. We made our way into the show, sneaking up on the left side of the stage and sliding into the middle to see the second half of the openers, MAN ON MAN. MAN ON MAN is a dance-pop group composed of partners Roddy Bottom and Joey Holman. Their tracks had the whole crowd moving, stealing small smiles, and forming dance circles with strangers. I would describe their sound as gay pop and indie rock–the use of synths and guitar creates the perfect blend of tough and uplifting sounds that allowed the crowd to express themselves freely.
After MAN OH MAN’s performance, Sici and I slithered a little closer to the front, with “excuse mes” and “oh sorry, sorrys” following suit. I could feel everybody’s excitement in the crowd, buzzing like a swarm of bees. Hanna and the band ran out on stage in a line to “The The Empty” and the crowd erupted in screams. Le Tigre performs as a fluid and highly connected band, all taking turns at the mic, performing their individual songs and exchanging stories. Paired with their punk, electric, rock tracks they projected different videos behind them with the lyrics to the songs, acting as the coolest karaoke screen I’ve ever seen.
Photos from the show by Kora Elms Fleming
This allowed the crowd to have a full experience in the concert, feeling connected and immersed, almost like we were all invited on stage. Hanna’s high and low growls and off-kilter voice transported me into so many moments listening to Bikini Kill and Le Tigre while stomping to class, sitting blankly at my computer in the cubbies, writing my thesis, and sitting on the bus trying to imagine what everyone would be doing with their day. Le Tigre ended the show with “Phanta” and “Deceptacon,” which the crowd (me included) went insane for. Everyone was jumping, yelling lyrics, and grabbing their friends to step just a little bit closer to the stage. Le Tigre’s energy is undeniable, choreographed, yet organic, punk, and just insanely fun.
To me, the coolest part of this show was the sheer energy that everyone had in the crowd. It was a mix-match of every kind of person, a collective quilt and collage of punks. This concert was a reminder to everyone in the crowd that it is never too late to go after what calls to you. Hanna and the band exchanged stories and laughs in between tracks. Ones of truck stops and getting back into touring, all tied up with Hanna saying “I’m 54 and I’m still a punk.” During the show Hanna pointed out a little girl on her parent’s shoulders with headphones as big as her head, bopping along with the crowd. Seeing her placed me in a space of being on my dad’s shoulders seeing The Counting Crows and Fall Out Boy, until I was old enough to be standing next to him at Modern Baseball and Misterwives. Now we head bop, scream, and sway together. All I could think about was how ten years down the line she will tell her friends that she was five years old when Kathleen Hanna pointed her out in the crowd. Hanna performs for these grrrls, twenty-something grrrls, and everyone above and in between. I left that concert feeling my five-year-old self on my shoulders, begging to have the headphones taken off to hear the music a little better, even if it meant an earache in the morning.
Check out Le Tigre on Spotify below!