Not Just the Ticket — #45, L7, May 22, 1992

L7, Palace

Then-current album: Bricks Are Heavy

Opening act: …completely blanking on this one.

Back of ticket ad: Why yes KLSX is once again there. Eternally.

I can’t recall if I had mentioned it before but thinking about an L7 show, any L7 show, with this Ticketmaster color scheme as the visual association to hand is kinda ridiculous. Which is why I’ll use this YouTube clip from the very show in question of them doing “Packin’ a Rod” instead, which I found not two minutes before starting to write this:

So with that as a way to start thinking about things…

By now, if you’ve been following the whole series here, you’ll have read my previous thoughts on seeing L7 various times over the previous year and a half, as their reputation kept building, as they made the step to the majors, as they helped organize the Rock for Choice shows and organization, how they helped suddenly crystallize a sheer ‘ARRRGH’ with the state of things and a lot of the annoying people contributing to them in 1992. At least, for me, and for my somewhat limited way of looking at things.

I say limited not just because of my age and how I was understanding the world still and all, though that was a facet. I say that because of something that had happened a few weeks prior to this show — the verdict in the trial of the policemen accused of beating Rodney King and the results of it.

The Los Angeles riots were something that you could almost feel coming once the verdict came out — I was actually at KLA at the time and remember one of my fellow DJs pretty much predicting it was all about to go down. Within a few hours, that much was clear. But it was something that I sensed from a distance, via TV and its mediating influence, its own ability to shape events consciously or unconsciously, with its own built in biases. The closest I got to it, perched over in Westwood, safe in my apartment, was running into somebody a few days after it started who said he’d been caught up in it and had lost his wallet, needing a few bucks just to get by for a day or two. For all I know he was pulling the wool over my eyes, but I gave him some cash because it seemed like the least I could do.

Point was, of course, for all my simmering dissatisfaction and wanting something, anything, to give a bit, seeing it give that way helped make me realize how lucky I had it in general — a little perspective never hurts. Of course, recognizing that didn’t make the dissatisfaction go away, it just put it into a new context and provided a salient reminder that I was living in a city where I wasn’t going to need to worry about a militarized police force pulling some crap on me because of my genetic background and amount of melanin in my skin, for a start.

I’ll have more to say about the impact of those days in a future entry, but no doubt they were coloring my mind still at this point three weeks or so after the worst of it — it wasn’t like it was sitting completely on my head (otherwise I wouldn’t be quite so jocular with my memories of the Blur show preceding this one at the same venue), but as the presidential campaign crept forward and things started to take a different sort of shape with the entry of H. Ross Perot, as I found myself fully committed to moving to Orange County (Orange County! someplace I had barely been in and which everyone had told me to avoid!) for grad school, as everything seemed to accelerate to something different all around for me on a personal and a wider level, I probably was oscillating between wanting a little more chaos and a lot less in equal amounts. L7, at least, knew how to soundtrack the wishes for both, while always sounding like angry chaos was one of the best things around when it came to expressing irritation.

By this time Suzi Gardner had gotten over the terrible injury from earlier in the year when filming the “Pretend We’re Dead” video and was much more in fighting form, as per the video above, and so whoever I went with to this show — Steve M., Kris C., Jason B.? Perhaps? — and I were expecting to see that. I think part of me had to be excited as well to see L7 in…well, not THE biggest venue they’d played to that point, but the biggest for an event they were headlining and were doing not as a part of a larger benefit or bill. It was all them and it was a well-deserved sign that they were starting to click for a larger crowd in general. I was all amped up for something big, and I got it.

Yet this is another show where the memories are a big smear, a blur that doesn’t fully resolve, kind of like that video clip up above. For one thing, up to now I’ve been pretty good at remembering opening acts even when they weren’t listed on the ticket but I have NO idea who opened for this show. I keep clutching at straws a bit but nothing is fully sparking off, and there’s no immediate show listing I can find online to give me a further prompt. For a half second I thought it was the Nymphs, who I did see at the Palace once, but I remember now it was the Redd Kross show they opened for earlier that year I was thinking of. So there’s a total, total blank at work in mind on this one. I guess they weren’t all that memorable, whoever they were.

But L7 were memorable, not least because of the psuedo-Mafia guy who introduced them. Not sure entirely what his business was, might have been a friend of the band’s playing up an image, maybe he worked for the venue. Maybe he was just some guy. I just remember some dude with a suit and a hat coming out and going “Let’s hear it for LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL-777777777777777777777777!” He did that later around the time of the encore as well, and if nothing else he did get the crowd going pretty well.

This wasn’t the last time I was going to see L7 but it was the last time I would see them relatively up close — I wasn’t anywhere near the front of the stage this time, though. Having done that for Blur the week before and gotten legs and feet landing on my head for my pains, I reasoned the pit would be way worse for this show, not too surprisingly the case. I do remember feeling a little amused at seeing a couple of dudes in the pit acting like the very type of person the band were trashing in the song “Everglade,” which sounded great that night. “Pretend We’re Dead” was even more of a total anthem, and even an obscurer number like their cover of the Fiends’ “Packin’ a Rod,” as you can see above, was nothing less than full-on.

Two to one says that Donita or someone else in the band had some sharp, to the point things to say about the current state of the world, and of the city, at points throughout the show. It would have been only reflective of the time, and it would have been necessary and good to hear. There’s nothing like a pointed reminder, as noted.