It’s twenty minutes into Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour, the surprisingly intimate and inspiring film about the new wave feminist band Le Tigre, and an idiotic Aussie DJ has just asked the women if they all have tattoos. There’s a perfect beat of silence, and then Kathleen offers her riposte. There are awkward chuckles, some jokes about buttless chaps, and then the hapless disc jockey asks about Kurt Cobain. (Roll eyes.)
“Part of Le Tigre’s mission as feminists is to counter this mandate that women have to be nice all the time and make everyone comfortable,” bandmate Johanna Fateman later explains.
Up until that pricless moment, I’d been worried that Bomp would be a boring documentary of tepid road stories. I’ve been immersed in Runaways research and reading Belinda Carlisle’s memoir; Hanna’s explanation of Le Tigre’s absurdist food rider pales in comparison to, say, the Go-Go’s infamous groupie videos.
But Bomp, which was released on DVD yesterday, offers its own powerful narrative, of feminists carrying their message around the world, from Australia to Indianapolis, without compromise. There are no shark sex stories, but Fateman does ponder the motives of the shark-hating bassist of Hatebreed. Hanna talks honestly and openly about her move from Bikini Kill to Julie Ruin to Le Tigre. Most affecting is JD Samson’s journey, from awkward moustached youth to international sex symbol. There are bonafide tears at the end, during Le Tigre’s last show.
And of course, Bomp’s driven by the band’s infectious dance music and blissful choreography. Now I have to listen to their records all over again. There are scant few movies about women bands; Who Put the Bomp ranks with Dixie Chicks: Shut Up & Sing as must-see movies about women singing their minds.