Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Show #235: L7 in Madison

April 13th, 2011

l7 mad92 Show #235: L7 in Madison
(Photo found here.)

I have to admit that I don’t know squat about L7. The reason I went with them here is that I recently read something about the Riot Grrrl movement. Whatever it was (it might have been an interview with Jessica Hopper, author of The Girls’ Guide to Rocking) obviously didn’t make a huge impression on me since I can’t recall just what I’d read, but it got me thinking.

My memory tells me that I read the mysterious article around the same time that The Onion’s Steven Hayden was in the middle of his epic look back at 90s music which is called “Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation?”. While I found Hayden’s retrospective to be interesting, I didn’t listen to many of the bands about which he writes. In fact, Nirvana is probably the only one – at least at the time. So there was this confluence of things that I was reading about a time in which I was alive and very much into music but about bands and trends to which I either mostly ignored intentionally (“alternative”) or was completely – or nearly so – oblivious to (Riot Grrrl).

I spent most of the 90s in direct opposition to the notion that Kurt Cobain represented anything other than a guy in a band as well as the proclamations the we Generation Xers could all be easily summarized with a few pithy lines in a Time magazine article. And I probably would have warmed to punk sooner had I not been subjected to people who usually spent an inordinate amount of time coifing their hair and dressing to make sure that everyone knew just how alternative they were. It was these types both in person and in the media who constantly made the Marxist argument that punk was an unmediated expression of working class anger and thusly more legitimate than other music. For these types, having an album on Sub Pop was a badge of authenticity while having a major label like EMI distributing your music was a sign of having lost one’s working class creds. The funny part is that such viewpoints were usually espoused by people from the middle class.

Looking back at the 1990s I can see just how my taste in music changed. I began the decade listening to mostly classic and progressive rock. Over the next 2 or 3 years blues, a bit of jazz, a few jam bands, metal, and a smidgeon of grunge got added. By the middle of the decade I’d taken to a little bit of rap, delved into classical, and warmed to some of the more popular alternative rock acts. But as the year 2000 approached, I was busy with country, alt-country, bluegrass, more blues, American Southern folk music. By my mid-20s I had largely outgrown the teenage tendency to use music as a way to pigeonhole people into cliques and basically stopped listening to critics and supposed spokespeople of my generation when they talked about how people my age were represented by this or that band. Instead I just got on with the business of listening to the music I enjoyed and poking around for new tunes.

By this time, though, it was too late. I’d let a lot of great music pass me by. I guess that’s why I am posting this L7 show. An acknowledgement that I wasn’t paying attention then but that I am now. Being a music fan sometimes feels like playing a perpetual game of catch-up.

This show was recorded here in Madison on 1 July 1992. The venue is known but I’d guess it was at O’Cayz Corral or Club D. Any locals remember?

She’s A Lost Cause
(Right On) Thru
Enter Sandman (jam)
Diet Pill
Freak Magnet
Mr. Integrity
Just Like Me
Pretend We’re Dead
Fast And Frightening
American Society
‘Till The Wheels Fall Off

Download show


This is “Shitlist” live in Rio de Janeiro from 1993.

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