SXSW Review: Hole, SPIN Magazine Party at Stubbs

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While most US pop stars are so inoffensive that they’re downright puritanical, Courtney is as no holds barred and unapologetic as ever.

SXSW is the time for new artists to breakout and show themselves in front of the media, record labels, and tastemakers. However, the festival also marks a time for more established artists–Stone Temple Pilots, Bone Thugs, and Smokey Robinson to name a few–to relaunch their careers.

Most notable of such artists was Hole. Courtney Love is back and I, for one, am excited for her return. While most US pop stars are so inoffensive that they’re downright puritanical, Courtney is as no holds barred and unapologetic as ever. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what rock and roll music is supposed to be–raw, uncut, and offensive–and Hole’s throwback to the golden era of modern rock music (the early 90s) is more than fitting in this marketplace.

Hole was in town to preview songs from their newest album, Nobody’s Daughter, which drops in April, and the setlist weighed more heavily towards new material than songs from back in the day. Most notably, the track “Skinny Little Bitch,” with its thrashing power chords and strong hook, the  power ballad “Letter to God,” penned by pop songwriter Linda Perry (Google her), and the rock track “Pacific Coast Highway,” all became fan favorites. The latter two being far more radio-friendly than some of the band’s former material. The only “old” Hole songs that were played consisted of “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Miss World,” and “Reasons To Be Beautiful”. But unlike most bands who reform, the new material fits in flushly with the music of the past.

I’ve always wondered if Courney’s shtick is an act or if she is really as vapid as her on-stage antics would have you believe. Even though the songs were entertaining, it was what happens between the music that really stole the show. Her mindless rants about holes and flapping vaginas (yeah, really) got me anticipating that she would go off the deep end at one point. But she didn’t. In fact, she kept it together, even when the people at Stubbs cut Hole’s set short, Courtney surprisingly acted mature and played one last song, instead of trying to start a riot.

So what can I say about Hole? Well, it’s either your cup of tea or it ain’t. For people like me, who grew up listening to Hole back in high school, it was a blast from the past. However, can Hole win over new fans in this fractured music marketplace? Only time will tell. Until then, I will blast “Skinny Little Bitch” on full blast, getting stares and side-eyes everywhere I turn.

Pretty On The Inside/Sympathy for the Devil
Skinny Little Bitch
Miss World
Nobody’s Daughter
Letter To God
Pacific Coast Highway
Reasons To Be Beautiful