Easy Being Green

Fred Green explores new rhythmic permutations on its third album

That was the question that Hole bassist Melissa auf der Maur posed to the exuberant throng at Mesa Amphitheatre on June 2, by way of a greeting. Not to be outdone, Hole's reigning empress Courtney Love said, "There's something about the desert air that makes me wanna fuck." As if to underline the point, within a few minutes Love had stripped off her white tank top (with "Desert Storm" written on it) to showcase her purple bra, announcing that she doesn't like to wear a lot of clothes onstage.

Whatever effect the desert air had on Love's libido, it certainly didn't seem to harm her mood. Although the band's set was a bit short at barely more than an hour (probably due to a noticeable vocal hoarseness that Love apologized for, and that induced her to take repeated swigs of lime-flavored Gatorade), Courtney was in great spirits throughout, working the front rows of the crowd with a cheerfulness and affection that was almost maternal.

Even when she complained about the "hard-core-punk fuckers," whose aggressive jostling made it impossible for her to sing a tune from within the audience, she seemed more amused than angry. After a raucous encore take on "Celebrity Skin," she pulled the by-now-ritualistic act of giving her guitar away to a girl in the crowd. When another girl in the front row expressed disappointment, Love felt guilt-stricken enough to give a second guitar away, for what she said was the first time ever at a Hole show.

The Hole crowd was pretty worshipful, but the Elvis Costello fans who filled Celebrity Theatre four nights later could only be described as adoring. Accompanied only by longtime keyboard foil Steve Nieve, Costello played an amazingly generous set of nearly two and a half hours, heavy on material from his 1998 collaboration with Burt Bacharach, Painted From Memory.

Highlights included a harsh dig at NRA mouthpiece Charlton Heston during a monologue section of "God's Comic," and a touching version of "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4" (a highly unexpected closer), which Costello performed with no amplification to a hushed, riveted room. It was an awesome demonstration of the man's dramatic gifts, not to mention his lung power.

In Clubland: Punk-rock karaoke has never been this good. On Sunday, June 13, the Green Room takes the concept all the way to the true sources, bringing in a punk-rock dream team to provide backing for the Valley's aspiring hard-core crooners. The band includes Mike Watt on bass, Gregg Hetson (Circle Jerks and Bad Religion) on guitar and members of Social Distortion and NOFX.

Also this weekend, Jesus Chrysler Supercar celebrates the release of its new CD, Land Speed, with shows on Thursday, June 10, at Club Rio; and Friday, June 11, at Boston's, along with Anti-Hero League, a new incarnation of local hard-rock icons Zig Zag Black.

--Gilbert Garcia

Contact Gilbert Garcia at his online address: ggarcia@newtimes.com

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