Review: Rock & Folk

July 1995
by Alexis Bernier

English translation. Click here to read it in French.

Farenheit 451, the Bataclan is sweating. Hole will soon enter the scene. Two huge industrial fans stir up the unbreathable air, trying to cool the atmosphere. A waste of time, cotton sticks to the skin of the Parisian Generation X. Pierced face, dyed or bleached hair, we are waiting for Courtney Love, the rock Mary Magdalene, the Holy Whore of grunge. Here she is, in a fifties school dress, square collar with white flowers, garter belts and black stockings. One foot on the back, legs apart, the Fender hiding her intimacies, she attacks “Violet” and already kicks this photographer who wanted to try the “beaver shot,” as she says, the gynecological shot. Stoic, the rest of the troupe, let slip a bituminous, fat and heavy sound like Grand Funk Railroad. There is however something to shudder when, in the darkness torn by strobe flashes, their heroine, at the end of her tether, spits out “Gutless.” They are used to it, not us, the great moments of metal are rare. Courtney, glued to the microphone, body forward, defies the whole earth, disfigured with anger, then closes her eyes and sings, sad, lost, childish. Doctor Hole & Mrs. Love. In a sweat, literally, she suddenly takes pity on her fans stuck in a furnace that her volcanic performance has raised by a few degrees. She imposes the break and sprinkles the front rows with mineral water then conscientiously empties the contents of several bottles on her head before continuing “Miss World.” The concert suddenly turns on repeat. She comes to correct the sound of Eric Erlandson, her favorite whipping boy, then goes back to spray us. As if to take revenge, Eric throws out the riff of “She Lost Control Again” and the band launches into this quickly aborted cover of Joy Division. Failures that harm the musical cohesion of the gig but, in return, what a show, what a show, what a “Metallic KO.” Silence, the others have left. Alone, Courtney, with a breath, announces: “I wrote this song with my husband.” And 500 people sing “Pennyroyal Tea” with her.

Reconstituted, Hole goes back on stage to end in noise delirium. The muse has changed. In stretch slip, a delicately pudgy erotic Madonna, she communicates on her knees with the first rows that reach out to touch the star. Everything is nothing more than feedback, buzzing and hissing, unbearable sound explosions and din of a battery in which comes to collapse the crucified body of a psychotic singer. She gets up, staggers, slips into a pool of water and sweat, sits up and crashes! Still on the ground with the four irons in the air.

Pathetic as well as divine. Touching like a baby taking its first steps or a junkie that out of love we would follow to the bottom of the hole. The end? No. In the street, cries hook us, the star has opened a window and is methodically throwing away all the contents of her dressing room. Cans, bottles, food and as we want more, picks, T-shirts and some panties. The impasse is quickly blocked, neighbors come out in a panic, the crowd screams when the most daring try to climb the gutter, unleashing a French kiss on the delighted star screaming: “I am Marie-Antoinette.” Their hilarious idol now opens her bathrobe and offers her breasts to the fury of the bouncers. “Hey hey, my my, rock & roll will never die.”