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    [ The Need ]
    [ V for Vendetta ]
    [ Le Tigre ]

    Le Tigre, The Need, The Green Four, The Art School Cheerleaders - The Milky Way in Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA - 04.14.00

    Itís Friday night, and Iím driving down Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. As I near the Milky Way, I begin to scan the side of the street for parking, noting the long line of people stretching out of the doors of the club/candlepin bowling alley. I pass the club without finding parking, make the next right turn to try to loop back- but the stupid streets go all twisty and turny, and about 10 extremely frustrating minutes later, I make my way back to the Milky Way, park the car, walk to the club. On the walk there, a car pulls up and the driver says "Excuse me. I donít mean to offend you, but I have some brand new camcorders, Sony and JVC." "Uh, no thanks." Then I find out that the place is packed, and theyíre only letting people in as people leave. I drive home with a bad attitude, driving aggressively and inconsiderately. At home, I drink beer and review my tax forms.

      Le Tigre, The Need, V for Vendetta, and "Beyond the Screams" - Fort Thunder, 75 Eagle Street, Providence, RI - 04.15.00  

    Me and Brian drive down to Providence. Even though I went to school for four years in Providence, I had never previously been to Fort Thunder. If you live within a dayís driving radius of Providence, Rhode Island, you must go to a show there. A bunch of Rhode Island School of Design graduates live there, among them musicians and comic artists. Itís an industrial space in an old mill. It is cluttered and full of things and decorated with other things. Itís amazing and beautiful. There are many many bikes there, there is art everywhere, the walls are literally coated with paintings and pictures and toys and things. And there is a large open space with a stage. It canít be adequately described in words, you just gotta go. The only drawback is that the bathroom is really dirty.

    We get to the space around 8:30 pm, and we sit around for a while watching some strange Asian TV show on a small television with the color all screwed up. I ask Rachel (from The Need) if I can interview her, and she says sure. We talk for about 25 minutes (excerpts from the interview to follow). Sheís very nice.

    People start to arrive for the show. For a while they show the movie Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla on a screen set up on the stage. Then they show a movie called "Beyond the Screams" made by Martin Soreendguy. Itís about Latino punk and hardcore bands in the late 80ís and early 90ís. Itís pretty cool, punk music made by people who actually are pissed and have something to say.

    V for Vendetta play. Theyíre a three piece from Providence. Theyíre good. They do a lot of abrupt changes, and some really neat unique things on the guitar, lots of dissonant arpeggio figures. Complicated but also rockiní. Unfortunately, I missed most of their set, I was waiting in line to use the bathroom. I will definitely make an effort to see them again. While in line for the bathroom, I ran into Paul Barman (a.k.a. MC Paul Barman) who had played a show earlier that day at Brown University.

    Le Tigre set up. It was mildly irritating to me that they let their drum machine run while setting up, because it makes me think to myself, Am I supposed to dance to this? She pushed a button and is fiddling with the guitar, it's not requiring any effort on their part to let the drum machine run repetitively. Though I guess the computer is working hard, and perhaps someday machines will have feelings and appreciate dancing while they work hard to produce beats.

    Le Tigreís set up is two keyboards/drum machines, and sometimes electric guitar. Kathleen Hanna (the guy from Bikini Kill) does most of the singing. The first song reminds me of stripped-down 80ís synth pop, and sheís singing in this high-pitched voice and doing very bouncy cheerleaderish dancing, like in the Sonic Youth "Bull in the Heather" video. The music is a combination of drum machine, keyboard, guitar, and samples. Their songs have catchy chorusís and are noisy and dancy, and are accompanied by a slide show of drawings and photographs. I really liked the line in the song about people making you so mad that you want to crochet. Many of the slides were of political protests, and their second to last song was a slide show and audio montage of protests over a beat. On their last song, they blew out an amplifier at a part where she yells, right before they go into a chorus, and that was the end of their set.

    The Need set up at around 1 am. On record, they have guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, voices and other sounds, but live they are Radio on guitar, and Rachel on drums. Rachel plays drums standing up, hitting the bass drum with sticks. They both sing. Radio plays a black Rickenbacker through a Very Metal sounding rig. The first song is a little shaky rhythm-wise, and I look over at Brian nervously, anxious for his approval, since I dragged him to this show and he needs to be at work fairly early Sunday morning, which, at 1 am, it already sort of is. After a little bit, they get totally tight and it feels really great. Their music is hard to describe. Itís definitely rock music, it has elements of metal and prog rock; but their instrumentation and Rachelís strange shrill singing style make them quite different; Radio has an almost British- sounding Elvis-y voice. The songs have lots of changes; itís impossible to get bored listening. The guitar ranges from chunka-chunka metal, to Black Sabbath-y blues-y riffs, to "rock" guitar. Time signatures slip in and out of standard, yet it constantly rocks and makes you want to jump around. The music is huge and heavy and driving but also tight and nimble and kinetic. Radio is a guitar monster. Rachel does the coolest stuff on drums. They are just so bleediní good. Buy all their records, pledge your allegiance to The Need, and write them in on your ballots next November. What? Okay, fine, well, then donít blame me when the horrible horrible candidate gets elected, or the nearly equally horrible horrible other guy. [Which reminds me, should I be worried that selectsmart.com tells me that the candidates that best match my personal views on issues are the Socialist guy, the Green party guy, and Bill Bradley, whoís no longer running? Whatís a guy to do? Are things better in Canada?] It was cute how they talked to each other and the audience in between songs. Those folks who split after Le Tigre played really missed out.

    I think more music happened after The Need, but I had to get Brian back up to Boston, so we left. All of the performances were great, and Iíd recommend anyone to see any of the bands, so long as they have an open mind about music and arenít afraid of unconventional sounds. Many thanks to the Fort Thunder folks putting on shows in their beautiful home, and thanks to Rachel for letting me tape our conversation.

    Written By: Ernie K.