Critics agree that it’s hard to sum up L7 in a brief descriptor or single genre label, but a piece on display at the Punk Rock Museum does a pretty good job.
The poster, built around the album cover art from the 2021 best of compilation Wargasm: The Slash Years 1992-1997, shows a woman in power stance, wearing little more than what appears to be a metal wrestling belt. She’s clutching the ends of a strap wrapped around the head of some disembodied man or cropped-haired submissive, drawing them face first into her crotch.
Some might find the image laugh-inducing, liberating or both, while others might find it upsetting. And if there is a way to sum up the band and its legacy, it’s that shock factor.
Punk Rock Bowling festgoers can expect the foursome to bring that flippant, tampon-flinging energy to the outdoor stage on May 29—and to a more intimate show inside Fremont Country Club one night earlier.
“We’ve been jamming, rehearsing hard, and we’re ready for these shows,” L7 singer, guitarist and co-founder Donita Sparks tells the Weekly. “And we’re really excited to be playing Punk Rock Bowling again and coming to Vegas.”
Ever since L7 announced its reunion in late 2014 after a 13-year hiatus, the band has been touring the globe and releasing archived and remastered recordings along with new material. The quartet released its first post reunion full-length Scatter the Rats in 2019, after the screaming singles “Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago” and “I Came Back to Bitch” in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Sparks and guitarist and singer Suzi Gardner founded L7 in 1985 and were later joined by bassist Jennifer Finch and drummer Dee Plakas, mixing styles from the punk scene in their native LA with heavy metal in the Motörhead vein. L7’s 1990 single “Shove”and subsequent album Smell the Magic, released on the Seattle-based Sub Pop label known for signing bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, solidified the band’s place in the grunge movement of the ’90s. L7 toured with Nirvana in 1990 and teamed with Nevermind producer Butch Vig on 1992 album Bricks Are Heavy, which included their best-known song, “Pretend We’re Dead.”
“We never sold 500,000 copies. We never got a gold record,” Sparks says of Bricks Are Heavy, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. “[But] God bless our fans. They’re very loyal. They know we’re still sort of underdogs. … They know that we’re not Soundgarden or Pearl Jam or Nirvana, and [that] we didn’t get as big as those guys, for whatever reasons.”
By demand, the Bricks Are Heavy anniversary tour has hit 18 cities in the U.S. and Canada and is scheduled for Australia and New Zealand later this year. Those overseas shows will come after the release of a new track—“And it’s going to be an interesting way [that] we release it,” Sparks teases. “Then we’ll probably put out an EP, I’m hoping before the end of the year.”
L7 has already shown Vegas some love since it return, playing Punk Rock Bowling in 2018 and sending bassist Jennifer Finch to give guided tours of the Punk Rock Museum, which opened here in April. The museum recently announced additional guided tour dates with Finch for June.
L7 With Svetlanas, Grade 2, Informal Society. May 28, 9:30 p.m., $25, Fremont Country Club; May 29, 6:25 p.m., $90 single-day pass, Punk Rock Bowling outdoor stage; seetickets.us.
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