Le Tigre Continued the Fight in Toronto

History, July 21

With cumgirl8

Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa

BY Kaelen BellPublished Jul 22, 2023

"I overhead a dad with his kid on the street the other day, and he said to the kid — 'what do we say to haters?' and the kid said, 'thanks for the inspiration." Kathleen Hanna was smiling big as she relayed this story to the crowd at History on Friday night, but there was a kernel of something heavy at the heart of the notion. 

Being inspired by the haters — railing against them with technicolour thrash, pummeling them into submission with buzzing keyboards and helium-pitch chants — has long been the M.O. of Le Tigre, a band powered by opposition to hatred and greed and exclusionary machismo. Le Tigre are a chemical reaction, a band born of friction and necessity. During their joyful, angry and hilarious Friday night set, they proved how much that friction still means some 25 years in. 

The band were preceded by New York City's cumgirl8, the punk band and multi-media collective that filters no-wave sludge and Slits-esque prickliness through a menacing smear of alien Y2K aesthetics. The four-piece were equal parts impenetrable cool and charming goofiness, tearing through heavy renditions of songs like "cicciolina" and "gothgirl1" with precision that always felt thrillingly on the verge of collapse. It was a fittingly stylish and intellectual foundation for Le Tigre's heart-on-sleeve gush.

Coming out in bold, colour-blocked outfits (Hanna and Johanna Fateman in ruffly cupcake dresses and JD Samson in a smart shirt and pants), the trio were warm and effusive throughout, filtering their still-potent anger — "If you're a straight white cis dude, please tell your friends to stop being assholes," Hanna said before launching into "My My Metrocard" — through a spirit of hard-won community and acceptance. 

They tore through the hits, playing "Deceptacon," "TKO," "Hot Topic," "What's Yr Take on Cassavetes" and "FYR," though it was songs like 2004's "Viz" that best exemplified the community they'd brought together for the night and the battles still being faced — battles that are bigger today than they have any right to be. "We're going to the club, and someone's gonna be rude to us, and we're gonna say, 'you know what? Fuck you! I deserve to be here,'" Samson said before jumping into the song's synthy thump. "Just like you deserve to be at your job or in a loving family, chosen or otherwise."  

Costume changes and jump ropes and choreography and a small tumble from Hanna that resulted in a group hug on stage — "I do that every day," she said, laughing — the performance was as much theatre camp as it was punk show, a joyous and open-hearted gift to those still fighting the good fight; and those tired of fighting and just looking to live. 

"There's so much positivity and love and joy, and then so much absolute awful hatred," Hanna said before the band played "Shred A." Last night at History, it was the positivity and love and joy that shone through most — haters are sometimes helpful, but the love is always more inspiring. 

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