SXSW Friday PM Pt. 2: Hole's Botoxed '90s Flashback

Categories: SXSW
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Jeff Miller
If you wanted the '90s delivered to your festival this week, you had two obvious choices: Stone Temple Pilots and Hole. And I'll give you one guess as to which toxic, tempermental frontperson had the nostalgia addicts lining up really early to see if she'd shine or offer a shit show. 

Spin's day party at Stubb's had Hole as its headliner, and people were crammed along the lawn and up into the balconies to see the botoxed (her face looked really screwy even from as far back in the sticks as I was standing) crazy-talker could pull off playing a show. And she could--if you could handle all the rambling about fighting and fucking between songs, and lower your expectations when her initial banshee howl got scratched enough that it came out more like a cough.  

Hole--these days Ms. Love and her backing band of boys with various fucking and babysitting skills, which we gleaned when she introduced them--opened with one of my favorite songs, "Pretty on the Inside." But the full-length editions of her material were saved for the new stuff and her power ballads, and her classic tune turned into a medley of "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Skinny Little Bitch." 

Love may be nutty but you still wouldn't want to fuck with her, that much was clear from her rants (about, randomly, Brett Michaels, among others) and the power she still infuses in both older songs ("Miss World") and some of her new stuff. A song she called "Samantha" contained the repeated assertion "People like you fuck people like me," and for anyone curious about who inspired the ditty, she ended it by yelling out comically, "Trent Reznor in 1995, stick that up your ass." 

Hole's chatty press magnet was non-stop with the pullquotes between songs, and her banter was funny for the most part. When she introduced the band, she said, "Hi guys, we're Hole. I didn't say a  big hole, I didn't say a little hole...I didn't say a big flopping vagina." Ok then. And she introduced a song she called "side 2 to 'Malibu'" as the tune that reminds her of "fucked up sex, where you punch someone."  

She definitely is fighting something still these days. Her ballady tunes, while lacking the snarl that made Hole such a force, showed a little of her inner struggle. "I never wanted to be the person you see," she sang, "I don't know who I am." And she wants that fame back so badly, she talked up her wishy-washy tune "Honey" as the song that's gonna be so all over the radio we'll soon be sick of it. (Jury's still out there).  

Around her the crowd was mostly feeding back on Love's comic/tragic energy. Near me, four women who looked like they could have been in a band like Hole in the early '90s (they even had the nose rings, the colored hair that came in bright red and skunk stripes) were cheering on every song being played.  

But the end of her set showed the division Love still stirs up in rock fans. As she walked off the stage, a dude behind me yelled out, "You killed Nirvana, bitch!" while the girl next to him yelled, "Yeah Courtney! I love you!"

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