Is there anything more Hollywood than Lana Del Rey and Courtney Love? The original riot grrl joined the songstress to launch her Endless Summer tour—and our Music Editor was on the scene.
By Haley Albert
"What a special night to have your wine and cheese and flower crowns," Courtney Love bellowed to a crown-adorned Hollywood bowl audience on Monday night. Love is supporting Lana Del Rey on the first leg of her Endless Summer tour, which ends June 4th. The playful shot at Del Rey fans, who often mimic the singer’s notorious floral headpieces, came before Love dropped a brand new track titled ‘Miss Narcissist.’ "It's about narcissism,” said Love, “which none of you know about, because none of you live in Los Angeles.”
Love’s often brazen and pointed audience exchanges—her Nineties no-qualms grunge aesthetic, and fatalistic lyrics—juxtaposed with Lana’s doe-eyed fan selfies and stage sauntering make for an unlikely yet brilliant tour duo. Their performances speak about one another and to one another, while each are headliners in their own right.
Love’s tiara, slightly off-kilter and glimmering gold, was her answer to Del Rey’s army of Coachella-ready tweens. She jumped around the stage barefoot with her slitted maxi dress—her voice oscillating between roars and raspy whispers. She plowed through ‘Little Skinny Bitch,’ and ‘Celebrity Skin,” sang an ode to ‘Malibu,’ and ended with ‘Doll Parts.’ Arguably one of Hole’s biggest tunes, the last felt like a deliberate end to a rather exciting performance. Love’s performance ended on the same emotional note with which it began—proof that the powerhouse vocalist, although not as active as say, Del Rey, is still a force to be reckoned with.
After Love finished, as the girls in the front row quickly ran a Wikipedia check on the artist they had just seen, it was time for Del Rey.
The embodiment of the character in Love’s ‘Doll Parts,’ Del Rey moseyed on stage with her white babydoll dress and opened with ‘Cruel World.’ She sang between two massive art deco skyscraper facades, which looked like they had been lifted from a Paramount Studios backlot, while vintage film filters were displayed on the Bowl’s giant screens. Of course Del Rey sang among the old-Hollywood style lights, as that is the character she has created in her fantastical, retro Pinterest-board of a world.
Del Rey played all the crowd’s favorites—‘Blue Jeans,’ ‘Video Games,’ and ‘Born to Die,’ and she did it all with the same tortured persona she has worked so hard to construct. She walked from one end of the stage to the other, rarely changing her facial expression or swaying pace.
What is so fascinating about Del Rey is that her show could have been performed anywhere, and to any size crowd. Never really acknowledging—in intonation nor body language—that she was playing at one of the most exciting venues in American music, to a crowd of thousands, her performance could have been a sound check in a bar. It felt as though she was having an out-of-body experience, or running over a script she fully memorized: droning stock lines like, “Such an amazing feeling to be here with everybody, and to share the night with Courtney, too."
Del Rey’s touring life has not been without fault. Her first major label tour for Born to Die saw a much greener version of the girl on stage today. She has grown more confident and has fully personified the alternate world she’s created for herself—a world that feels more Love than Lana. Lana’s lyrics wax suicidal and often sound like a person who has lived everything Courtney has: the depression, the drugs, the torture. Lana presents a romanticized version of a life Courtney has lived. While Courtney, a bad girl prone to a public meltdown or two, writes the raw lyrics of a life of true hardship.
Del Rey’s lyrics are almost iconographical, often located in a fantasy world of drinking whiskey with her dad on a smog-filled day. It’s all make believe—she has created a place that seems wholly fictional, compared to Love’s raw-and-real ethos. And this is what makes Del Rey so utterly genius. She is a performance artist on par with Maria Abramovic or even RiFF RAFF, figures whose personalities foreground their work. While Del Rey certainly has the acclaim of an accomplished musician, she is often, if not completely overlooked for her commitment to the character she has created. Hopefully, this show signals a lasting creative relationship between two enigmatic artists—we can’t wait to see what happens next.
From the Hollywood Bowl to the Brooklyn Bowl, catch the tail end of our May Concert Guide here.