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"LIKE WATCHING YOUR SISTER STRIP FOR A STAG PARTY": THE SPIN REVIEW

Spin Magazine
November, 1994


HOLE
Nautica Stage, Cleveland, Ohio
August 29, 1994
PALE ARMS OUTSTRETCHED, OFFERING HERSELF UP
for crucifixion, or a pie in the face, or a big hug, Courtney Love exclaimed, "Fuck with me, fuck with me. It's the only thing I like!" The audience members, who had been standing in a snaking, endless line with visions of Trent moshing in their dyed-black dread heads, murmured. A few hoots. A desultory heckle. We were only three songs into Hole's first American show . . . and already the ride was getting bumpy.

Nobody wanted to play Love's co-dependent game of "I'm rubber, you're glue, fuck you." The few Hole fans - high-school girls huddled together to the right of the mosh pit - were simply awestruck. Everybody else acted like the band's appearance must be a gesture of mercy. Few seemed familiar with the album Live Through This. and the setting, a concrete outdoor amphitheater in a riverfront development mallplex, only further deadened the atmosphere. There was no moment of silence for Kurt, as there had been at Lollapalooza in Philadelphia. Just silent curiosity as Love sauntered onstage, wearing a black car-coat and carrying a small black handbag.

Hole immediately roared into "Beautiful Son," a punk rant about how great Cobain looked in a dress, and how moms are the biggest starfuckers. Mid-song, Love quit playing guitar and took off her coat with a flourish, revealing a gray, clingy top, gray minidress, and gray stockings that stopped mid-thigh. The band lurched a bit, but her voice quickly regained its raging wail and the high-school girls pogoed madly.

Unfortunatley, it turned out to be a promising opening to a sordidly sad B-movie. After the feedback subsided, Love nervously blurted out, "You know, I punched a guy on the plane." The crowd tittered, confused. Love wandered away from the mike. "Miss World" was a tentative, raggedy mess, and when she changed the coda from, "I am the girl you know/Can't look you in the eye" to "I am the girl you want/So sick that I'll just die," it was obvious that she was not just nerve-wracked, but wracked in general.

Playing so little that the soundman eventually turned her down and cranked up impassive guitarist Eric Erlandson, Love looked totally lost. She frantically took off her stockings during "Jennifer's Body," and after "Asking for It," cried out pitifully, "Where are my boots?" With neither Erlandson nor new bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, a timid 22-year-old from Montreal, able to take up the slack, Hole came off like a skinny-tie bar band fronted by Nancy Spungeon.

The crowd got increasingly impatient, but Love staggered on. "So, you guys wanna talk to me for awhile? Trent'll be out here in a minute with his black rubber, so why don't you guys just talk to me, go ahead." Waiting for a tragicomic rimshot, she added, "How many of you have read Valley of the Dolls?" A guy yelled, "I wanna fuck you, Courtney!" She shot back, "I wanna fuck you, too, but only if you're a water sign."

The band jerked into "Gutless," with Love barely struggling through the first verse before the chorus overran her. Then, without a word, she put down her guitar, yanked up her top, and began to pose in her black bra. As the crowd looked on, stunned, she tore off the bra, thrust out her chest, and slurred, "Now you know why I get all the guys, you fucking shitbags." . . . It was like watching your sister strip for a stag party . . .

If you cared at all it was devastating. And there was nobody with whom to share your dismay, just a lot of oblivious zitfaces waiting around for Nine Inch Nails to erase Love's tits and pathos with their precisely packaged anguish . . .

I hope there's more to it than [this]. But right now I'm not so sure.

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