SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 3: Hole

6th Street was filled with delightful sonic mayhem in the midnight hour, with music coming from everywhere. A sublime moment occurred when a drum circle’s thriving jam seemed to blend into the band that was rocking out at a nearby bar. Meanwhile, there was a huge line in front of the Dirty Dog Bar where Courtney Love and Hole were scheduled for a 1:00 AM set.

The Dirty Dog was jammed like a sardine can and it was amazing that a fire marshal never came in and broke it up, because there were way too many people in this place. It was apparently the place to be though, with the likes of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey watching the set from the side of the stage. Their entourage even got a security escort to the men’s room, which was probably the only way to get across the packed bar at that point.

Hole opened with a Nirvana-ish tune, followed by “Doll Parts,” which sounded great. The band was tight, but Love’s voice was ragged, which she unfortunately dwelled on throughout the set. The jam-packed conditions were rather uncomfortable for the first 15 to 20 minutes, until some folks gave up and left, at last creating a little elbow room. Love bitched at her guitarist for playing too loud, and harped about it being tough to sing at 1:00 am when you’re a chain smoker.

It seemed like she might call the set at any moment, but she soldiered on, with “Malibu” taking the crowd back to the mid-’90s for one of the era’s most memorable alt-rock hits. The new material had that powerful alt-rock vibe too, suggesting Love hasn’t lost her touch. “Gold Dust Woman” was also well-received, despite Love’s voice, which should have told her to quit bitching and just play through. But instead of acknowledging her voice issues and moving on, Love continued to dwell on it, constantly setting back the vibe of the set. “Worst show of my life. I’m so glad you were here to witness it, now go see a good blues band,” declared Love at the end. Her defeatist attitude and voice-ragging chain smoking sadly don’t seem to bode well for Hole’s big comeback.

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