Live Review: Le Tigre and Who Is She? in Vancouver, BC.

Live Review: Le Tigre and Who Is She? in Vancouver, BC.
Le Tigre photo by Leeta Harding

Le Tigre are on their first North American tour in 18 years. Last night, the electro-pop trio played their second of two shows in a row at the Commodore Ballroom. Led by Kathleen Hanna of iconic riot grrrl unit Bikini Kill, Le Tigre showed the Vancouver audience that the band’s political anthems still resonate deeply in 2023. On one hand, it is discouraging. There are still bad actors and assholes to call out. Free love and body autonomy are still crimes. But Le Tigre also remind us that despite all there is to keep fighting for, there is also plenty to celebrate. After all, feeling angry and resisting hate is as exhausting as being an object of anger and hate. Joy becomes more than a celebratory act but one of survival as well. Le Tigre knows all this, and that is why they have always made it their mission to be be the protest after-party.

Before Le Tigre ignited the Tuesday night audience, Seattle trio Who Is She? made their presence known right away with bubblegum garage pop and cuddlecore songs about rom coms, trying to lodge themselves in someone’s Myspace Top 8, and their home city. There, in Seattle, the members have been well-known for years. Each one plays in other notable projects: Robin Edwards as Lisa Prank, Bree McKenna in Tacocat, and Julia Shapiro in Chastity Belt.

All those outfits have a sharp ear for melody, so it is no surprise that they combine to make for some flawless pop. Who Is She? rocketed through one gem after another. They bounced from the playful, partially speak-sung “MoviePass” to surfy rock licks to, finally, their closing number, an inventive pop-punk cover of ABBA’s “Mamma Mia,” which got everyone dancing and warmed up for Le Tigre.

From here on, there was hardly a person standing still. Le Tigre lit up the audience with chant-heavy electronic pop that embraced the bumping bass and jagged guitars of New Wave. They made a grand entrance with “All That Glitters.” Hanna, along with JD Samson behind the beats and Johanna Fateman alternating between guitar and bass, front loaded their drum machine-powered set with some of their most popular hits including “FYR,” “Hot Topic,” and “TKO.”

Some of the best moments were Le Tigre’s less slick hits. “Mediocrity Rules” coasted on fuzzed out guitar. “Shred A” unleashed a gnarled, spikey riff. “Eau D’Bedroom Dancing” was a dank and janky jam. “On the Verge” was electro-clash perfection. The deep tech-house of “Get Off the Internet” came with a band outfit change and one of the night’s two coordinated dance routines. And speaking of cardio, who can forget Hanna jumping rope to their set closer “Deceptacon,” one of two encores along with the spooky “Phanta”? Le Tigre’s harder-edged, more stern songs were no less energetic and deserve mention too, including the charged guitar stomps of the urgent “Seconds” and the rallying cry “On Guard.”

Whether Le Tigre were singing, shouting, or sneering about the erosion of equality, watching the world crumble, or discourse on problematic art (“What’s Yr Take on Cassavetes?”), the band counterbalanced these dour topics with expressions of solidarity (“Keep on Livin'”) and pop culture references. Smart, inspiring, outspoken, didactic, and fun, Le Tigre showed the Vancouver audience exactly why the trio has been sorely missed for 18 years and still a much-needed voice.

Words by Leslie Ken Chu


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