Whether you classify L7 as heavy-metal, punk, or grunge, I doubt you’d question the inclusion of L7 in Women-Who-Rocktober. When it came to rocking out, the ladies of L7 had the look, they had the sound, and they definitely weren’t lacking for attitude. Not only was their music loud, abrasive, and outspoken, but L7 weren’t afraid to ruffle features and rub people the wrong way with their actions.
At 1992’s Reading Festival, guitarist and vocalist, Donita Sparks, contributed to what has been described as the one of the “most unsanitary pieces of rock memorabilia in history” when – in response to the crowd slinging mud at the stage following a delay due to technical problems – removed and threw her tampon at the audience, and in 1999 – again, in England – the band raffled a one-night stand with drummer, Demetra Plakas, during at a gig. A video of, and discussing, the incidents can be found here, though it should be noted the comments/criticisms are notably at the shallow end of the spectrum.
Through their music and actions, L7 challenged the double standards that exist(ed) around what was expected and acceptable from male and female musician’s and performers, with Sparks dropping her pants mid-performance live on TV while performing Pretend We’re Dead. The band’s outspoken politics wasn’t confined to controversial acts though, as in 1991 the band founded Rock for Choice, a pro-choice women’s rights group that was supported by many prominent grunge/alternative acts.
For their role in promoting women’s rights, women in rock, and their enduring influence on musicians who have themselves gone on to be of great influence, it is hardly surprising that L7 is the subject of an upcoming documentary, L7: Pretend We’re Dead. It’s just a little surprising that it’s taken so long for the documentary to be made.