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Growled Lang Syne

DONITA SPARKS at Spaceland, December 31Executing one of the most perfectly timed entrances in rock-show history, ex-L7 tigress Donita Sparks, resplendent in chrome bullet belt and freshly peroxided shag cut, took to the stage with literally 15 seconds till midnight as her band and a good-size audience — complimentary flutes of Asti Spumante in hand — counted off the remaining ticks of 2005.As a rule, shanty-Irish standards like “Auld Lang Syne” should be played only at Dropkick Murphys shows, but Sparks’ gimlet-eyed grunginess tempered the opener’s sentimentality. The ensuing material, all new stuff except for the L7 classic “Deathwish,” was a potent reminder that L7 was largely Sparks’ band: The metal-tinged minor-key riffage and sleepy growl are ingrained in her musical DNA. (Compare with ex-bandmate Jennifer Finch’s new vehicle, the Shocker.)That’s not to say Sparks doesn’t have some new tricks up her thrift-store sleeves. The cautionary tale “Curtains for Cathy,” a fusion of Edward Gorey–style dark comedy with grrrl-group politics, is sheer genius. Even when she was treating her vocals with cheesy-yet-cool vibrato effects, La Sparks was as castratingly fierce as ever.Sparks’ reticence — save for an outburst about 2006 being the year we send the assholes in Washington packing — stood in stark contrast to past stunts like extracting a tampon and chucking it at the audience (Reading Festival, ’92). But it’s been a long year, with recording, TV and radio appearances and even some indie-film scoring. So after a quick encore, rock’s baddest bitch went home to pretend she was dead.


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