Steinem Gets Political With Le Tigre

Rock trio Le Tigre will be joined at its shows tonight (Oct. 27) in Pittsburgh and Friday in Philadelphia by veteran activist Gloria Steinem, who is in the midst of her own tour of U.S. presidential e

Rock trio Le Tigre will be joined at its shows tonight (Oct. 27) in Pittsburgh and Friday in Philadelphia by veteran activist Gloria Steinem, who is in the midst of her own tour of U.S. presidential election swing states. Steinem and Le Tigre frontwoman Kathleen Hannah have been acquainted for some time and were previously interviewed together for a cover story on feminism in Bust magazine.

At the Le Tigre shows, Steinem will introduce the band and discuss "the linkage between our daily lives and who is in political office, which I fear one doesn't get from the media," she tells Billboard.com. "The best part for me is interacting with the audience, because then I get to learn something instead of just listening to myself."

Steinem already appeared at a Michael Moore rally in her hometown of Toledo, Ohio, and paid a recent visit to an Anti-Flag concert in Tampa, Fla. She says the special bond between bands and their audiences are more important than ever as the election draws near (for the routing of Steinem's trek, which wraps on election night (Nov. 2) in Milwaukee, visit ProgressiveVoters.com).

"The ability of music groups of all kinds to go directly to the public without passing through the media is crucial," she says. "People know and trust musicians based on their records and their lyrics. In this age of pretty skewed media, that's precious."

"And as [turn of the 20th century activist] Emma Goldman always said, 'if there's no dancing at the revolution, I'm not coming,'" Steinem adds with a laugh. "Everybody has always known that music and revolution go together."

Steinem says she's been wowed by the number of new activist organizations she's encountered so far on her trip, the Le Tigre aspect of which was coordinated with the help of music activist organization Air Traffic Control. "There are many, many more activist groups than I've ever seen before, in all the elections I've been a part of," she says, noting such music-themed outfits as Punkvoter and Music for America. "However, there's still a shortage of information."

"The Republicans know that almost none of their issues are majority issues, so they just don't talk about them," she continues. "The media, in order to be objective, is even-handedly negative. It wrongly makes both sides seem to be the same. So, I think it's up to us to show that they aren't."

Indeed, according to Air Traffic Control director Jenny Toomey, more artists than ever are speaking up about their political views. To that end, the organization has helped coordinate recent political-themed music events such as the Vote for Change tour and swing-state treks by 311's Nick Hexum and indie rock trio Yo La Tengo.

"Artists are the best stewards of their own activism, but many often feel out of their depth when it comes to engaging political discussion," Toomey says. "The key idea behind Air Traffic Control was to get to the musicians early in their thought process and give them all the information they needed to be articulate on the issues."