CAMBRIDGE - The club might have been half empty, but Donita Sparks was clearly there to put on a show. Perhaps not the notorious display that her old all-girl punk-grunge quartet L7 notched up in the early 1990s. But as she strutted onstage like a prizefighter, fist raised in salute, Sparks seemed determined to prove herself far more than an infamous punk rock brat.
With L7 on indefinite hiatus, Sparks recently issued what amounts to her first solo record, "Transmiticate," a deliciously danceable rock set credited to Donita Sparks and the Stellar Moments. For the show she was joined by former L7 drummer Dee Plakas, who looked sharp in a white-on-black polka-dot shirt paired with an azure tie, complete with a fancy clip.
Sparks looked more the LA rocker grrl, with wild blond hair, spangled vest, and scarf-belted low-slung jeans skirting her skinny hips. For more than an hour, she was barely still. She shimmied, head-banged, high-kicked, pogoed, and go-go danced at every opportunity. Even when she stood at the microphone to sing, her eyes darted seductively and her fingers waggled playfully. She took great delight in the songs, soaking up guitarist Alan Santalesa's brilliant riffs.
Sparks cooed coyly through the gorgeous summery pop number "Fly Feather Fly" and blasted though L7's punk-metal "Deathwish" and "Pretend We're Dead," before shooting out a bristling cover of Missing Persons' "Walking in LA" as a finale. Her vocal range may be limited, but her expressiveness was expansive. All the while, she seemed to relish the fact that she could make eye contact with just about everyone in the scant but fully engaged audience.