Review: The New York Times

Courtney Love and Hole Look Back in Anger
September 23, 1994, by Jon Pareles

“I am the girl you know, the one that should have died,” Courtney Love sang when her band, Hole, performed on Wednesday night at the Academy. Those changed lyrics in “Miss World” half-acknowledged what the audience knew: that Ms. Love is the widow of Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s leader, who killed himself in April. But Ms. Love won’t be the Yoko Ono of alternative rock, mourning with the fans. She’s sticking to the punk paradigm, turning anger into noise. Songs she wrote before Cobain’s death have taken on more meanings than she knew.

Ms. Love arrived on stage as a punk antiheroine in spike heels and bleached-blond hair, wearing a white, sliplike dress and balancing her guitar between her legs. She tossed dolls into the audience, for “girls only.” In a Hollywood touch, the actress Drew Barrymore, now dating the band’s guitarist Eric Erlandson, appeared from the wings. Later, Ms. Love displayed her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.

The music was fierce, exploding from restrained verses to vehement choruses. Ms. Love’s lyrics career through a sexual battleground, where women are buffeted between trying to please and trying to survive, where lovers seduce and attack each other and where nothing is certain. Motherhood isn’t tranquil, and death is never far away: “All my friends are embryonic/All my friends are dead and gone,” she snarled in “Gutless.”

At the Academy, Hole’s songs balanced fury, defiance and craft like the best punk-rock. After the set, Ms. Love jumped into the crowd, a brave move for a vulnerable woman. After long minutes, she was returned to the stage and tottered to her feet for a farewell glance and smirk.

Hole was part of a CMJ Music Marathon quadruple bill.