L7 Are Sum Tuff Bitches

Cook Young


May 1997 ¨C L7 are not the type of girls you want to bring home to mom. They are, however, the type you want to bring home when, say, mom is away for the weekend. They are a rude and raunchy bunch that play a nasty brand of gut-splitting music.

If ever one needed proof of this, Thursday night, May 22, 1997, at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom was it. You know you¡¯re in for a good show when even the sound check has a good meaty quality to it. L7's instruments rang crisp and razor-sharp as the roadies gave them their requisite strums just moments before the lights went down.

L7 pulled no punches. They arrived onstage and announced, "this is my pussy, eat it and you shall live." Following this, and a few other crowd pleasing pearls, L7 launched into their opening numbers. Among them were many from the new CD, The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum (Reprise), including "I Need," "Off the Wagon" and "Bad Taste."

The sound quality in the large hall was good, if not a bit bottom heavy. Onstage, front-person Donita Sparks is all energy and hubris. Her blonde mop bobs up and down in dramatic swings, often in perfect sync with bassist Gail Greenwood¡¯s multi-colored mane. For those unfamiliar with the L7 history, Greenwood is the newest member of the troupe, replacing Jennifer Finch, who departed from the band shortly before they began recording their current CD.

Drummer Dee Plakas is as hard-hitting as they come, which is surprising not so much because she¡¯s a woman but because she appears to weigh about 78 pounds. Guitarist Suzi Gardner shares much of the limelight with Sparks, trading lead vocals and doing equal time taunting the crowd. Greenwood was not entirely silent either. At one point in the night she asked (much to the crowd¡¯s delight), "What do you guys like to do here in New York City, sit in the car and smoke pot and stuff?"

Okay, I may be concentrating a bit much on the L7 banter but, hell, they¡¯re a funny lot. Midway through the show, Donita decided to share some of the finer details of touring with L7. "They¡¯re washing our panties backstage," she informed us. "We don¡¯t always have time to do laundry on the road so the roadies do it for us while we¡¯re playing. We have been noticing some of our panties are missing though."

As the set progressed, L7 lost little of their spark. The LA-based troupe tore into one song after another like the pros they¡¯ve become after 10 years of rock & roll roadwork. After a while, I even grew to like the bottom-heavy timbre of the mix and soon noticed that my internal organs were bobbing up and down in sync with Donita¡¯s head. Fortunately, I had nothing heavy for dinner except for the three or four beers I had at the club.

At the end of the set, Sparks instructed the crowd to put their hands together and few disobeyed. They closed the set with "Lorenza, Giada, Alessandra" and exited the premises like a tournado headed for the next county. It was an impressive set. In the words of Ziggy Stardust, that wasn¡¯t rock & roll ¨C that was genocide.