L7‘s “angry girl” punk music style may not be regular traffic for Decibel Geek, but good rock is good rock and it deserves a mention. L7 originally formed in 1985 and shortly after a drummer change saw Demetra Plakas joining guitarist/vocalists Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner and bassist/vocalist Jennifer Finch. The ladies hit it bigger with their third effort, Bricks Are Heavy in 1992’s grunge explosion. Tracks like “Everglade” and “Wargasm” were featured on The Power 30 show on MuchMusic (the Canadian MTV) which is where I was first introduced to L7 thanks to the hostess Teresa Roncon. The Bricks Are Heavy cassette soon joined my collection and was in heavy playing rotation throughout the early-late 90’s with tracks often worming their way into mixed tapes. The album has held up well and still gets it’s 45 minutes in the sun from time to time around my place. From there I acquired the other works of L7 in L7 (1988), Smell the Magic (1990), Hungry for Stink (1994), The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum (1997), and Slap Happy (1999). While there were certainly many good tracks contained, they just didn’t hold up to the awesomeness of Bricks Are Heavy for me.
Finally, about 25 years later I got the chance to see L7 live when I attended Hellfest Open Air in France in June of 2015. The set was marred by the incredibly immense toll that the harsher than I’d ever experienced before sun was exacting from me……that and it was impossible to get anywhere near stage unless you had been there all day (there are other bands to see!), so short guy me could basically see nothing……and even though I was well hydrated, with french beer, not water, those effects were also beginning to surface. Nonetheless, it was great to hear L7 tear it up there in Clisson, France! When I got the wind on a Toronto show, there was literally no option of attendance. So decked out in my Hellfest event t-shirt I set off for The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on Sunday, September 6, 2015.
Sista Fista was the sole opening act and the best way I can describe them is a kind of female Steel Panther if Steel Panther were a punk band. The vulgarities flow freely throughout Sista Fista‘s lyrics and stage banter. The word vagina was literally thrown around like the amount spitballs hitting the ceiling in a grade school classroom! The all-female group did definitely supply some extremely catchy, hooky, punk style tunes laced with the vulgar lyrics. Some tracks included “Fist Fight Fuck”, “Play”, “Hate Crime My Asshole”, and “Goldie Lox 3 Bears 1 Cup” all available on their At Your Cervix EP. Their biggest downfall was their way too much, too long chatter in between songs, including overuse of the word vagina as well as a brief discussion on violent masturbation and an overly long pause while attempting to get the audience to make queef sounds.
L7 hit the stage promptly at 9 PM, launching into “Deathwish” from the Smell the Magic album. Donita Sparks announced that “the hits keep on coming” as the ladies served the fairly full Danforth Music Hall “Andres”. After “Andres”, which had a good portion of the crowd, including tone deaf me, singing along Sparks hoisted her guitar up, displaying the broken string. “Everglade” followed as they exhibited a good amount of stage energy. The Bricks Are Heavy soundtrack of my youth surged forward with “Monster” and “Scrap” coming close behind “Everglade”. In fact, only two of the eleven tracks of Bricks are Heavy would not make the setlist tonight (“Wargasm”-a confusing omission, and “This Ain’t Pleasure”). Sparks, Gardner, and Finch all took their respective turns doling out the lead vocals throughout the evening and there were few pauses between songs, most of them coming as “new guitar tech Brian” administered first-aid and new bandages to the injured Sparks. She sliced her finger during the guitar string snap during “Andres” presumably. The ladies also seemed to be having a few tuning issues, but the gaps in performance were well covered with humorous stories and quips from Gardner and Finch including Finch alerting us to another time L7 played in Toronto in ’94 at Lolapalooza in which Finch fell and broke her leg. Sparks also regaled us with the evils of purchasing cheaper “raccoon eye” makeup and how it was “burning the fuck out of her eyes”. L7 kicked ass in Hellfest France, but here in Toronto they literally leveled the Danforth Music Hall while the near capacity crowd danced, sang, moshed and crowd surfed their way around every note. Thanks Ladies for including Toronto in your tour and please come back soon!
Embarrassingly crappy cell phone pics by The Meister-never forget your camera dumbass!
Setlist: “Deathwish”, “Andres”, “Everglade”, “Monster”, “Scrap”, “Fuel My Fire”, “Diet Pill”, “(Right On) Thru”, “Freak Magnet”, “One More Thing”, “I Need”, “Slide”, “Shove”, “Mr. Integrity”, “Shitlist”. Encore: “American Society” (Eddie & The Subtitles cover), “Pretend We’re Dead”, “Fast and Frightening”