Tegan and Sara Play the Non-Hits (And Some Hits, Too)

Categories: Concert Review

Before hitting the road for their current tour (the last before they sequester themselves in the studio to make their sixth album), Tegan and Sara released this video on YouTube announcing that they would play older songs on this tour.

While not ignoring the their most popular tunes, they did break out gems from the past much to their rabid fans' enjoyment. They told funny stories too, because, well, that's what they do.

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Tegan and Sara's opening acts for their Saturday night show at the State Theater seemed to be homages to the duo's career: one part quiet and folk, the other rock/pop. The first band, Texas-bred trio Girl In a Coma, performed a rousing set of their textured girl rock. Their performance introducing them to T&S's fans came at the perfect moment as their chugging sound wedding emotion and thumping beats should help fill some of the musical void T&S fans are fearing while they make their next album.

Next on stage was City and Color (nee Dallas Green), an indy-bearded acoustic troubadour hailing from T&S's homeland. While Green was relentlessly charming (at one point he stopped his set because he dropped his guitar pick down the back of his shirt), his quiet, interesting enough folk sound probably would have been best delivered before the rocking began. At times, the audience drowned his singing out with their talking as anticipation for the main attraction built. Although he did earn brownie points with everybody listening for covering Low.

By time the Tegan and Sara took the stage at about 9:20, the crowd's excitement was downright bubbly. They opened with a sped up and rambunctious versions of So Jealous tracks "Wouldn't Like Me" and "I Bet It Stung." Next they played hook-laden "Burn Your Life Down" off of The Con with a ghostly echo effect on the vocals that gave it an entirely different feel than the album version. A bit later, they launched into the anxious, lovesick "Hop a Plane," which flowed seamlessly into a jarring and heavy treatment of "Superstar," a song from This Business of Art, their major label debut. Later they got two a couple more unreleased tracks and rarities, including Tegan's "I've Got You" (which might just be the sweetest song ever) and Sara's "Love Type Thing." Near the end of the set, Sara noticed some people looked tired from standing and told everybody it was OK to sit down for the next song the sad breakup song "Call It Off."

The highlight of the encore was a soulful acoustic duet with Tegan and City and Color singing "The First" off This Business of Art. After a few more songs, and reminding the audience to vote and an appeal to "Please vote for who you know we want you to vote for. Seriously." They closed the show by blazing through So Jealous' "Fix You Up."

It was the irresistible recasting of their older songs that made the show an experience worth having. As Sara told CP before the concert, the band really was unsure that this tour was even necessary. Nourished by the sisters' early work and retooled sounds on more recent songs, I think their fans would beg to disagree.


Miscellaneous Notes:


Tegan and Sara are beloved by their fans for telling hilarious, often rambling stories on stage, either as a set to songs, or just to amuse the audience. And this outing was no different. They told the harrowing tale of their father having them walk onto partially frozen rivers of Calgary, and a cheap way he entertained them: by turning off all the lights in their house and spying on the the neighbors with binoculars. It wasn't as creepy as it sounds.

Sara was really fond of the State Theater, but she felt it was maybe a little too fancy for their concert. "This is the nice venue," she said. "I don't really have any nice clothes."

Sara also told the story of writing the single off of So Jealous, "Walking with a Ghost." She said that it was originally composed for a potential kids' TV show (at the time she was feeling down about her ability to make a career in rock music). Her friends told her it was creepy and certainly not a kids' song.

Somebody shouted "Happy Thanksgiving!" to them on stage, as our neighbors to the north celebrate the holiday on Oct. 13 this year. Sara compared their Thanksgiving to ours saying that in Canada, they celebrate the harvest, while in the States, we celebrate genocide. "Just kidding. We did some really bad shit too," she concluded.



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