Review: SonicNet

Hole Play After-Hours Show at L.A. Club
December 14, 1998, by Teri vanHorn

Set at Roxy followed Friday night appearance at ‘Almost Acoustic Christmas’ festival at Shrine.

LOS ANGELES — Hole played a surprise doubleheader here over the weekend, including a rare club gig that gave about 500 lucky fans a chance to experience outrageous frontwoman Courtney Love up close and personal.

After joining thrashers Korn, punk-rockers Offspring and other bands at the Shrine Auditorium for the first night of KROQ-FM’s two-night, “Almost Acoustic Christmas” festival Friday, the punk-pop band moved to the Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip for an unannounced, after-hours set the following morning.

“It was the best time we’ve had in, like, 10 years,” guitarist Eric Erlandson said after the latter show.

Fans tipped off to the unplanned performance paid less than $10 for a ticket and began packing the Roxy shortly after midnight. Many had learned about the club show when Love made the announcement during the Shrine performance. The club holds about 500 people; the Shrine, in comparison, seats 6,000.

“It was super cool. I got to see Hole twice in one night,” Angela Doyle, 18, who caught both gigs, said. “This one was better, though. Courtney was a lot more open and closer — she was kind-of snotty at the Shrine — and here they played better songs and more songs.”

If it were up to Hole’s frontwoman, more people would have had the chance to enjoy the rare club gig.

About mid-set, the club’s side door swung open, revealing about a dozen fans stuck outside. Love urged them to gate-crash the show. “Chaos is good,” she said, jumping up and down. But the club’s security force had the door slammed shut within seconds.

Hole took the stage just after 1:30 a.m., and began with “Pretty on the Inside,” the enraged-punk title track to their 1991 debut album. Then they played a roughed-up version of “Heaven Tonight,” a love song from their latest release, Celebrity Skin.

In case anyone missed the point in juxtaposing the songs, Love told the audience: “See, there’s no difference between those two songs. That was a lesson.”

Love wore a low-cut, long, black leather dress, glitter on her face and shiny decorations in her blond locks for the two-hour performance. And despite a more intimate atmosphere, her dynamic take-charge and often contradictory nature was in full bloom, whether she was scolding an unruly fan or blaming Erlandson for a musical mistake she actually made.

Only after thoroughly chewing him out did she admit that the fault was her own.

Actor Edward Norton, with whom Love has been romantically linked, accompanied the band on guitar for three tunes. Earlier, at the Shrine, he joined Hole for an acoustic version of the single “Malibu.”

“Like we need another boy on this stage,” Love said as she watched Norton, in a black T-shirt and black pants, take his position behind her at the Roxy. Love told the crowd he had won a contest to play with Hole.

Norton played “Malibu” again at the club, and remained onstage for the B-side, “Beautiful Son,” and the new album’s “Boys on the Radio.”

“It seemed like he really could play,” Janese Nelson, 20, said. “He’s an awesome actor, but maybe he should quit acting and join Hole.”

Love ended the show by tossing her guitar into the crowd — a new habit that seems to have replaced her ritual of plunging herself into the crowd. But as fans fought over the instrument, Erlandson and some stagehands retrieved it.

Then they picked a female fan and, swapping the original guitar for a pink one with the word “Dork” written on it, presented her with the prize.

“I had to throw beer on a guy to get it back,” Erlandson said. “But Courtney likes a girl to get the guitar.”