review archive

Le Tigre / Erase Errata / KaitO The Astoria 5th April 2004

‘Every time you turn on the TV or open Spin, or any kind of mainstream shit, what you see is just this rampant misogyny being sold as if it's the new rebellion, as if feminism completely took over and now these people are reacting against this new feminazi fascism that supposedly exists.’ – Kathleen Hanna, Ms Magazine, 2000.

Normally, venues fill slowly, punters trickling in as the support bands play, gradually adding to the atmosphere. Tonight though, The Astoria is ridiculously packed out long before any band steps onstage. There’s a palpable excitement in the air and every where you turn, you catch a glinting female eye. For once this is a rock venue full of women with a few of those men things thrown in. It’s nice to be part of a majority for once and it certainly smells a lot sweeter, of lipstick and clean hair. A seething mass of eager ladies swarms around the merchie stall. “Ooh we’re at a gig but we can do shopping! And look - lavender tee-shirts, bright pink badges and cute tote bags!” Ace. I join the scrum. I heard u were some kinda underground electro feminist performance artists.
Last time I wrote about KaitO, guitarist Dave sent me a nice email telling me the names of all his cats. This obviously makes KaitO great. What also makes KaitO great is the way they can now flex their musical muscles effortlessly, kranking out their fantastically deranged squonky sounds like they were flicking dust from their lapels. Oh hang on, I described their music as squonky last time, hey, it’s good to be consistent.
Gemma is secretly amused They look right at home on the big old Astoria stage. Nikki snaps out incomprehensible lyrics laced with vocal tics that turn her voice into another skewed instrument to layer into the mix of battered drums (mmm, I’ll have mine with chips please) aircrash guitars and assorted unidentified noises. Gemma does her secretly amused smile from behind her bass and flings in a scattering of yelping vocals. Whilst Dave bends double over his effects pedals and Dieter scrambles lankily around a tiny drumkit, the two women look almost serene up there, at odds with the angularly poppy scrawls of noise shattering around the gaff. They look like they know that one day soon they’re going to be the ones headlining. It’s just a matter of time.
Erase Errata are thrilling. The reviewer from The Guardian reckons they ‘inhabit the more demanding end of the punk-funk spectrum’ and that’s what I’d been expecting, tricksy time changes and the sort of music you listen to with a pained smile on your face. But reviewer from The Guardian - you a big girl’s blouse, for this is tremendously funky, shake yer hips fun. It’s all about catching the rhythm ‘n’ riding it down the high-street, rather than rolling along on a melody. And look, you need a beat? There are two drumkits! Singer Jenny lurks behind one of these declaiming in strident Siouxsie-esque tones. Now and then she emerges, leaving the percussive dips and swoops to drummer Bianca so she can concentrate on stalking the stage and hollering, light glinting from her large owlish specs. This is cool. Later she’ll declare that she’s a human/robot hybrid incapable of experiencing emotion before launching into a Yoko Ono song that manages to sound wistful. At the end she says, ‘I don’t really know what that song was all about.’ Meanwhile Ellie is rumbling out a bass storm from behind a hair tornado whilst Sara in her new-wave white glasses whips up a scratchy guitar maelstrom. Human/Robot hybrid Yoko collision
The band with the rollerskate jams

If you thought this place was packed earlier, now it’s time for the ridiculous crush to begin. Girls worm their way into tiny gaps in the crowd, boys try to push past wailing, ‘But my girlfriend’s in there!’ My arms are pinioned to my sides, I can’t move, but hey I can see! This doesn’t happen often and I drink in the vista, marvelling at the wonder of being able to see over the top of other people’s heads rather than having to peer through the gaps between sweaty shouldered blokes. Le Tigre run on cheerleader-style singing an electro-crunch version of The Pointer Sisters’ ‘I’m So Excited’. The screens flash and their outfits match. And everyone is REALLY EXCITED to the point that they seem to forget to dance, which is insane, even though the sound’s a bit dodgy. It’s a high-octane performance, utterly stylish, thoroughly involving, impossible not to shake yer hips. The backing track booms out delirious heart-skipping beats as Kathleen (one shouldered dress), Johanna (shirt-dress) and J.D. (shirt, trousers, headband) trade vocals, guitar, keyboards and the occasional trumpet blast. They’re constantly on the move throwing down discombobulating dance routines and generating enough energy to power several thousand motionless mumbling bloke-bands for millennia (not that you’d want to, mind).

We get a bumper-pack of old faves (though no Kitten fave, ‘On Guard’), ‘What’s Yr Take On Cassavetes?’, ‘The The Empty’, ‘Metrocard’, ‘Mediocrity’, Keep On Livin’, clubrr-grrrl classic ‘Hot Topic’. The crowd picks up their cues without missing a beat, gleefully yelling out lyrics, ripping into ‘F.Y.R’ with gusto, ‘Feminists we’re calling you. Please report to the front desk. Let's name this phenomenon. It's too dumb to bring us down.’ It sounds fantastic to hear a massed chorus of female shouts. And of course there's Kathleen Hanna's voice, like a bomb going off, firing out rockets of righteous energy, keeping you on your toes, keeping you thinking. New songs leave you thrilling for the next album, especially one sung by J.D. about ‘butch lesbians’. fifty fuckin years of calling us names
Let me hear you depoliticize my rhyme

A constant barrage of imagery flashes across the stage backdrop, including the excellent dumb office video to accompany ‘Well Well Well’ and of course the Aerobicon dancers for ‘Deceptacon’. Ah, ‘Deceptacon’, you knew it had to happen. It’s the last song tonight (minus brief encore) and the place erupts, ‘Wanna disco? Wanna see me disco?’ Well here y’are then, hundreds of female feet pound the Astoria floor. Everywhere, including the balcony, there’s a sea of bouncing heads and riotous grins. This is just as it should be.

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