(2011, Oscilloscope)

When they released their self-titled debut in 1999, Le Tigre quickly established themselves as one of the most interesting and unapologetically feminist bands of the coming decade.  The three piece is comprised of Kathleen Hanna (formerly of Bikini Kill) JD Samson (of New England Roses, as well as Peaches’ touring band) andJohanna Fateman. They’re often referred to as “electropunk,” the I’m not sure how useful that label is.  Their music is an amalgam of punk, pop and sample-laden, drum machine-driven dance music.  If those sound like disparate musical genres, they are – and thus Le Tigre’s musical uniqueness.

The new film Who Took the Bomp? chronicles Le Tigre’s 2004 tour behind their third album, This Island. It’s simultaneously a biography, concert film and travelogue.  Even for band whose career spanned only 5 years at the time of filming, that’s a lot to accomplish in 72 minutes.  Yet these three threads of the documentary are woven into each other in such a way that aides the pacing and flow of the film.  Bomp thus avoids the seemingly inevitable slump of a straight concert film (you know, the point where even though you’re not hungry, making a sandwich seems like a good way to pass the time until the show picks up steam).  This editing style also prevents Bomp from becoming a stale, straightforward biographical documentary.

In addition to Le Tigre sharing a bit of their story and their politics, much of the footage (on- and off-stage) really gives you the sense that they are a band.  As someone who watches a great deal of music documentaries, it was refreshing to see an utter lack of ego between the members, and a seemingly genuine camaraderie.  (In contrast, I’m reminded of the Pixies’ Loud Quiet Loud documentary, where the band pretty much avoids each other offstage at all costs.)

On a similar note, Bomp makes it clear that although Kathleen Hanna is Le Tigre’s best known member, this is a truly collaborative band, with all three members alternately taking center stage in composition and performances.

Le Tigre remains on hiatus, now into its fourth year.  Whether this “hiatus” disintegrates into a breakup remains to be seen.  Either way, Who Took the Bomp? ultimately serves as a not-so gentle reminder that Le Tigre was one of the most unique bands of the aughts.  The film never does divulge who in fact took the bomp.  But it does leave you hoping that whoever the perpetrator may have been, they didn’t take Le Tigre away from us as well.

Le Tigre performing “Deceptacon” from Who Took the Bomp?

Length: 72 min

Director: Kerthy Fix

Bonus features:
Band commentary track
7 bonus live cuts
Two film outtakes
22minute  live set from 2002
Chic-A-Go-Go interview

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