Halfway through the second night of Le Tigre’s packed-to-the-brim two-night run at El Rey, the three video screens flanking the stage showed a moving collage of pop culture images. Missy Elliot gave way to Patti Smith who gave way to Gloria Steinem who gave way to Bob Marley and the Wailers who gave way to Sonic Youth who gave way to Felix Gonzales Torres.
Like all these artists, Le Tigre are reactionaries and revolutionaries. Unlike any of them, they’re a trio of women who sing about empowerment (but not in a silly “girl power” way), feminism, abuse and lesbianism — and manage to have fun doing it.
“This Island” (Le Tigre/Strummer/Universal) is their major-label debut, but, post-Nov. 2, it’s unlikely that they’ll be embraced by the pop world at large the way they were by the glowing, dancing horde that packed their show.
The fact that they’re good natured — and inclusive — helps their cause tremendously. Throughout, the three women did choreographed dance steps more “Napoleon Dynamite” than Britney Spears, their dorkiness charming and celebratory.
Their lyrics offer juxtapositions. “FYR” has an anthematic chorus that begins “Feminists we’re calling you/please report to the front desk” and culminates with a chant of “50 years of ridicule,” while “This Island” has an unusual call to the dance floor: “Rent’s high/and the war’s on/and it’s last call.”
There’s nothing remarkable about their music, which has matured from angry retro-punk to simplistic retro-groove. But what is remarkable is the way the audience responds; every call to arms is another reason to both think and shimmy.
For anyone who says that young people are apathetic, Le Tigre is an apt example of that theory being totally invalid. Someday, hopefully, their revolution will be televised.