Courtney Love is heading to Australia for her first tour since 1999. I saw Hole play at Selina’s in Coogee, Sydney in 1995 having travelled down from Newcastle with my bandmates from all-girl band Sycorax. I loved Hole! I still do. I remember buying the 7-inch of Retard Girl from Cooks Books second-hand book and record shop and relishing in the grainy sounds emanating from the beautiful blue vinyl spinning on the record player. Hole were so much better than Nirvana, in my eyes, but of course Courtney Love copped flak for everything she did, from what she wore, to her demeanor, to the circumstances surrounding Kurt’s death. Hole, and earlier bands such as Frightwig and The Slits, saved us in a culture of male-dominated rock and punk music in a town renowned for its macho masculinity.
Sycorax playing at El Nino’s World Environment Day gig at the Hunter on Hunter, Newcastle, Circa 1995.
Hole’s show was chaotic to say the least, but it was beyond memorable. Supporting them was Magic Dirt, and even though I wasn’t a huge fan, lead-singer Adalita was a force to be reckoned with on stage. Selina’s was a mix of Hole devotees and yobbo-boy-locals yelling obscenities and spilling beer down our backs. I wasn’t ready for them. Looking back on it now I realise that I’d naively thought that the only people watching, the only people who could afford a ticket, were die-hard Hole fans, not packs of guys who didn’t even seem to know who was playing or seemed to care.
My friends and I pushed our way to the front. It was an epic mosh and I swear for nearly the entire gig my feet didn’t touch the ground. Being short has always made for difficult times seeing bands, but I stuck it out at the front near the stage despite the fact that I felt like I was hyperventilating, could barely feel my body, and my friends, who I swear were right there next to me, were nowhere to be seen. Courtney herself was a shambles, but the crowd didn’t care ’cause she was Courtney Love!!! and this was Hole. We didn’t want polished, we didn’t want ‘nice’. For every new song Courtney was brought a new guitar, an expensive guitar at that, but for every new guitar she was handed, fewer and fewer chords were strummed and the songs became a messy blur.
When Courtney climbed the speaker stack it was the perfect rock ‘n roll moment. She loomed over me like a satin-clad angel. When she jumped, my arms waved frantically in the air to catch her. She jumped and fell hard. It was simultaneously amazing and terrifying to have Courtney Love stage dive into my hands. Her shoes came off and were lost among the crowd. Someone found one and threw it back. It pegged bass player Melissa Auf der Maur in the head causing her to go to hospital and Courtney threatening to cancel the show.
When the gig was over I was disoriented and confused. My friends were nowhere to be seen and I, the least hardcore of the group when it came to moshing, had stayed in the thick of things until the end. I eventually found them, standing off to the side of the stage. They’d left the mosh ages before and laughed their heads off at the fact that I’d stayed up the front where it’d been so intense. I left the gig totally elated and totally wasted, with someone’s fingerprints bruised into my right shoulder blade, and the wire rim of another person’s homemade fairy wings bruised into the other.