‘… As the Tiger is in space’
I’ve hated the Astoria for as long as I can remember, with its godawful sound, terrible sightlines and general joyless hostility to the paying audience. The building is riddled with black-painted tunnels, stairs, passages, turrets and dungeons, half De Sade, half Gormenghast, and L, my companion for the evening, tells me tales of running a disco here: to get paid she had to find an office deep in the bowels, in which an old woman — ‘about 90, so expendable if gangsters happened by’ — was locked by her employers. Oddly, it all works for Le Tigre. They look dwarfed: you can’t hear a word they sing all evening. They certainly don’t ‘master the venue’: I only ever saw Neubauten do this. But neither do they fight and lose (= everyone else). Instead, with a stagecraft somewhere between Shonen Knife’s poised artlessness — the cuteness of unintimidated girly indifference to ordinary rock craft — and Slade’s casual panto genius for the chorus slogan as crowd singalong, they somehow shrug it off into perspective, as a huge sullen backdrop saying Yes-Yes-Business-As-Stupid-Usual, except here are LE TIGRE!! Cue three tiny figures doing a martial-arts dance routine that’s more pogo than tae kwondo… If you want you can validate them by linking them back to Important Political-Philosophical-Feminist ideas, but really they’re doing the reverse: seeing if the ideas, punched through electro-perky videopop intercut with (inaudible) on-mike lectures about social responsibility, survive (a) the still-clichéd mass mediation of riot grrrl, and (b) that echt-punk standard the closing-song stage invasion. A LOT of audience can dance on the Astoria stage. The monolith is not toppled, true, but suddenly cheeky ants are swarming across it. If ideas are important, beam Le Tigre, this is what they pass through to become better.