June 29, 2010

I Want to be the Girl with the Most Cake

Walker Evans, Abandoned House, 1973

* Must Read: David Malitz on Hole's show at DC's 9:30 Club. excerpt:

Make no mistake - this was an astonishingly awful performance that had few moments of redeeming musical value. Song titles, lyrics, guitar chords - Love remembered only some of them, and infrequently. Then again, what was really the best-case musical scenario? A competent recreation of songs more than a decade old, played by Love and her latest hired hands? Is that what people wanted to see - Courtney karaoke versions of '90s MTV buzz clips? Maybe. But probably not. Perhaps a bit more professionalism would have been nice but in 2010 you pay your $45 hoping for the Courtney Love Experience. And Sunday night was an experience like no other.
When Love got around to singing, her voice sounded as if something died in her throat earlier in the day. Love has a blood-curdling howl, by far her most effective asset as a performer. She just should have used it more on Sunday. During the choruses of "Miss World" and "Violet" - two of her best and most popular songs - she turned the microphone to the crowd and didn't even bother singing. Other times she skipped lines in order to cough, or take a sip of water or just ... not sing. Of the nearly 30 songs (or song fragments), not even a handful were completed without some minor disaster.

Love took a request for "Rock Star" despite admitting she didn't remember how to play it. She stumbled through half the song without strumming anything resembling one correct chord. (Why didn't she just Google the tablature on the iPhone?) She played a new song, "Pretty Your Whole Life." It was bad. Half an hour later she played it again. It was worse.

Love eventually decided to have some of her fans join her on stage. She started plucking some from the crowd and they simply sat off to the side. "Do you really like rock music?" she asked one female. "Because you're African-American. That would be like me being into Lil Wayne." She wasn't joking. One fan came on stage with a poster and asked Love to sign it. "No socializing! Go sit over there."
Before the encore another one of Love's handlers told the remaining faithful that they would have to be loud because there was someone who was waiting to have sex with Love and it would take lots of applause to get her to delay that appointment. Sure enough Love did re-emerge, this time wearing a skin-colored see-through top, sans bra. It would have been blurred out on TV, even on E!

She quickly became self-conscious and asked the audience for a bra, promising unlimited merchandise to whoever gave her one. One came flying onto the stage and Love removed her top to put it on. She did this at the back corner of the stage, so we could only see her bare back. She then repeatedly talked about how the bra was too big for her.

The encore contained a Rolling Stones cover (the second of the night), a Leonard Cohen cover ("Take This Longing") and the back-to-back of originals "Car Crash" and "Awful." Was this irony or were we well past that? Most of her backing band had retired for the night by this point leaving Love and guitarist Micko Larkin alone on stage. Then came a cover of Big Star's "Thirteen" that likely had Alex Chilton doing 360s in his grave. Before closer "Northern Lights" she ripped off the bra. Obviously. It's actually somewhat surprising she didn't play Nirvana's "Pennyroyal Tea" while completely topless.

"This is a really weird show," Love said in perhaps the understatement of the night a bit earlier. "I can't tell if it's really terrible."

Courtney, let me tell you something. In just the past year and a half, I've been to about 400 shows. I've seen some really terrible ones. And this was really the most terrible. No question. But the vast majority of those 400 shows, I went there, I saw it, and almost immediately forgot I was there. I'll never forget this night with Courtney Love, no matter how much I may want to. And isn't that really what she's always wanted?

* Have you had a significant psilocybin mushroom experience? Please take this anonymous Johns Hopkins survey csp.org/hopkins/psilocybinsurvey Because they need many responses, please share the link widely. Click for survey.

* "Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further. The further one goes, the more private, the more personal, the more singular an experience becomes, and the thing one is making is, finally, the necessary, irrepressible, and, as nearly as possible, definitive utterance of this singularity." --Rainer Maria Rilke


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