Le Tigre’s Dance-Punk Finds New Relevance After 18 Years

JD Samson, Kathleen Hanna, and Johanna Fateman onstage at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer

On Saturday, May 27th, dance-punk band Le Tigre opened their summer tour with a raucous concert in Philadelphia’s Union Transfer. The group hasn’t performed together since August of last year and hasn’t toured extensively since 2005. As a result, excitement around the band’s reunion has led to sellout dates through the end of the tour in Brooklyn two months from now. 

Described by bandmember Johanna Fateman as a “feminist party band,” Le Tigre fuses electronic music, punk rock, and dance styles with lyrics that indict systems of gender and sexual oppression. Like singer Kathleen Hanna’s former group, Bikini Kill, the emotion of the music is harnessed through visceral anger about the social world. Although Le Tigre’s most notable songs were written over 20 years ago, their words carry so much relevance in today’s world. 

In an interview with the Guardian earlier this year, bandmember JD Samson described how “depressing” it feels to have these songs continue to describe their situations. Despite this, the material lives a life beyond the early 2000s, taking up new meanings in the present day. Generational divides are dissolved when Le Tigre plays; the entire audience engages with songs as if they were written today. 

“I mean if we’re gonna travel to Philly, we’re gonna put on a fucking show”

Kathleen Hanna

It’s no wonder that the exciting sound of the group has captured audiences of all ages. Le Tigre opened their show last week with an energetic “The The Empty,” a track from their 1999 eponymous debut record. Keeping the crowd engaged, Le Tigre broken in to “TKO,” where a riled-up Kathleen Hanna shouted lines like “Don’t you know? It’s our dancefloor!” The band showed no sign of slowing down, as they each took turns playing guitar and keyboard or leading tunes. It’s the sort of larger-scale do-it-yourself spirit that keeps the band’s show intimate and draws audience members in to let loose and rock out along with them. 

Songs like “Whats Yr Take On Cassavetes,” “My My Metrocard” found new relevance with a multi-generational audience, who danced along and cheered with lyrics like “destroy the right wing.” Behind the performers, a screen displayed visuals with vibrant colors juxtaposed with symbols like the Supreme Court building. Kathleen Hanna suggested that some of the graphics were done by the band in their own homes, filmed with makeshift tripods over bedroom floors over the pandemic. 

The band was equally excited to start their tour in the city, with Hanna saying, “if we’re gonna travel to Philly were gonna put on a fucking show!” Between songs, members took opportunities to speak to the audience. Hanna, Samson, and Fateman rotated between personal anecdotes that inspired their songwriting and comments of the political climate. Issues like rights to abortion, queer/trans acceptance, and racism are unfortunately prevalent themes now as they were at the turn of the century. 

Although Le Tigre hasn’t toured since before much of the incoming class of 2027 was born, the band picked up right where they left off and keeps on rocking. None of the members have hinted at new music on the horizon, but fans can find hope in their reunion as a sign of the band’s future. We wish Le Tigre the best for the rest of the tour, as they head to Primavera Sound in Barcelona and travel across Europe. 

Special thanks to Sarah Avrin and Charm School Media for granting WQHS press access to Le Tigre’s Philadelphia show.


  1. Intro
  2. The the Empty
  3. TKO
  4. FYR
  5. My My Metrocard
  6. What’s Yr Take on Cassavetes
  7. Mediocrity Rules
  8. Shred A
  9. Seconds
  10. Get Off the Internet (band off stage)
  11. Yr Critique
  12. On Guard
  13. On the Verge
  14. Viz
  15. Hot Topic
  16. Keep on Livin’
  17. Eau d’Bedroom Dancing
  18. Phanta
  19. Deceptacon