Live Concert Photography: L7 with Le Butcherettes at Elsewhere 5/31/19
Currently comprised of founding members Donita Sparks (vocals, guitar) and Suzi Gardner (guitar, vocals) along with Jennifer Finch (bass) and Demetra Plakas (drums), the acclaimed and pioneering, Los Angeles-based grunge act L7 can trace their origins back to 1985, a full year after Gardner had contributed backing vocals to Black Flag‘s “Slip It In.”
Once Sparks and Gardner formed the band, they were added by Finch and Roy Koutsky (drums). Koutsky left shortly after and was briefly replaced by Anne Anderson (drums) in 1988. After Anderson left the band, Plakas became the band’s permanent drummer. Although they formed Rock for Choice, a pro-choice women’s rights group that was supported by the likes of Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Rage Against the Machine, they’re best known for their third album, 1992’s Butch Vig-produced Bricks Are Heavy, which featured their seminal track (and smash hit) “Pretend We’re Dead.” “Pretend We’re Dead” spent 13 weeks on the US Alternative Charts, peaking at #8 and reached #21 on the UK Singles Chart.
After the release of 1994’s Hungry for Stink, which was supported by that year’s Lollapalooza tour with Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders, the band went through a number of lineup changes: Finch left the band during the recording of 1997’s The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, an album that featured bass playing by Sparks and Greta Brinkman; however, Belly‘s Gail Greenwood joined the band.
1999’s Slap-Happy didn’t chart on either side of the Atlantic, and sometime after the release of that album, the Los Angeles-based grunge band went through yet another lineup changes with Greenwood leaving the band to be replaced by Stone Fox’s Janis Tanaka, who later played bass in Pink‘s and Bif Naked‘s backing bands.
By 2001, the members of L7 weren’t touring and were on an indefinite hiatus. During that time Sparks formed a new band, Donita Sparks and The Stellar Moments while Finch was a member of punk rock act The Shocker. Simultaneously during that period, Sparks was working on a documentary on the band, which was rumored to have a 2014 release date. And interestingly enough, by the end of 2014 the band announced that they would reuniting featuring the lineup with which they achieved their biggest success — Sparks, Gardner, Finch and Plakas.
The reunited L7 toured Europe and North America with a number of stops across the international circuit in 2015 including Germany’s Rock am Ring, Riot Fest stops in Denver and Chicago, and Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Festival. The Sarah Price-directed L7 documentary, L7: Pretend We’re Dead was released in 2016 while the band was on a busy tour schedule throughout both 2016 and 2017.
Building upon the growing buzz surrounding the reunited band, the members of the Los Angeles-based grunge outfit released “Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago,” their first new song in almost 18 years in September 2017. They followed that up with “I Came Back to Bitch,” which was released in February 2018. The band’s recently released seventh album Scatter the Rats is the first album from the Los Angeles-based grunge outfit in 20 years and from album singles “Burn Baby” and “Stadium West,” the new album is sort of a return to form: scuzzy and distorted power chords, thunderous drumming, snarled lyrics and rousingly anthemic hooks. And interestingly enough, both singles reveal that the members of L7 have had a massive influence on contemporary indie rock — you can hear L7’s influence in the work of JOVM mainstays The Coathangers, Sharkmuffin, Dream Wife and others.
The members of L7 went on a tour to support Scatter the Rats that included two NYC area dates at Elsewhere with Los Angeles-based punk sensations Le Butcherettes. I caught L7 and Le Butcherette on the first night of their two-night run. Check out photos from the show below.
Founded in 2007 by Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico-born, Los Angeles-based Teri Gender Bender (vocals, guitars), the acclaimed punk rock Le Butcherettes expanded into a duo when Bender recruited Auryn Jolene (drums). As a duo, the act began to receive attention across the Mexican underground scene for a lie show that featured 1950s fashions and props like brooms, feather dusters and bloody aprons, directly referring to women being slaves. Additionally, Bender was known to use fake blood, flour, eggs, meet and even a real pig’s head while performing. The band won Best New Artist and Best Punk Record Awards at the 2009 Indie-O Awards and shortly after, Jolene left the band due to disagreements in creative direction. Bender relocated to Los Angeles, where she recruited Normandi Heuxdalfo (drums). Building on a growing profile, the band played Monterrey’s Hellow Fest and opened for The Dead Weather and Yeah Yeah Yeahs in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City. Le Bucherette’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez produced full-length debut, Sin Sin Sin was released through Rodriguez-Lopez’s label in 2011. The band toured the States with Deftones and The Dillinger Escape Plan with a new lineup of Bender, The Locust’s Gabe Serbian and Jonathan Hischke (bass). A few years later, they toured Europe with Mars Volta and North America with Rodriguez-Lopez’s Antemasque. 2015 saw the release of Le Butcherette’s Rodriguez-Lopez-produced sophomore album A Raw Youth, an album that featured guest appearances from John Frusciante and Iggy Pop. Interestingly, the band’s latest album bi/Mental was released earlier this year and the they’ve been touring to support the new effort.