“Just shut up and fuck me, damn it!” is a great opening line for a music documentary. This command came from one L7 member to another while they were in their vehicle, in an attempt to shock a passersby. The scene encapsulates the LA grunge band’s devil-may-care attitude and hunger for attention. The rest of Sarah Price’s L7: Pretend We’re Dead follows music-doc conventions—interviews with members, band photos, music and more music, testimonials from fellow musicians, concert footage, between-show tour montages, etc.—to portray this pioneering, all-women grunge band’s rise-fall-rise trajectory.
Coming out of Los Angeles’ mid-’80s punk and metal scenes, L7—Donita Sparks Dee Plakas, Suzi Gardner, and Jennifer Finch—scrapped their way to a Sub Pop Single of the Month (“Shove”/“Packin’ a Rod”), thence to a major label, thence to world tours, huge festival appearances, multiple magazine covers (when that meant something), and inane Q&As by clueless TV show hosts by sheer dint of their ability to rock hard and catchily.
Unlike many female-centric rock groups on big labels, L7 didn’t care about looking pretty. They just wanted to transfer their prodigious energy and power to crowds, and have a pro-feminist blast doing it. That they did for the first half of the ’90s. And then all the partying (including with Nick Cave at Lollapalooza), disgruntled bassists, and dwindling record sales caught up with L7 and their career petered out. Pathetically, CDs of their self-released last album, 1999’s Slap-Happy, had to be dumped in a landfill because the band’s distributor couldn’t afford to ship unsold copies from NYC to LA.
After a 15-year hiatus, though, overwhelming fan demand—spurred by social media, of course—swayed L7 to reunite and play sold-out shows worldwide. Roll credits, exit theater, feel good.
To see the more information about this rocking doc with a happy ending, visit Movie Times.