One of the strangest concerts in Boston history occurred at the Orpheum Theatre on December 4, 1994. The band Hole, with lead singer Courtney Love, performed to a crowd of mostly suburban teenagers. During the concert, Love interrupted the music and talked about her deceased husband Kurt Cobain, and also broke out into Tourette Syndrome-like rants. The music was great, but the raving was vulgar and offensive, and prompted some of the audience to shout back at her.
Kurt Cobain, Love's husband and lead singer of Nirvana, had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 5, 1994. Cobain and Love were both fronting separate bands and apparently drowning in unhealthy environments and lifestyles. Cobain suffered greatly from depression, and Love was affected by the death of her husband, which likely caused the strange behavior during the 1994-95 Live Through This tour.
Nirvana and Seattle Grunge-rock took America by storm in 1991. Influenced by The Pixies and others, Nirvana's style was gritty, energetic and rebellious, and put the final nail in the coffin of big-haired '80s rock. Hole's music was similar in style to Nirvana's, and they released their second album Live Through This in early 1994. During this tour Hole appeared at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston.
The theater was full of anxious teenagers. When Hole began to perform, the crowd was excited, and really got into the music. Love was wearing black leather pants and dangling a guitar. She appeared to be intoxicated or under the influence of something. After playing a couple of songs and receiving great applause by the audience, Love abruptly stopped the set, and started mumbling about Kurt Cobain. I believe she said she missed Cobain, and that he would be remembered as a music legend. The crowd found it strange, and the theater became silent.
After another song or two, Love became angry, and between songs, began to drop "F" bombs and scream "Shit." The crowd was shocked, and just ignored her raving. Another Tourette-like rant took place a few minutes later, and she dropped the "N" word at the top of her lungs. The crowd became a little feisty after that, and some members of the audience yelled back the "B" word and worse.
It was a very strange concert. The music and vocals were great, with energetic and even angry performances of songs like Violet, but it appeared the lead singer needed counseling. The crowd applauded in approval, but left pondering "What just happened?"
In 1999, Hole toured with Marilyn Manson and was scheduled to visit Boston again. Animosity existed between Hole and Manson. Hole's Melissa Auf Der Maur was quoted in the May 10, 1999 Boston Herald about their tour. The article seemed to paint Manson as publicity seekers and grand-standers, with Hole being community oriented. This author wrote a letter to the Herald that was published about the '94 concert. Although heavily censored, the letter conveyed a greatly different view than the May 10 article.
Quoting the letter published May 13, 1999 entitled A Dark Hole: "Your article implie[d] that Hole is lily white compared to Marilyn Manson ('The HOLE truth,' May 10). I saw Hole at the Orpheum on Dec. 4, 1994, and found Courtney Love to be quite vulgar and racially insensitive. We do not need grungers from the West Coast inciting racism in our city. The music was great, but I'd never go to another Hole concert or buy their CDs. Marilyn Manson is nothing more than Alice Cooper'90s style, and isn't the least bit pretentious."
Courtney Love has lived through a lot, and it is hoped she can overcome her issues and achieve all of her goals.