Tuesday, September 8, 2015

L7 at Irving Plaza

Guitarist/vocalists Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner began playing as a punk rock duo in 1985 in Los Angeles, California. They formed L7, named after a 1960s slang word for a "square" person who was not "hip." Bassist Jennifer Finch and drummer Roy Koutsky joined, but Koutsky left in short time and Demetra "Dee" Plakas became the L7 drummer. L7 recorded six albums and influenced many of the riot grrrl bands of the 1990s. L7 split in 2001 and reunited in 2014. The band's most recent album, Slap-Happy, was released in 1999.

At Irving Plaza tonight, L7’s performance was designed to relive its glory days, not break new ground. The 20-song set was firmly ground in the band's celebrated early 1990s, with only one song from the 1980s and one from L7's later years. The root of L7's music was an angry, primitive punk rock, but the reunited band's heavy riff-oriented guitar grind sounded polished, and the gang vocals even more spit-shined. Having long out-grown the primal garage band stage, the matured L7 was less radical and more suited for a wider audience. This was not about improved musicianship, however; the many questionable guitar solos still lacked mastery. The show pivoted on rallying anthems and the satisfying cool of nostalgic reunions (both within the band and among the fans). For all its bombastic rage and simple musical arrangements, the performance was a blast.

Visit L7 at www.l7theband.com.