Show Review: Tegan & Sara @ The Kool Haus

“You’re a Moron, Here’s Why…”

A night of brutal honesty with Tegan & Sara

Jan 20th 2010

A bra thrown on stage during a rock concert is nothing new.  A bra thrown on stage during a female band’s set however, is a little uncommon.  That’s the thing with Calgary’s Tegan and Sara– they’re adored by boys and girls alike.  With good reason too; these twin sisters are talented, sweet and funny.  Oh, and they know how to put on an amazing live show.
Lesley Gore’s ‘Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows’ twinkles from the speakers as the girls take the stage at the Kool Haus, their second sold-out show in a row.  Without a word, they commence ‘Arrow’, the lead track from their new album, Sainthood.  Tegan takes the lead for a few songs before handing the spotlight back to Sara.  Proving that they’re both enormously talented, each twin plays both guitar and keyboard.  Like with lead vocals, they trade off every few songs.  While Tegan is the more talkative twin, it’s clear that this band’s material, talent and personality is evenly split.
During ‘On Directing’ we witness a “twin moment” as Sara screws up the lyrics and the two exchange a look.  They also indulge us in their infamous onstage anecdotes and banter.  We learn that Sara cried in public the first time she heard ‘The Cure’ (which Tegan co-wrote with AFI’s Hunter Burgan), that they used to wear ridiculously huge raver pants and that Sara is better at bullshitting than memorization. “That’s why I always wanted to be a lawyer…or a burglar” she admits.
Halfway through ‘Where Does the Good Go?’ Tegan directs everyone’s attention to some pushing near the stage.  “Are you trying to start a mosh pit?” she asks, amused.  Satisfied that everyone seems to be alright, they continue playing.  Later, between songs, Tegan decides to check on the situation.  With the house lights turned on, she spots the root of the problem. “You look really drunk! Yeaaaaahh” she laughs.  “If you can behave yourself you can stand at the back with one of these people with the yellow jackets on” she patronizes, as security removes the unruly fan to the sounds of applause.
Sainthood dominates the set list; played in its entirety in three segments over the course of the evening.  A good mix of 2007’s The Con and 2004’s So Jealous are strewn between, including heart-wrenching tracks like ‘Soil, Soil’ and ‘Speak Slow’.  One of the greatest things about Tegan and Sara’s music is their harmonies and near-perfect vocal arrangements.  Naturally, I feared that they wouldn’t be able to pull this off in a live format.  My fears completely disperse as they nail each and every song. I wonder if their synchronicity has anything to do with sharing the womb?
‘The Con’ wraps up the impressive 23 song set.  For the encore, the girls come out sans accompaniment.  They perform a stripped down version of ‘Feel It in My Bones’ which is normally done to the beats of DJ Tiesto, and ‘My Number’ from 2000’s This Business of Art.  One verse into The Con’s ‘Call it Off’, Sara does just that, choking on seemingly nothing at all. A fan tosses her psychedelic-print bra onstage, which Sara uses to wipe her streaming eyes.  While her sister recovers, Tegan has the crowd start the song from the beginning.  Clearly the room is full of hardcore fans because they know every lyric and vocal nuance, inducing goosebumps on every arm.  The band rejoins the girls onstage for the very last song, ‘Living Room’ from 2002’s If It Was You.  Its banjo-picking country rhythm gets everyone bouncing and ends the night perfectly.
It’s fair to say that in their 10-plus years as a group, Tegan and Sara have perfected the art of a great live show.  Not only do they sing their hearts out, they play an unprecedented amount of songs and are funny as hell.  Even though they’ve clearly hit the top, there is not one ounce of “celebrity” in them.  Not only are they incredibly thankful for their support, their frank, humble way of chatting with their audience makes you feel more like their friend than a spectator.  If we’re lucky we’ll get to see these two on the Toronto stop of this summer’s Lilith Fair tour.
(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- Feb 9 2010)


About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on February 27, 2011, in Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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