- by Texacaliago Rating: Release Date: Label:
It's 2018, and L7 have come back to bitch. And I don't mean that in a condescending way, since "I Came Back to Bitch" also happens to be the title of their new single released a couple of months back, and really, it's everything you might hope L7 in 2018 would sound like. The title not only captures their trademark sarcastic sense of humor, but more importantly, it passes the ear test as well. The same could also be said of "Dispatch From Mar-a-lago", another relatively new single released in the latter half of 2017 which delivered the type of hard-driving and punchy brand of groove-laden punk/metal/grunge that made the band a household name back in the early/mid 90s. If you hadn't already guessed from the title, it's a decidedly sneering little jam aimed squarely at our current Abomination in Chief, and will definitely bring a smile to the faces of fans of that classic L7 "fuck-you" attitude.
And fans of that aforementioned attitude were in luck Friday night, has the band rolled into town to play before a packed house at the legendary Metro in Chicago. Not surprisingly, it was a generally more seasoned crowd on hand to take in the show, but it was also nice to see a few younger millenial types sprinkled in amongst the masses for good measure. What can I say, there was a decidedly retro vibe in the air (not sure how seeing L7 in 2018 could feel like anything but retro), but it was a refreshing vibe at that, especially for fans yearning for a loud and raw rock show.
Fellow LA kindred spirits the Death Valley Girls did a nice job of wetting everyone's appetite for the main event of the evening, delivering a powerful opening set that somewhat recalled the evening's headliners from back in their glory days. These ladies (and their lone male on guitar) kind of sounded like the next generation of L7, but with a slightly punkier/rawer sound, so, kindred spirits indeed. Their set was well received and had an intriguing carnal energy that complimented the markedly visceral nature of their music quite nicely. An above average/high quality set for an opener.
Taking to the stage in all their raunchy glory with the entrance music of Prince's "Pussy Control" blasting through the speakers (an all too fitting and amusing choice), L7 were greeted with great enthusiasm and proceeded to kick off their high energy set with "Deathwish" from their 2nd album Smell The Magic. The hits kept coming on subsequently rad performances of "Monster", a particularly up-tempo version of "Everglade", and the always entertaining "Andre". But it was their material from 1992's classic Bricks Are Heavy album that seemed to resonate most strongly and packed the biggest wallop live, which is not surprising considering it is the band's best album after all (for this reviewer anyway). With performances of songs like "Scrap", "One More Thing", "Mr. Integrity", and of course "Shitlist" and "Pretend We're Dead", how can you go wrong?
Another entertaining aspect of the L7 live experience is their penchant for amusing banter between themselves and the audience at large. Their patented raunchy and suggestive sense of humor was in rare form Friday night, as after Suzi Gardner mentioned she was fighting off a bit of a virus on this tour, Donita Sparks commented "you're getting off pretty easy when it comes to viruses I've got while on tour". In another amusing moment, while Jennifer Finch was high-fiving some front row audience members, she said "I'm not really good at this, I'm not really a sports person...here, let's try some fist bumps...now that's something I can relate to...fisting..." Considering that type of sleazy sense of humor is so at odds with the current crop of other female bands/artists these days (for better or worse) only made it that much more amusing for yours truly. That's what we really need more of in 2018: fisting jokes.
But when the band weren't channeling their inner-Margaret Cho humor-wise, they were busy emphatically delivering the goods sonically from the stage, particularly when they closed out their rousing 80 minute set with a fantastic version of "Fast and Frightening", which was a fitting way for them to end the show, and really, a good example of why L7 still matters in 2018.
So much of music being made in 2018 is the exact opposite of fast and frightening. It's far from dangerous, and is too often safe, tame, trendy, or imprisoned by it's own pretentions (or a ghastly combination of all of those things). And while L7's music admittedly appeals to the reptilian part of the brain that compels one to head-bang, there will always be something to be said for music that moves you, particularly when it's coming from an all-girl band with a healthy "fuck-you" attitude...especially in 2018. L7 are said to be at work on a new album for release sometime next year, and while their return to the musical landscape probably won't change the world, and likely won't make a significant dent on the current mainstream musical climate, it sure would be nice if it did. They may say I'm a dreamer, but, I'm not the only one.
Cheers to more L7 to come in future, and if their performance at the Metro on Friday was any indication, they've still got plenty of good stuff left in the tank.