The Hole Review We'd Like To Write Next Week

"As we all waited, sweat-covered and parched, for the encore, something flashed over us in the crowd. Courtney Love had finally kicked her demons into the gutter, and we were all there witnessing it together.

"The lights dimmed a little more and Aftermath spied that shock of blonde hair in the corner of the stage lighting another cigarette and just as quick as it was lit, Love and the rest of the band sauntered out and the lights at the House Of Blues flared up and the opening riff of "Celebrity Skin" shot at us like the blast of a high-powered shotgun.

"We saw people who may have seen Hole the first time around in the mid-'90s were honest to God crowd-surfing. Yuppies, housewives and kids not even born when Kurt Cobain was alive all met at the top of the crowd, dripping with joy as if the past ten years had not happened to Love or us."

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That's the kind of Aftermath that we want to write about Hole's show next Tuesday at House of Blues. We don't think we can stomach a bad show from Courtney Love, and we most surely don't like the idea of having to pound out a displeasing, vitriolic screed against her.

Call us a pie-eyed child of the grunge decade, the kind that grew up taping Hole songs off the radio to listen to on the school bus. Maybe we did romanticize the story of Kurt and Courtney, the first and last couple of alternative rock. We imagined that mythical self-destructive duo pounding out songs on acoustic guitars in a smoke-filled room, only stopping to shoot up or nod off.

We have an image of the grieving and stoic widow in our heads that somehow makes the past 16 years understandable. We - meaning pop culture at large - almost give Love a free pass because her husband killed himself, so we expect her to do bad things out of rage and grief.

It's the same way people might treat a child of divorce or even a shell-shocked soldier. But non-celebrities don't get a free pass to gloriously fail for more than a decade and a half. No, us little people are given a slim window of crazy we can act out on before we are told to get our shit straight.

Pop culture is cool with Love failing because it keeps her on the blogs and magazines as a train wreck that gets people to click, scroll and flick through pages. Music wags don't mind because we all like a good comeback or underdog story to prove us wrong so we can fantastically backpedal.

Rocks Off saw Love and what now counts as Hole at SXSW back in March. We hated through two bands to gander at Love, and didn't know what to expect. Judging from the stories we heard all that week, she was terrorizing the folks at the Driskill Hotel on Sixth Street with cigarette burns in a non-smoking facility, with tales of strewn tampons in her hallway. Obviously, we never saw anything personally.

The band's set was a blistering, bluesy collection of older Hole songs and new ones from this spring's Nobody's Daughter. Matthew McConaughey and Love's co-star from The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Woody Harrelson, were in the crowd to cheer her on. She smoked like a chimney, told stories, yelled at her band and talked to the crowd.

But that's rock and roll, and nothing out of the norm by any means. It was a loose show. We walked out happy to see the rebirth of one of the past decade's most fiercely convicted artists.

Flash forward to this past Sunday night, when Love played what sounds like the concert from Hell at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. According to the Washington Post's David Malitz, it was more of sideshow study in audience patience and artistic decline than a rock concert. He labeled it the "Courtney Love Experience" more than anything else, describing it the way you would do color commentary of 20 car pile-up on the freeway or an execution in Huntsville.

So we wait for Tuesday night to see what happens in Houston. Is Wednesday's Aftermath going to be blood-splattered and brutally honest, or are we going to be still wearing a sweat-stained Hole shirt we bought a few hours before?

We aren't challenging Love and Hole in the slightest. We think what we are asking for in reality is for the rock star that we have grown up with on record to make us believe in her the way she did in March. And that's not that big of a feat.

Rocks Off welcomes our readers to offer your own thoughts and predictions about the show.

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