Oscilloscope // 2011 // 72 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // June 25th, 2011
One step forward, five steps back; we tell the truth, they turn up the laugh track.
If you aren't familiar with the music of Le Tigre, you should be. They're broken up now, but between 1998 and 2005, their particular brand of electro-clash rocked audiences worldwide. This unabashedly feminist and queer-positive trio consisted of Kathleen Hanna, who broke ground as the front woman for the seminal riot grrl act Bikini Kill, Johanna Fateman, who started a slew of 'zines back in the grungy early-90s, and J.D. Sampson, an enigmatic artist who originally worked as the band's projectionist, but was officially brought into the fold after co-founder Sadie Benning left the band. Their lo-fi beats and choreographed dance moves were infectious, their songs were relevant, their politics were completely solid. Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour follows the band on their final world tour, supporting their great album, This Island.
If there's a problem with Who Took the Bomp?, it's the lack of an overriding narrative outside of the timeline of the tour. I have no problem with that, though, because the film is a lot of fun. Director Kerthy Fix splits the time between interviews, candid captures of the band backstage and in hotels, and performance footage. We get nine full performances, cut together from multiple shows on the tour. At first, the method might seem disjointed, but it works seamlessly to give the full scope of what the band can do, rather than focusing on the single "best" or "tightest" performance of the tour. The video changes, but the audio is taken from a single master, so the sound is consistent throughout the clips. The performances are supported by the interviews, in which they wear their politics on their sleeve, and the footage of the tour, where they prove that they're really three goofy women who know how to have a good time with what they do. Some people may look at the labels "feminist" and "lesbian" and generate some ignorant notions about Le Tigre. But make no mistake, as important as their politics and identities are (very important), Le Tigre is a blast of a band. Incorporating 60s pop, DIY electronics, and a punk aesthetic, they forged ground and had fun doing it.
From Oscilloscope, Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour is an essential disc for fans of Le Tigre and for music fans in general. The full frame image and stereo sound are nothing spectacular, but it's all clear enough. The real treat is the menu of supplements. Starting with the cardboard case, beautifully illustrated as is the standard for the label. It will simply look nice on your shelf. That aside, we first get a half hour video commentary with the band, in which they comment on some of the things that happened in the film. They're highly intelligent people and good storytellers, so there's really no way to go wrong here. Next, we have two deleted scenes, both of which could have been included, as well as an additional seven live performances in the style of the film. An interview with children's music show puppet Rattina further shows the playfulness of the band. Finally, what every fan wants out of a music documentary of one of their favorite bands, a complete live performance. Granted, it's only a twenty minute set, but the more Le Tigre, the merrier, and we get a lot of them here. Simply put, this is one of the single best music discs I've ever watched.
Truth be told, my judgment of Le Tigre may be skewed. I first saw Kathleen Hanna perform right about twenty years ago now, when Bikini Kill shared a stage with Bratmobile, the coolest band ever out of my hometown. I fell in love with her strength and energy as a freshman in high school, and I remain that way as a grizzled old critic. Who Took the Bomp?, while certainly not exclusively about her, reminds me anew how important her style of music and politics is to the art form.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Video Commentary
* Bonus Performances
* Le Tigre