Fan Review: Steve


…..Hole were next-to-last on the schedule. There was a gap in the music at dusk when the others had finished and the stage was being set up for Hole. As night fell it was still very warm but now more bearable. Although Sonic Youth were the headliners, there was just as much excitement about Hole. I had liked Nirvana a lot, and Live Through This was already one of my favorite albums.

Melissa took her place at the left and Eric at the right, from our point of view. Courtney wore the black nightie thing and old-fashioned garter-type stockings, as you can see in this pic. She had a fan blowing on her at least part of the time – seemingly for the hair effect rather than cooling. She frequently put her foot up on the stage monitor, especially while playing guitar. I got the impression that this was partly habit, partly comfort, and partly to provoke the audience. Her nice legs were on view right up to her black panties. (At this time I didn’t realize that she always wore outfits like this – I thought it was just for this show.)

The songs were almost all from Live Through This (I would not have recognized any from earlier discs, and there were few if any unfamiliar ones). And most of those who crowded up toward the stage knew and loved most of the songs they played. Musically, Hole were loose, not playing album-perfect versions but not really doing anything very different either. Above all it was exciting to see the band members up close and hear the songs live.

What I remember most (though not enough of it!) is Courtney’s banter. She talked between songs and sometimes over intros. This will be very incomplete, and my paraphrases here will be very approximate.

They had some dolls onstage. They looked like the ones in the album art. Courtney explained that some relative of hers had invented that type of doll and made and sold them; or had invented some sort of doll part and made a fortune, – or something like that. She held up one of the dolls while talking about it and maybe threw some into the crowd. This must have been when they played “Doll Parts”. It didn’t make any more sense then than it does now.

At one point Courtney ranted angrily about someone she referred to by name. This may have been Jason someone, whose name I’ve seen in other articles about Clove.

At the beginning of one song – maybe “Olympia” – Courtney and Eric both started playing the opening chords, and she stopped and acted as if she was annoyed at him and said, “I can play the song, Eric – I wrote it!” or something similar. I couldn’t tell whether it was spontaneous or another part of her act (hmm, is there any difference with Courtney?). She played only minor guitar parts in most of the songs.

Jerry Garcia had died that day. Gretchen and I had caught the news, but many in the audience had not heard. Courtney announced it, and thus many in the crowd heard it from her first. It was obvious that a majority knew who he was and were sad at the news. She briefly referred to her connection with the Grateful Dead. (She did not explain this connection, but I later read about it: her “bio-dad” hung out with the Dead in their early days, and supposedly sold them drugs. A young Courtney appears in the photo on the back of the Aoxomoxoa album.) She seemed to have mixed feelings, which I later understood: while she admired the great Jerry Garcia, he was associated in her mind with her “bio-dad”. The moon was up in the sky and Courtney pointed at it and said something about seeing Jerry Garcia and Kurt in the moon, or both of them being up there.

I wish I could remember more of Courtney’s ramblings, or capture their style. She is voluble, articulate and highly emotional, brilliant but unfocused. She free-associated from one topic to another, going from anger to sadness to snarky humor, and carried the audience along with her emotionally all the way.

Many people left after the Hole set. It seemed that Hole and Sonic Youth had somewhat different sets of fans, though there was plenty of overlap….