“Make a hole!” yelled one of the bouncers at Dirty Dog, where Courtney Love was about to continue her return to music with a reconstituted version of her band Hole on the third night of the SXSW Music Festival. It was creeping up on 1:15 am. The crowd was packed so tightly together stage left of the dive bar that an emergency situation seemed imminent. Just then the bouncer bulldozered an opening through a space out of thin air to accommodate Woody Harrelson, dressed in a light tan suit and matching Kangol cabbie hat, and an entourage of almost 10 deep (or a crew of coattails’ riders). John Doe, frontman for the punk band X, was nearby in the crowd and grew absolutely irate. He pointed at a passing Harrelson and barked, “You fucking celebrities.”
Harrelson and crew, en route to Love’s dressing room, did an about-face minutes later, as Love had just taken to the stage. She was dressed like a wood nymph in pink, with a halo atop her long blond locks. She was telling the audience that she wasn’t doing this for them, but for herself. Then she flipped everyone the bird and said, “Suck it.”
A sludgy, bluesy opening number led to a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” followed by a take on the new Hole song “Skinny Little Bitch,” from the forthcoming album Nobody’s Daughter, out April 27th. It sounded much better live, with Love’s raspy growl coated by new guitarist Micko Larkin’s swirls of fuzz.
Love continued with “Doll Parts,” an older song that was supposedly written in response to her first encounter with Kurt Cobain. After that, she started complaining that her voice was shot and that if she kept playing loud songs she wouldn’t be able to play Perez Hilton’s party the following night. “It’s 1:00-fucking-am and I’m an old person,” she said. “It’s time for me to get my blowjob on.”
But she broke out a few more covers, including a full-on band version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” and an acoustic duet version of “Bette Davis Eyes” with Larkin. Elsewhere in the crowd, Matthew McConaughey, wearing a Kangol to match Harrelson’s, looked on approvingly. But Love, who wouldn’t let up about her voice, wasn’t pleased. “Worst show of my life,” she told the crowd, in parting. “I’m so glad you were here to witness it.”
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