Courtney Love Royal Athletic Park Main Stage, Victoria BC, September 13

Courtney Love Royal Athletic Park Main Stage, Victoria BC, September 13
Photo: Jason Schreurs
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There was much chatter in the crowd before Courtney Love's headlining set at the first full day of Rifflandia. Mostly, the sentiment was which Courtney would we see? Would it be the unhinged '90s train wreck that became the rallying cry for young girls and boys looking for something much more angst-filled than the Britneys and the Christinas, or would it be the current and slightly more subdued train wreck who's now pushing 50 and can truly follow her slogan of "live through this"?

What we ended up getting was a mix of the two, Courtney digging deep down to find the guttural howl that dominated Hole's first two albums, but dialing it down and attempting (key word: attempting) to sing some slower numbers from her more recent Hole material and solo work. Doing essentially the same show that she's done regularly on her recent tour, Love smoked cigarettes (her personal roadie had the primo job of lighting them, as well as constantly adjusting her microphone), used her caustic sarcasm to toy with the crowd, and had lots of big smiles and kind words for us, which was a bit unnerving.

Hole staples like "Violet" and "Live Through This" sounded downright scary and unhinged, which was what some of us were waiting for, but Love's rather large band of hirsute men kept everything safe and polite, unfortunately. Let's just say Love's new band can't match her rock-goddess-gone-wrong persona like the classic Hole lineups did. Her first encore song, the acoustic "Northern Star," almost derailed completely before her band came back on to finish with "Doll Parts."