- Danielle Levitt
- Le Tigres Kathleen Hanna (center), flanked by JD Samson and Johanna Fateman, heads the crossing guards of cool.
Le Tigre's Kathleen Hanna is ready to put on a show. She also wants to educate your ass in women's history, social structures and political agendas, but plans to do it while wearing snazzy outfits and dancing the night away.
"We really care if people are going to spend $10 or $12 on a Le Tigre show," she says. "We're not just going to stare at our shoes and act like we don't want to be there. I think it's insulting and boring."
Accompanied only by a sampler, synthesizer, guitar and huge video screen, the three women of Le Tigre -- Hanna, Johanna Fateman and JD Samson, all singers and programmers -- manage to get their message across amid highly danceable beats.
The group formed in 1998 after Hanna's groundbreaking punk band, Bikini Kill, broke up. She said that being a spokeswoman for disenfranchised young women exhausted her.
"I realized I was writing these intense letters to strangers. I'd get these desperate letters from young girls, and part of what I was doing was social work," she says. "For a while it was a really great thing for me, but ... after hearing 3,000 rape stories, or losing-friends-because-I-came-out stories, or incest and domestic violence stories, I was walking around really depressed from that."
Le Tigre's third full-length album, This Island, has propelled them into semi-stardom, landing them a touring gig with Beck in Europe this summer. Though Hanna's more insulated now in her private life, she's still publicly confronting issues head-on.
"We're definitely still feminist, and that's part of our agenda -- being pro-queer, anti-racist, anti-classist, all those -isms -- but we're also just people," she says. "It's not like we feel we have to have something feminist in every album.
"It's more like, the stuff that's affecting us -- what's going on in our lives, what's going on in the country. To us it's more personal. We're not writing about it to be political; we're writing about it because it's our lives."
The difference, she says, is to put a positive spin on the problems: Rant and rave about your issues, but get people's attention -- make 'em dance to those issues.
"I definitely think people are freaked out about the political and the left, but also about being hopeful and optimistic, because it's corny. They don't think that fun and politics mix," says Hanna.
"We live in such a dualistic culture -- either you're singing these angry punk or folk songs about political ideas, or you're just some sort of pop band about partying, and the two never mix. Part of our thing is fucking with all binary positions, not just the gender one, because they're all kind of connected. And people are like, 'What? You can't be positive and having a good time while singing something about violence.'"
But where do the fun, the matching outfits and the synchronized cheerleader-like dance moves fit in?
"We knew we were making electronic music ... but it's boring to watch," Hanna says. "Being that it's electric, it frees us up to do sort of a lo-fi feminist Vegas.
"We really want to make something where people go home and say, 'Wow, they gave a shit.' You know, we prepared for the book report. We didn't just show up and only read two pages."
-- Kara Luger
Le Tigre with Electrelane and Gram Rabbit
Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Denver
Tuesday, July 26, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $20, 16 and up; visit nipp.com for more info.