The documentary “Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour” is simple in that it captures what Le Tigre does best, and that was the furious bombast that was their live shows. Seeing them on stage in film format is, for fans of the queer-core female trio at least, bittersweet, since they’ve been on indefinite hiatus since 2006, but we suppose it’s better than not seeing them at all.
Created out of footage shot by the band’s lighting director Carmine Covelli from their 2004-2005 twenty-something country tour, “Who Took the Bomp?” is more than a concert film and more than just a film for fans. As per usual rockumentaries, the film goes backstage as well as on the tour bus but it’s the casual drop ins into hotel rooms in the early AM and a seemingly late night adventure into the hotel gym where the film feels most intimate and all-access. Le Tigre is hardly Mötley Crüe-esque in their antics backstage. We get to enjoy the distinct novelty of a bunch of girls (who seems as close as sisters) goofing around and having fun on the road as well as fighting for the politics of what Le Tigre is all about, both on stage and off. “Who Took the Bomp?” takes a look at what it’s like as an all-girl band on tour.
In recent riot grrrl books such as “Riot Grrrl: Revolution Girl Style Now!” much is made of the media’s agenda when it comes to all things feminist and all things music. So it’s nice to finally see Kathleen Hanna and co. talk directly to the camera without worrying about sponsors or advertisers, and of course they have a lot to say.
Being an all-girl feminist queer-positive band in a sexist, homophobic male-centric rock ‘n’ roll landscape, you’re bound to run into a few issues on the road. Luckily, members Kathleen Hanna, JD Samson and Johanna Fateman, the three ladies of Le Tigre, couldn’t be more funny or articulate in talking it out. They field and humorously flip questions about graffitiing Kurt Cobain’s wall and then simply explain to the camera why they don’t want to answer those type of questions. Confronted with an all male Big Day Out festival tour they joke around with Hatebreed and get photos with Slipknot for their imaginary siblings. The political is also clearly personal. When Jane Magazine refuses to include the word lesbian in an advertisement for the band, Samson adds “it just hurts my feelings” and it actually does break your heart a little.
There are of course serious moments, but the best part of the film is how accessible and engaging the band appear. Relaxed and open to the camera, their personalities come through and it makes scenes that might seem superfluous — such as what they pack on tour — more essential and insightful. The film also serves to demystify Le Tigre as much as Le Tigre demystified being girls in a band. From laughing off a crossed wire adventure with a confused homophobe and subsequent egging on the streets of Sydney, it seems the girls can make a joke out of anything.
Director Kerthy Fix (who also co-directed “Strange Powers: Stephen Merritt and the Magnetic Fields“) is clearly a fan of the band and has a good understanding of the message behind the music and its place in music history. She created something out of the on-the-fly shot footage that’s more than just a curiosity for fans.
Hanna talks in the film about feminism disappearing from the pop culture landscape and all Le Tigre’s (and riot grrrls) work being forgotten in a few years. However with films like “Who Took the Bomp?” which captures the bands dance party friendly synth-pop and cool brand of feminism, it seems unlikely to be forgotten any time soon. More than likely the film will earn them new fans for years to come as their music and their message sound just as good today as they did when they arrived with a bang in the early aughts. [B] –– Samantha Chater.