Review: The Times-Picayune

Love Hurts: Tantrums Better Than the Tunes
November 4, 1994, by Scott Aiges

As a low-camp phenomenon, Courtney Love makes bitchiness a high art. It would be nice if she did the same with her music.

At the Rendon Inn last Saturday, Love and her able band Hole ground through sludgy anthems that were stunning in their monotony. Her sing-song, nursery rhyme-like tunes were enlivened only by sharp contrasts in intensity. But whether she was roaring in a chilling scream or plaintively whispering in innocent falsetto, the show wasn’t in her songs.

It was her between-song antics that kept one’s attention. Every time she finished a number – all note-for-note recreations of the recorded versions – the packed house greeted her with stony indifference. That infuriated Love.

“I hate you all,” she screamed in one of several tantrums. Grabbing for yet another cigarette, she demanded, “I need a light!” She doused the crowd with water, threw a catering tray at them and generally punished her listeners for being there.

Love’s record sales have never matched her celebrity as the widow of grunge god Kurt Cobain. People came to gawk, and they got what they came for. If the theater of her show is her interaction with the crowd, she played her Cher-like role to a fault. She thanked someone for tossing a pill onstage, then swallowed it.

Love has her own act: playing on rock’s confused machismo by using her guitar as a phallic symbol, and as a weapon to bash her own gear at the show’s anticlimax. But she relied on Cobain’s memory for sympathy. Looking to the sky, she moaned, “I know why you left.” At another point, she all but conceded defeat: “I wrote that one with Kurt,” she said after a song, “but I didn’t tell you first because you’d pretend to like it.”

At best, Love gives her audience gossip. She left the stage with an announcement delivered like a taunt: “Oh, by the way, I’m pregnant.” Earlier, she asked, “If I move to New Orleans, you all won’t come around my house and bug me, will you?” Doubt it.