By Freya WilcoxHudson, NY - In NYC, it's easy to feel as though you're at the center of the musical universe – every band trying to get off the ground, make a comback or squeeze out that (difficult) second record it seems wants to have a crack at New York.
This weekend however, it was all happening in the upstate town of Hudson where ex-Hole members, Eric Erlandson, Patty Schemel and Melissa Auf der Maur came together for the first time in over a decade to showcase new works, remember the old and give the intimate audience a look directly into the eye of their creative chemistry and incredible power as a band.
The venue: the gorgeous Basilica Hudson – a 19th century factory space co-owned by Auf der Maur was a perfect picture of urban (or rather regional) renewal with a soul and charm to match the humble trio that once took on the world.
Auf der Maur shone with pride in the space's coming to life as she introduced Erlandson to the stage (and to the residents of the quiet town) to read from his new book of prose poems “Letters to Kurt.” (As it happened, it was 18 years to the day since Cobain's body was found in his home near Seattle.)
Erlandson's sometimes humorous, sometimes angry, sometimes mournful verse of grief and growth were followed beautifully by his performance with Auf der Maur. Surprisingly the rock icon pulled out a banjo – seemingly a new experiment – to play Auf der Maur's "Foggy Notion".
The haunting jangle of the banjo met with Auf der Maur's incredible vocals, and somehow an audience sat completely engaged as the punk-rock masters played the raw and somewhat gothic tune that was Auf der Maur's first written song.
Once the banjo was replaced with a guitar, the duo performed a part-english, part-french cover of Jacques Brel “Season's in the Sun” - pegged as Cobain's “goodbye” on Nirvana's final tour – followed by The Smiths' “Paint a Vulgar Picture”.
The extremely laid back performance was followed by the first screening of the incredible new documentary, “Hit So Hard – The Life and Near Death of Drummer Patty Schemel” - the extremely powerful first person view of the inner-workings of Hole, Cobain, the perils of the music industry, and the truly inspiring survival of one of rock's most underrated drummers.
After, the trio took their place onstage for the first time in over ten years. “We're not Hole," Auf der Maur said, "we're three people who used to play in Hole, playing together.” The short set welcomed the audience into a casual but remarkable jam between the three that showed the true integrity and talent of the group that rocked the history of music – proving that Hole was never just Courtney Love's backing track.
Patty Schemel's beat from behind a tiny drum kit filled the room with an immense sound that truly has to be experienced to be believed, while Erlandson's lush guitar and Auf der Maur's pulsing bass threw the room into a 90's-era whirlpool.
There, in living color, the band that could so easily have been torn apart, turned bitter or spat into the pit of burnt-out and broken “rock legends,” gave the crowd a peek into their captivating power and immaculate bond that stood the test of time, despite rock'n'roll's red right hand.