The closest I came to seeing L7 in their first heyday was when they were on the 1994 when they were on the Lollapalooza tour. We got to what was then known as Deer Creek Music Center (and is now know as Klipsch Music Center) in Noblesville, Indian a bit late and we could hear L7 wrapping up their set with “Pretend We’re Dead” from the parking lot.
I wouldn’t have the chance to see them again for another 22 years. They played a sold out show at Chicago’s Metro (one of my top favorite venues in the city) on August 06, 2016, and it was definitely worth the wait.
Punk trio Radkey opened the show with a damn fine (and prompt – 8pm sharp) set that sounded like a combination of the Damned and the Misfits. The crowd was appreciative and they got everyone geared up for more heavy rock.
L7 came out to a packed house of punks, Gen X’ers, MILFs, DILFs, gays, straights, and at least one woman in her 70’s I saw heading up to the balcony to watch the show. They opened with “Deathwish,” and immediately proved they haven’t lost a thing since that Lollapalooza gig.
Donita Sparks belted out the “Deathwish” lyrics and everyone in the packed, hot crowd was in the band’s hands within seconds. Suzi Gardner then bellowed “Andres” and Jennifer Finch knocked out “Everglade.” They came out swinging with three hard rockers and everyone was on their heels with joy and dizziness.
“Monster” (with Dee Plakas‘ much-beloved cowbell in full effect) and “Scrap” had everyone grinning. “Fuel My Fire” had everyone jumping, and it’s easy to forget how heavy “One More Thing,” “I Need,” and “Slide” are until you hear them live.
There’s no mistaking “Crackpot Baby” for anything but a fist to the face, especially with Sparks singing so loud that I’m sure people in the SmartBar downstairs could hear her. Two cuts from The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum followed – “Must Have More” and the always-excellent “Drama.”
The rest of the crowd and I were happy to chant and pump our fists to “Shove,” and “Freak Magnet” was a nice lead-in to my favorite surprise of the night – Finch (rocking age 50 and a Misfits-logo bass) and crew performing her song “Shirley” (a great tune off Hungry for Stink about NHRA drag racing champ Shirley “Cha-Cha” Muldowney).
They closed with, of course, “Shitlist,” which had everyone completely batshit by this point.
The encore was “American Society” (another great rare cut), “Pretend We’re Dead,” and the (finally!) mosh pit-inducing “Fast and Frightening” (which, if you didn’t know, has perhaps the most rock lyric of all time).
It was a great show with a great crowd. The Metro blasted Dee-Lite’s “Groove Is in the Heart” after the encore and nearly everyone was dancing on top of crushed plastic cups and spilled beer (myself included).
Thanks, L7, for reuniting and giving us these shows. We needed them, and I hope it won’t take me another two decades to see you again.
Keep your mind open.
[Thanks to Robert Fagan for getting me a press pass to the show, the lady working the press table at the Metro for being so helpful, and to Hannah – my +1 for the night. I’m glad to have met you and that you had a good time.]
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