Review: The New Hampshire

Hole Rocks Half-Packed Whittemore Arena
by Jay Brown

After a large mix-up with press and photo passes, I entered the Whittemore Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 2 ready for what I hoped was going to be a great concert. I do not consider myself to be the biggest Hole fan, but I know a few of their more popular hits. For this reason, I brought along Kryste Narkunas, my all-knowing Hole advisor, without whom I would have been lost.

This concert was one of the first destinations in Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” tour. This new album is much different from others that Hole has put out.

“It is more refined,” says Narkunas. “Like they took more time with each of their songs.” She added that there were more harmonies. All of Hole’s efforts were to achieve their goal of making this CD more radio-friendly, according to Narkunas.

“It is to show people that they have intelligence,” she said.

The arena was pretty empty before the concert even started, and not many people came in before Hole took the stage. Fans had their fingers crossed as they walked into the arena hoping to see the likes of Garbage, who opened for Hole the day before at the Orpheum in Boston. Tickets didn’t reveal any information except that the opening band was a “special guest.”

Concert goers, myself included, were disappointed when instead of seeing Garbage’s Shirley Manson on stage, they saw three guitarists and a drummer, the members of a band called Come.

“It is c-o-m-e,” explained one band member. The crowd was unresponsive to Come until objects ranging from crumpled paper to ice cream cups were chucked at the stage. These acts were followed by the crowd signaling thumbs-down and chanting for “Hole!”

Melissa Auf der Maur, Eric Erlandson, Courtney Love and new drummer Samantha Maloney – the band members of Hole – took the stage while screams and howls echoed from the near-empty arena.

Almost instantly, the band kicked into “Celebrity Skin,” their new album’s title track. I bought the CD before going to the concert to see what to expect, and it definitely didn’t compare to hearing the song live. The song follows the new methods of the band incorporating voice-overs and harmonies, explains Narkunas.

Love took the opportunity to talk to the audience between songs. She is known for flashing audiences on a routine basis, and she explained what the police told her before the show.

“The police told me that there were a lot of rapes on this campus,” she said. “And if I flash you, they said that there will be an increase.” Unpleased audience members begged and pleaded to no avail.

Love was mildly angered that the arena was so empty, “but I will be humble,” she said. The audience consisted of what appeared to be high-schoolers decked out in gothic apparel, as well as a few people over 40. Few college-age students were present in the crowd that only filled half the floor.

The band left the stage after about an hour of playing. They were chased by a series of boos before they had even reached the wings.

Love turned around, stepped up to the microphone, and said, “You’re not supposed to get angry! You are supposed to ask for an encore!” before rocking into “Everything,” a well-known song from an earlier album.

“I can’t believe I am giving you what you want,” she joked.

After a few more songs it seemed that the show was finally over when Hole actually made it off the stage. The crowd was not going to give up and go home easily, though, and cried for the band they had come to see.

Erlandson and Love returned to the stage to perform yet another encore, while Auf de Maur and Maloney watched in the background.

The last song the band played was “Into Your Arms,” a tune that made the Lemon Heads popular.

After the house lights came up and the audience dispersed, I took one last look around before leaving. Walking side by side with Narkunas, my “advisor,” I walked out of the arena slightly deafened, but content, and certainly a bigger Hole fan than I was before.