with the Butchies and Tami Hart
The Handle Bar, Pensacola, FL • October 14, 2000
One of the best indie labels around is the all-female Mr. Lady Records. Three of their bands are touring together, headlined by Le Tigre, featuring Kathleen Hannah. The Butchies and Tami Hart rounded out the bill at an early evening all ages show.
Tami Hart got things started on a gentle note. She is a young yet accomplished singer/songwriter whose album, No Light in August, is adding to her cult following. Live, she is hardly vibrant, sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar, but her songs are utterly captivating. In a different venue, with people not tittering with anticipation for Le Tigre, she would shine. Unfortunately, opening on this bill she pretty much got lost in the crowd, and really deserved better.
I had mixed feelings about the Butchies. I have always liked Kaia, dating back to her days with Team Dresch; Kaia has always been an unfairly underrated songwriter. “Peyton Versus Your Boyfriend” is still one of my favorite songs. But the Butchies albums have never really done it for me. The Butchies on CD and the Butchies live are two very different things. From their first song, I was hooked. I would go see this band anytime. They are fun and they sound great. The dense sound of their records gives way to allow Kaia’s sweet vocals and sharp guitar to shine. Beyond their songs, an odd highlight of the show is when the band unveiled their list of “Ten Songs You Don’t Want to Die To,” that was inspired by listening to bad songs on the radio while driving on the Atlanta freeways.
From her earliest days with Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hannah has been famous for her live performances. Hannah ahs evolved quite a bit from her shrieking, kinetic, persona with Bikini Kill. Not only has she blossomed into an accomplished musician who continues to be a major source of inspiration to other artists, but she seems to have mellowed a bit, settled into her life as a rock star and is having a great deal of fun. Le Tigre has some great songs, but listening to their album is just a tease for seeing them live. Almost boundless energy exudes from the three women as they blast through their set, which includes “Deceptacon,” “What’s Yr Take on Casavetes,” and my personal fave, “The The Empty.” At the end of the set, the band left the stage for “Slideshow at Free University,” which proved to be an actual slide show. The slides were rather political, dealing with feminism, rape, race relations, gay rights, Matthew Shepard, and Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The dense samples on the record are used in the live show providing nearly flawless replication of the album’s sound. The show, however, is much more than doing the album live. Even though the three women in the band share duties on guitar, keyboards, trumpet, bullhorn, and vocals, the stage belongs to Kathleen Hannah. She sings, plays guitar, flirts, dances, and even skips rope during the set. Nothing you’ve heard about Kathleen Hannah can prepare you for the energy and charisma she possesses. She is a vibrant force on stage, impossible to ignore. ◼