L7 – Detroit (live)

There aren’t many better ways to start a new year than a release from L7, and it’s ever better when it’s a recording of a crazy 1990 live show in Detroit.  Detroit begins with the band apologizing for arriving late, co-lead vocalist and guitarist Donita Sparks making fun of a drunk guy in the crowd, and then having issues with guitarist / co-lead vocalist Suzi Gardner‘s microphone before unleashing a sonic assault with “Fast and Frightening.”  Thankfully, Gardner’s microphone works just fine for “(Right on) Thru” as she belts out the vocals like a professional boxer.

“Scrap” chugs along like a monster truck.  “Broomstick” is a forgotten metal classic.  “Packin’ a Rod” seems to fly by at 100mph (and ends with more great banter of Sparks taking down the rude drunk).  The inclusion of one of their earliest hits, “Cat-O’-Nine-Tails” is a welcome one, and the first time I’ve heard it live.  It’s crazier (and better) than I’d hoped it would be.  “Deathwish” is like a saw slicing through a log while the lumber mill is being swarmed by killer bees.  It ends with more fun banter like Sparks promising she’ll learn how to play guitar before their next tour.

“Till the Wheels Fall Off” has drummer Dee Plakas going bonkers through the whole track and probably terrifying most of the men in the crowd.  Gardner’s vocals on “Shove” are, as always, more like a hockey check than a push.  They end on “Bloodstains” before coming back for a fiery encore.  They initially offer to take requests, but that quickly devolves into drunken chaos in the crowd and Sparks dealing with tuner problems.  Bassist Jennifer Finch briefly teases playing some Black Sabbath before they announce “This is really going to suck, but we’re gonna do it anyway,” and launch into “Shitlist.”  This was when “Shitlist” hadn’t reached its levels of popularity that it has today.  This is the first time I’ve heard reverb effects on Sparks’ vocals (as she dedicates the song to her broken tuner), and they push her voice to the back wall of the venue.

Detroit is a welcome edition to L7‘s catalogue, and a nice time capsule of raw 1990’s rock.  By the way, they haven’t lost a thing.  They still hit as hard almost thirty years later.

Keep your mind open.

[Shove your e-mail address in the subscription box before you go.]

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Nik Havert

I've been a music fan since my parents gave me a record player for Christmas when I was still in grade school. The first record I remember owning was "Sesame Street Disco." I've been a professional writer since 2004, but writing long before that. My first published work was in a middle school literary magazine and was a story about a zoo in which the animals could talk.

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