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Tough Women



L7: Having a Uterus Doesn't Mean You Don't Have Balls

Donita Sparks took to the stage wearing a grimy, black Coney Island High T-shirt. And I promised myself I wouldn't cry....

L7. The band that gave boys and girls wonderfully wet nightmares was dropping bombs on June 9, 2000 at the Bowery Ballroom. Now, I don't like the word "pioneers," because it sounds so Davey Crocket-ish, and tends to whip up visions of log rafts and coonskin caps; but since 1985 this band has proved that having a uterus doesn't mean your music is gonna come out sounding sound like Joan Baez.

Bleached-blond guitarists/singers Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner, sinewy drummer Dee Plakas, and tornado/bassist Janis Tanaka tore the dimples off the crowd and showed off their wicked head-banging skills with the opening song "Andres" from 1994's Hungry For Stink. A wee bit intimidated, the folks in the crowd just sort of stood in wonder. No shit. That's how you tell authentic rock from the modern stuff ¨C when the music actually stuns you, it's real. Sparks wanted to know what it would take for the crowd to get its ass moving. That's all it took. Permission to go ape shit was granted, and good ol' fashioned moshing turned the floor into a stew of sweaty bodies. "Ya like dat shit? Ya like dat shit," Sparks growled.

L7 was an absolute onslaught of orgasmic noise. Some of the aphrodisiacs of the evening included "Drama," "Shove," "Pretend We're Dead," "Non-Existent Patricia," "Fuel My Fire," "Monster," "Crackpot Baby," "Human," and my personal climax, "Shitlist."

Towards the middle of the set, Sparks experienced some technical difficulties. When the crowd's impatience thickened, the band was nice enough to do some improvisational rock. "I hate when stuff breaks," sang Gardner in her black cape, "I really hate when stuff breaks." Tanaka shared her favorite punch line with us (she forgot the actual joke): "I'm afraid not!!" Actually, if it's the joke I think it is, the punch line should read "I'm a frayed knot," but who the hell cares. Sparks began a chorus of "Janis Tanaka- she- likes- a- to- rocka," and everyone held hands (just kidding).

So, what is it about L7 that refuses to turn off? L7 is a bunch of twisted bitches that have yet to genuflect at the altar of modern music and preach its vapid bullshit. Talk about staying true to yourself. They've changed, not with the times, but with themselves, when they felt it was right. The music reflects it. Take "Livin' Large" off of last year's Slap Happy. It's a slower song with a very established confidence in its almost-sweet melody. Not exactly the onslaught like "Wargasm" from 1992's Bricks Are Heavy. And then there are the lyrics: "We're livin' large, in our own special way. We're livin' large and we don't get paid ... Got some lemons, make some kick-ass lemonade."

Oh, to be bad like that lot.


Stars' data

Donita Sparks: Guitarist/vocalists(b. 8 April 1963, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Suzi Gardner: Guitarist/vocalists(b. 1 August 1960, Sacramento, California, USA)

Jennifer Finch: bass/vocals(b. 5 August 1966, Los Angeles, California, USA; , ex-Sugar Baby Doll)

"Dee" Plakas: drummer(b. 9 November 1960, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

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