This past weekend my Hole cover band, Jennifer's Body, played the Denver County Fair. Until this show, we weren't an actual band at all -- we formed earlier this year for a two-song set to honor the opening of Hole drummer Patty Schemel's documentary, Hit So Hard, and had never planned on being anything more than that. But Fair entertainment director Andrew Novick got wind of the performance and asked us to play again, and since there is never any reason to say no to Andrew (who has been the positive-minded purveyor of fun stuff in Denver for more than twenty years), we said sure, why the hell not? See also: - Patty Schemel talks about Hit So Hard, and Hole's fifteen-minute reunion - Five prizeworthy parts of the 2012 Denver County Fair - Breeality Bites: Stop inviting me to ruin your camping trip
Before you ask yourself, "Who likes Hole?" or, better yet, "Who is Hole?," I want to say that I hate the idea of tribute bands. As a fan, I think they're dumb. Who wants to witness a copy of something you really care about, regardless of how "good" the replication has been deemed? I don't.
I see incredible, moving performances by bands no one has ever heard of on a regular basis -- I don't need to re-live something I may have missed. It kind of reminds me of how, as a recovering alcoholic, you'll never see me with an Odoul's in my hand. If I'm gonna drink piss water, I want it to be the real thing ("piss water" being Miller High Life straight out of a days-old flat keg and shot directly into my mouth. But if you see that happen, call my mom).
I remember when I caught Peter Hook & the Light's performance of Unknown Pleasures at the Bluebird Theater last year I thought, well, this is cool. But it wasn't Ian Curtis, so I didn't care how accurate it was. Same goes for 40 Oz. to Freedom, the Sublime cover band I reviewed once -- my sister Kelley summed up the show best when she said, "I thought we were seeing a Sublime tribute band, not a shirtless dad band." If it were called Shirtless Dad Band, I might have liked the act better.
But the "faking it until someone believes it" strategy is not the reason I am now in a Hole cover band. I mean, nobody wants to see a Hole cover band. I get that. It's not like any of us involved would do it for that reason, anyway. We're all already making original music that we love: Sara Century as a solo performer, Jessica Hughes in CougarPants, Robin Edwards in Lust-Cats of the Gutters and myself with Night of Joy. We aren't trying to get anywhere with this endeavor. Plus, we don't have even one Courtney look-alike in the whole band -- because we all not-so secretly wanted to be Courtney.
But really, I'm in this thing for purely selfish reasons. It is a way for me to act out my fantasies of being both Courtney Love and now-deceased Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff simultaneously, on stage, in front of people. When I was given my first bass guitar for my fourteenth birthday in 1994, all I did was pose with it. I used the upside-down cardboard box that my full-length mirror sat on in my bedroom as a pretend monitor, and I pushed my patent leather high heel into it while flinging the neck of my guitar around, just like Courtney.
A half a year later, I saw Courtney do this in real life at my first concert -- Hole at Mammoth Events Center on March 19, 1995. She was hours late to the show, due to apparently refusing to board a plane in New York City to come to Denver. But it didn't matter to me. She came out, looked cool and sang all of the songs from Live Through This that I loved.
Last weekend, I (sort of) got to do the same thing. And it was awesome. Two songs in, while I was busy trying to look cool and cute and rock back on my big white heels, my amp crapped out. But instead losing my shit, getting bratty and walking off stage, I just laughed. It was like my amp was getting back at me for all of the time it spent watching me pretend to play my guitar in my room by myself, instead of just plugging in and figuring out how to play "She Walks On Me."
What I'm trying to convey with this cute little story about how cool it was to grow up in the '90s is this: You're never too old to do the stuff you wanted to do when you were a kid. When Jennifer's Body first came to be -- originally under the too-inappropriate-for-the-Denver-County-Fair-crowd name of Teenage Whore -- I was just excited for the opportunity to scream "Girl germs eat your little virus, revolution come and die" into a microphone. But when we got the chance to do it again, for an audience of more than our friends, and for a full set of songs, teenage me couldn't have been more pumped than the adult I turned out to be.
A side note to teenage me: You got a Kristen Pfaff memorial tattoo this summer, and it's pretty cool. You didn't, however, get that Bettie Page tattoo you'd always wanted. Or the full, shoulder blades-to-butt crack portrait of Iggy Pop surrounded by flowers that was to read "I gave my heart to rock n' roll" below it in script. But you can thank your high school BFF Randy for still being in your adult life, and for stopping you from letting such terrible tattoo ideas materialize on your body.
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