Any night spent inside the walls of Chicago’s iconic Metro is going to be a good time, but when L7 is scheduled to headline, it is downright glorious. On Aug. 6, the quintessential grunge girl-group – comprised of Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch and Dee Plakas – delivered a relentless rock show full of fury, musical passion and a whole lotta love.

The recently-reunited foursome – who stole the show at last year’s Riot Fest & Carnival in Douglas Park – kicked-off their sold-out performance with “Deathwish,” off their masterful 1990 Sub Pop release, “Smell the Magic,” but it was the second song on the setlist, “Andres,” that grabbed fans by the throats. The unapologetic ferocity of each guitar riff offset Sparks’ scathing cries of “I’m sorry,” across the track. Finch took control of the mic next for “Everglade” as Sparks and Gardner assaulted fans with their gritty guitars. Plakas’ heavy-hitting drums served as a steady foundation throughout the night, as she exuded fun and positivity amidst the raw rock destruction taking place at the front of the stage.

After almost 30 years of fandom, the crowd felt connected to L7 in a spiritual way reserved for true love in music. The powerful link between audience and performer was wordlessly exchanged during every moment of the blistering 90-minute set, each entity fully devoted to one another.

“Thank you Chicago for showing up tonight,” the group expressed mid-set before adding, “We missed you so bad it hurt.” Sparks – who grew up in Chicago – even took time for a South Side shoutout, specifically mentioning the landmark mall Evergreen Plaza.

L7’s cool girl swagger stole the spotlight during “One More Thing,” each carefully considered note piercing the atmosphere with defiant rebellion. “I Need,” which Finch declared her favorite L7 song, was played in honor of the bassist’s milestone 50th birthday, which occurred the previous night. The thumping intro and slow-burning menace of “Must Have More” led to one of the highlights of the concert as did a feedback fueled rendition of “Sh*tlist” that closed out the set. L7’s classic cover of Eddie & The Subtitles’ “American Society” initiated the encore, which climaxed with their mega-hit, “Pretend We’re Dead.”

Earlier in the night, the up-and-coming punk trio Radkey won the veteran rock crowd’s respect with a fierce opening performance. Tracks like “Glore” (the music video for which is outstanding) and the surfy, “Cat & Mouse,” revealed the group’s talent for songwriting, but their uncaged stage-presence stole the show. It’s only a matter of time before this band of brothers captivates the masses.

In the rock ‘n’ roll history books, L7 has never gotten the proper credit that they deserve for sparking the Riot Grrrl movement or for being an unflinching, authority-challenging kick-*ss rock band, but their impact continues to fuel fans with amazing music and unabashed rebellion, as proven by their Metro performance. Check out photos from L7’s show in Chicago above and keep up to date with all of the group’s upcoming tour dates and projects at

Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...

Leave a comment