Shortly after Le Tigre thrilled Chicago fans by beginning their Salt Shed set on Saturday, July 15 with “The The Empty,” Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman, and JD Samson abruptly stopped moments into the second song – a tour debut of “My Art.” Hanna explained that they needed a moment as they hadn’t played the Feminist Sweepstakes song in 15 years. Fans embraced the decision, cheering and dancing even harder when the music restarted, reveling in the authenticity of the moment.
Later in the show – after stopping “On the Verge” to make sure everyone was ready to shout “A-O-A-O” when the time came – Hanna explained that there is a special kind of beauty in starting over.
“You can start over at any time,” she said over enthusiastically clapping fans. “You can have problems and you can start the next day and start over. In the middle of the day you can be in a totally shitty mood for totally valid reasons and you can decide, “Those mother fuckers aren’t going to take my joy for the next hour,” and you can start over.”
Throughout the night, the performance provided everyone an opportunity to hit reset on anything and everything that may have been causing stress or negativity in their lives. Whether exorcising patriarchal demons during “FYR,” sharing hot takes on cinema in “What’s Yr Take on Cassavetes,” or celebrating a perfectly average night out on the town with “Mediocrity Rules,” fans restored their spirits thanks to Le Tigre’s playful melodies and direct, often humorous, lyrics.
One of the most fun segments of the show unfolded when Hanna, Fateman, and Samson ran off stage as “Get off the Internet” played, only to return in new black-and-white outfits – a stark contrast to the brightly colored ensembles they wore at the start of the set. At a moment like this, there was only one thing to do; participate in some “Yr Critique” style synchronized dancing. “Deceptacon,” “Hot Topic,” and “Shred A” were also stand-outs of the setlist.
Yes, a good time was had by all, but that doesn’t mean their weren’t opportunities to talk about real issues, like the ongoing harassment so many people face when they step out in public.
“The thing about harassment [is] it is a big deal. It’s not just a fucking joke to harass people based on what their skin color is, what their gender is, or if you don’t know their gender or any fucking thing. It makes people want to not go outside ’cause they’re afraid they’re gonna get killed,” said Hanna, later adding, “Sexual harassment is one thing, there’s all kinds of harassment, and you know, we’re coming up on an election year and they are gonna try and scare us away from the fucking polls. All of this kind of stuff is connected together so let’s go places in groups when we have to.”
She proceeded to talk about the joy of finding someplace “where you can be and feel happy” when introducing “My My Metrocard.”
Earlier, Samson’s CRICKETS bandmate Roddy Bottum opened up the show with his partner Joey Holman. The duo, known as Man on Man, shared danceable, cinematic tracks like “Daddy,” “1983,” “Piggy,” and other songs that Bottum explained “represent us as a queer community and who we are and how we fuck and what we live like.”
Homan – who in the past played Chicago with a Christian rock band – meditated on the joyful experience of performing with Man on Man at The Salt Shed.
“It’s so amazing to be here – this many years later totally out, completely proud of my life – standing on the stage with my partner, playing in front of much bigger crowds than I could have imagined. It’s so beautiful and I love my partner. I love my partner. I love Chicago.”
If the crowd had things their way, they would have certainly started the night over the moment the show ended. Not to reevaluate or even change a single note, but to relive a unique moment in time. From Man on Man’s stellar opening set to the final notes of Le Tigre’s fun-filled encore, the experience was one of joy, community, and renewal.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)