April 14, 2011

MEN Make Music.


That time I discovered Riot Grrl when I was all of 13-years-old and in middle school (but still too late to actually be part of any real riot grrl movement,) probably changed the rest of my life in a really real way. I listened to my music too loudly, but silently (oh, the irony) held on to the fiercely radical point-of-view that Kathleen Hanna-and-every-band-she-ever-performed-with & Bratmobile & Sleater Kinney & Heavens to Betsy introduced to me. A few years later, as I grew into my identity a bit more and started to explore my own relationship to dominant culture and politics and art and sexuality, everything they were talking about made a lot more sense to me. Fortunately for my budding baby-dyke feminist self, this was just about the same time that Le Tigre started releasing dance-a-thon political ladypowered jams like "Hot Topic" and "What's Yr Take on Cassavetes?" My real-time love for Kathleen Hanna continued to develop and I still freak out every time I'm at a dance party and "TKO" or "After Dark" or "Deceptacon" or a rogue Bikini kill song comes through the sound system.

Anyways, all of this is a really long winded introduction to say that as obsessed as I am with Kathleen Hanna, and have been for over a decade (on the brink of my 25th birthday, saying this makes me feel old -- I know I'm not -- but whatever), I'm completely in love with JD Samson's new project, MEN. If you're unfamiliar with JD, 1.) Why? 2.) She joined Le Tigre during the Feminist-Sweepstakes era and has been making major art and music since. What started as a DJ duo with Johanna Fateman (the other 1/3 of Le Tigre), became a performance art collaborative effort that made use of the talents of Michael O'Neill, and Emily Roysdon (!!!), and Tami Hart (taking the place of Ginger Brooks Takahashi) and other super talented and queer and awesome individuals who make music and art that I like to listen to, and they're asking IMPORTANT QUESTIONS while doing it. (I'm really close to apologizing for my enthusiasm over what they do, but I'm not doing that yet).

MEN just finished their US tour, and I was lucky enough to be in LA when they performed at The Echoplex (a venue I don't think I've been to since high school, actually?) and again in Brooklyn at The Music Hall of Williamsburg this past week. Needless to say, it was awesome. And these past two shows, along with every other time I've seen them perform, have been totally empowering and revitalizing and full of amazing energy. What can I say, they're a real class act, and they happen to be doing amazing justice to the musical forefathersandmothers that they were born from, (and with "Double Dare Ya" covers, to boot). Oh, and if I were single, their shows would also be a really good place to find a date.




Above photos by me; Canon 5D/50mm
at The Echoplex, Los Angeles

43 comments:

  1. Great post! I remember girls in middle and high school listening to Riot Grrls, Sleater Kinney and Bikini Kill. I never really got into that type of music, but it's good to hear of them again and learn of JD Samson and MEN, as well as her role in the LGBT movement.

    Keep up the great posts. I love your photography as well!

    Mounds of Joy

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  2. I absolutely adore your posts. I am like a child in front of a book, mesmerised by the pictures. Familiar with Le Tigre, but cannot say I'm familiar with MEN will have to check it out. x

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  3. you are so right, first you listen to music because you like it. afterwards you start liking things because they have something to say and they are profound!! this is what i love about you, you are always showing us the best of the best.

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  4. Ohhhhhhhhh girl. This post gave me so many butterflies and good vibes. It's a very special thing, a young woman's first time with Kathleen. I'll never forget getting mix tapes in middle school and making homemade bikini kill buttons for my friends.

    JD is keeping the dream alive. Also, it's true. I think only babes are allowed at MEN shows cause uhhh.... holy shit.

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  5. re: embarrassing babydyke Le Tigre stories: freshman year of college I went to see Le Tigre at Vassar and some friend had invited some totally babetastic friend from another school who i proceeded to dance with/HOLD HANDS WITH/make out with a few weeks later and it was the first moment when i was concretely like OMG HOLY SHIT I COULD LIKE REALLY DO THAT IT'S NOT JUST ME OTHER GIRLS WANT TO DO IT WITH ME EVEN THOUGH I DONT LOOK LIKE LESBIANS ARE SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE OMG THIS IS LIKE POSSIBLE OMG WOAH I'M NOT DOING IT WRONG THIS IS LIKE A REAL THING I COULD LIKE DEAL WITH THIS and then proceeded to obsess/have a meltdown/drunk dial her a lot for the next six months over her and her boyfriend and whatever else it is that 18 year old babydykes do, but, YOU KNOW. charming teenage homo-experiences and all thanks to kathleen, joanna, and jd!

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  6. I have three exciting JD fangirl stories:

    1. I have a polka dot bikini top that I took off at Coachella and threw over a fence for JD to sign. She totes did. It was magical.

    2. I have a Le Tigre record (like for really reals vinyl times) that JD signed for my kid. Tender.

    3. I have a photo somewhere of JD and I making out. OK, that last part isn't true, but there IS a photo.

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  7. Oh man, I have the BIGGEST crush on JD. She is totally amazing. I remember when I first heard BKill and Bratmobile and nearly shit myself at how good and different it was. Best music ever.

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  8. me too me too! little baby riot grrl i was.

    & seeing le tigre live in London when I was 21 or so was LIFE-CHANGING. it was like everything i had been reading on the internet in my small suburban Texas town had come to life right before my eyes & I absolutely KNEW, without a doubt, that this was the kind of world I wanted to be a part of.

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  9. hello

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  10. Oh Nicolette...everything in the post goes for me too. I remember the first time seeing Le Tigre (in a tiny coffee shop in Ohio) was one of the best nights of my life. My first eBay purchase (when I was 16...I'm 29 now) was a Bikini Kill shirt! <3 Someday we should have a jam out dance party!!!

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  11. I've heard a lot about MEN, but somehow never heard their music... I'm glad I did now, love the video too! Great pics as well, the colours are awesome!

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  12. I love posts about music! I've been a music rut, so I'll check them out for sure. These are great pictures!

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  13. even though i wouldn't consider myself a riot grrl (for a looooong list of reasons) reading this post had me nodding along, not even realizing how many Le Tigre songs I liked!

    thank you for sharing about MEN, i'll be sure to check out some more music.

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  14. i really love your blog!

    www.thesinuouselegance.com

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  15. Amazing post!
    Your blog is amazing and so inspiring! Following! Follow back? <3

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  16. I love learning to know new music! =)

    Karina
    http://missdiscoball.blogspot.com/

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  17. I love posts about music! I've been a music rut, so I'll check them out for sure. These are great pictures!

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  18. I have three exciting JD fangirl stories:

    1. I have a polka dot bikini top that I took off at Coachella and threw over a fence for JD to sign. She totes did. It was magical.

    2. I have a Le Tigre record (like for really reals vinyl times) that JD signed for my kid. Tender.

    3. I have a photo somewhere of JD and I making out. OK, that last part isn't true, but there IS a photo.

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  19. I absolutely adore your posts. I am like a child in front of a book, mesmerised by the pictures. Familiar with Le Tigre, but cannot say I'm familiar with MEN will have to check it out. x

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  20. Thank you so much! MEN are awesome, you should really check them out!

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  21. I hope you did check them out!! A lot of their music streams off their myspace page. It's worth checking out!

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  22. YES! Political music = kind of my jam. Thank you so much, Mrs. K!

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  23. Sidebar: My favorite thing ever is when Austin says I remind him of Kathleen Hanna. Ohhhhhhh, oh. We stayed up in bed watching old Le Tigre videos the other night.

    Yeah, MEN shows are total babeville.

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  24. I want photos of #1, please. Wait, and #3 too. Actually, all of them.

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  25. i know we already discussed this ad nauseum but i still want to hug/hold hands with this story.

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  26. BEST EVER. YES.
    anything that can move me (politically/intellectual) and make me dance is a win-win.

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  27. i don't know anyone who has listened to riot grrl, especially as a young woman, and NOT had this experience. a++ for sharing.

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  28. we need to have a dance party, for sure!! i'll be back in california soon, actually... email me!

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  29. yay!! hope you enjoyed listening to them.

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  30. thank you so much!! they're a lot of fun, and do an amazing live show. they're doing a show at the brooklyn museum in a couple of weeks (boo, i'll be out of town) that i really encourage you to check out!

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  31. i'd love to know why on that first bit -- do you find riot grrl culture to be problematic? (genuine curiousity!)

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  32. thank you so much! i'm going to check your blog out now :)

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  33. I really, really appreciate this post for several reasons.
    1) I only wish I had been as cool as you at 13. At 13 I was still listening to 98 degrees and other shitty pop. I didn't discover riot grrrl until I got involved with college radio.
    2) It's always so refreshing to read another female's perspective on music, especially when I already love your blog.
    3) Kathleen Hanna is so.fucking.cool. I'm on hiatus from reading Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution right now (didn't finish it before it was due at the library and someone else had it on hold. once they return it, i'll resume). But the whole first portion is about bikini kill, bratmobile, DIY, picking up instruments because you have something to say and being heard. They are all such inspirational women with fascinating stories and positive messages.
    4) I've never listened to MEN before. I'll have to check 'em out.

    PS looks like disqus worked out. isn't it a pleasant change?

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  34. YES! Thank you so, so much again for your pointers and guidance!! I hate to admit it, but I'm a little bit technologically challenged. Turns out disqus was pretty easy to install!

    1.) In retrospect I was cool, but at the time, I was just another weird alterna-kid in the middle of a fairly conservative community (despite growing up in LA), with candy-colored hair.
    2.) Agreed. Female voices are often silenced in music -- both as singers/artists and as critics. It's really unfortunate!
    3.) KATHLEEN HANNA IS THE COOLEST I HAVE THE BIGGEST CRUSH ON HER. I've also been reading Girls to the Front and it makes me SO HAPPY and SO EXCITED and just makes me want to run out and find a guitar (conveniently, my partner has a few I could steal) and start making music.
    4.) Please listen to MEN and let me know what you think!!

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  35. I have been reading back through your blog, because I love your column, and as a bigger girl trying to finally learn to REALLY love my body and create an aesthetic that is actually true to myself, I find you really inspiring.

    But then to read this post, and realize that not only so we share the same love for miu miu, gender politics (when you linked to the pink and blue project, it blew my mind), shiny sparkly things, similar perfume tastes, and French culture - NOW I find out you love riot grrrl and I get to read about you as a feminist baby-dyke?  It's love.  You are officially my favourite.  I relate to you so much, and I really hope you continue to post, and inspire, and be true to everything you are, because you are amazing.

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