Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore have been on my mind, ever since I read Vanity Fair‘s latest trainwreck rerun story about Courtney Love yesterday. I’ll never forget running into Mr. and Mrs. Sonic Youth on Prince Street on the day news of Kurt Cobain’s death hit. “I’m so sorry,” I mumbled, as we stopped on a corner, because I knew they were friends.
“We’re not surprised by his death,” Kim said. We’d all been expecting Kurt to die any day, so wasted was his living. “It was just the way he died, the violence.”
I nodded. I didn’t really know what to say about such an ugly, intimate, yet public loss. It was a raw, vulnerable day for a rock critic to catch indie rock’s ultimate power couple, the coolest people on the planet. Other people would have hugged, cried. But we nodded, shared a moment of silence, then went on our ways.
Usually, the train stays on the track, and nobody writes about it. Hole played the Fillmore at Jackie Gleason in Miami Beach Friday night and the show was probably most remarkable for what didn’t happen: No Courtney Love insulting her own fans with racist comments, no three-hour wandering self-indulgent marathon, no inability to play the chords and finish a song, no mass exodus by the audience. In other words, a totally different show from the disasterfest that made for such a great review by David Malitz in The Washington Post recently. (I hereby nominate said writeup for the Best Music Writing anthology of 2010.)
Unfortunately, since Love long ago gave up on letting her music be what’s important and compelling about her, it made for a rather boring show. Hole made some of the best songs of the ‘90s; tracks like “Doll Parts” and “Live Through This” still seem smart and powerful and timely. But for Love, fierce cock-rock blocking long ago became just another pose. She looked great, but in a tailored, expensive way: cascading Hollywood hair, perfectly lifeless breasts, little black dress. She bragged about her Raleigh penthouse — er, how punk rock. She opened with “Sympathy for the Devil” and sounded like a cross between Keith Richards and Bob Dylan, spiked with her own inimitable roar. But that roar has become a mannerism, not a statement. I’ve always wanted Love to succeed, to not just live through it all but triumph through it. Even when she’s not totally screwing up, she still disappoints.