Live Review: Throwing Muses at the Triple Door 2/26/14

Live Reviews
Janice Headley
all photos by Mike Emigh (view set)

I feel like I need to preface everything in this review with the phrase, "I don't mean this in a bad way, but..."

For example: I gotta say it was a little strange seeing the veteran rockers Throwing Muses at the classy, beautiful Triple Door. The band's new album, Purgatory/Paradise, is... well, it's angry! Songs are furious, with pounding drums and blaring guitars, punctuated by the screeching howl of frontwoman Kristin Hersh. These are songs to hear in a sticky, beer-scented, dark room, preferably while crammed against a bunch of smelly strangers. Instead, I daintily sipped my refreshing fruity drink while nibbling on spring rolls, with a whiff of expensive cologne in the air... WHAT?Do not get me wrong though, because I love the Triple Door, and I know Kristin has a long history with the venue. It's beautiful, the food is delicious, and the sound was absolutely impeccable. It's not you, it's me. I wanted to mosh or something, but I didn't want to knock over the complementary carafe of water at my table, so I rocked out awkwardly in my chair instead.

And, on that note: the sound at the Triple Door was so crystal-clear that I -- and I don't mean this in a bad way -- I felt like I was experiencing Throwing Muses in a whole new light.

The last time I saw the 'Muses was during the 1995 tour for University. I was a starry-eyed teen who idolized Hersh, so I didn't even notice there were other people on stage with her. But that night at the Triple Door, I really felt like I was experiencing Throwing Muses as a "band," not just as "Kristin." I was blown away by how fast bassist Bernard Georges played, and how complicated his parts are. I think my jaw was hanging open watching David Narcizo play drums. How had I never noticed how absolutely amazing he is? During the first encore, the band dug out the University track "Snakeface," and I nearly fell out of my chair, straining to look behind the kit, wondering, "HOW is he playing that?!"

Throwing Muses are the shining example of a "power trio," with each member bringing so much strength to their part. Again, I'm so sorry, Mr. Georges and Mr. Narcizo. It's not you, IT'S ME.

The set was entirely comprised of tracks from Purgatory/Paradise, which didn't surprise me after seeing this tweet from Kristin earlier that week:

But what did surprise me was the encores (yes, plural!): the band reached back to their 1987 EP The Fat Skier for "You Cage," followed by The Real Ramona's "Red Shoes," "Devil's Roof" from 1989's Hunkpapa, and more tracks from their aforementioned University release. I'm glad they held back on older tracks 'til the end, because I felt so dizzy from a mix of nostalgia and joy, I might've passed out. The kicker was when they came back out for the final encore with the track "Pearl" from the 1992 album Red Heaven, which is admittedly, one of my favorite songs to belt out when I'm alone in my car.

I loved how it added another dimension to Purgatory/Paradise, which -- if you haven't seen it yet -- is not only an album, but also a book. Well, that night at the Triple Door, it was also a performance, and an absolutely awesome one at that.

Hear an exclusive in-studio session from Throwing Muses, conducted by DJ El Toro, on the Afternoon Show on KEXP today at 3:00 PM PT.

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