SLCR #185: Tegan & Sara (March 4, 2013)
I can think of precisely nothing interesting for a backstory. I am not the biggest Tegan & Sara fan on Earth, but I like them well enough. Mika likes some of their songs and not others. The concert was announced and I didn’t buy tickets. Then an ad caught me at a weak moment and I bought tickets. When the day of the show rolled around, I half thought it wouldn’t happen because there had been a big ol’ blizzard the day before and T&S had to make it in from Edmonton, which is about an eight-hour drive (and, in my experience, longer when a good chunk of the roads are marked as “travel not recommended”). But I looked at their Twitter and their Twitter said they made it so the show was a go.
Between Sarah Slean last week and Tegan & Sara this week, I’m starting to feel slightly insecure about my masculinity in regards to my music choices. We’re off to see Leonard Cohen tomorrow, and while Cohen himself is surely manly, I’m not that going to his show says anything about me other than “wow, there’s a lot of grey around those temples.”
…and that’s all I had written as of Friday morning. Just before leaving work on Friday afternoon, I found out that Leonard Cohen’s show had been postponed until the end of April. Friday evening, I discovered that I would likely need to reschedule what day I went to Hawksley Workman’s musical. This, of course, is all my fault for prepping a half-dozen text files for upcoming reviews, all of which now need editing. In protest of this extra work, I put off this concert review until now. Now I need to get it done and I need to write a speech for Toastmasters on Wednesday and I need to spend all Tuesday in training for work so I’m pretty much well under the gun. Good job, me! At least I got that quality Bejeweled Blitz time in yesterday.
The last time I saw Tegan & Sara was in the basement of the Conexus Arts Centre. This time, they’d graduated to the main stage. I’d suggest that their fans got older and more appreciative of sitting down, but that was very much not the case. The crowd was very female and very young (Mika: “SO MANY LEGGINGS”) and I felt quite out of place. I was hoping I could cling onto Mika’s arm and get away with looking like a guy who’d been dragged there, but I don’t think anyone bought that, largely because I don’t think anyone gave the slightest care one way or the other.
When I bought the tickets, I bought the best available aisle seats. It turns out that Row L is number one and the best. There are no seats directly in front of the two seats on the end, so we didn’t have to do any of that stand-sit-stand-sit-stand-sit nonsense as other people came and went. Row L for Legroom (rejected name: “Row L for Lots of space for our legs”) was a great discovery and if I can’t get front row, I want Row L aisle seats. It’s a good thing I’ve done such a poor job of making friends in Regina; otherwise, I’d be afraid that someone might steal these seats on me.
The opening act was Diana. We were never sure if Diana was the singer’s name, the band’s name, or both. I suppose I could look now, but… y’know. They played some 80’s-sounding dancey pop (complete with drum machine and a saxophone solo) and it was fine enough. Not so much my thing, but then I don’t really listen to a lot of music that one could dance to. I did enjoy when they shilled for Tegan & Sara’s new record and either Tegan or Sara yelled “earn your keep!” from the side of the stage.
There has to be a smooth way to segue into how “I don’t really listen to a lot of music that one could dance to” and that “Tegan & Sara’s new record” is just that and how it hasn’t really been a hit with me so far, but that will do. Really, I’ve never been an album guy with Tegan & Sara. Give me some time with one single and I’ll usually grow to really like it, but listening to a whole album in one go just doesn’t do it for me. It all kinda blends together and I lose interest. They’re not the only band I’m like that with, but it feels more pronounced with this record. It was made to be poppier and dancier and I assume that’s why. I have read a bit on the internet about how this was more Sara’s album and most of my favourite T&S songs are ones that Tegan wrote. I haven’t done enough research to see if there was any truth whatsoever to this, though. It is a pretty rare album that makes me think “Yeah! Research!”
Tegan & Sara opened with two of their bigger singles, Back In Your Head and Walking With a Ghost. There were a handful of other older tracks during the show, including an encore medley which featured Speak Slow, You Wouldn’t Like Me, On Directing, Arrow, and others. (No sign of Hell, which is probably my favourite of their songs; oh well.) But most of the show was dedicated to their new record (if they didn’t play the whole thing, they played almost all of it), and I felt about the same watching it live as I did hearing the album: I didn’t dislike any of it, but none of the new songs really stood out either.
There were three non-musical highlights on this particular evening:
- This one guy who came to dance and didn’t care that nobody around him was dancing. He was super passionate about his dance mission; so much so that Tegan or Sara or whoever handles their Twitter account singled him out after the show.
- This one balding guy in the crowd who had a straight line of hair down the middle of his bald spot, giving his head the appearance of being a butt.
- Storytime! I enjoyed Sara talking about riding the Mindbender roller coaster at West Edmonton Mall (and Tegan wondering what, exactly, this had to do with Regina), but the best story – and indeed, the best part of the whole night – was the story about Tegan & Sara’s one and only solo show. Years ago (I think the year before I moved to Regina), Tegan & Sara were to perform at the Regina Folk Festival. However, a massive blackout hit the eastern part of North America, grounding flights. So when Tegan got to Regina (from Vancouver, I think), she found out that Sara wasn’t going to make it but everyone (meaning Sara, their mom, and their manager) encouraged her to play the show by herself. Tegan got as far as mentioning being picked up at the airport by a Folk Festival volunteer when someone yelled from the crowd, “that was me!” Tegan asked for proof, and the fan responded with more than enough details to confirm her identity. The volunteer talked about going to Walmart and picking up art supplies, then coming back to the Folk Festival where Tegan gave her Sara’s backstage pass. Tegan then lay down on some cardboard and the volunteer traced her (Sara: “For those that can’t hear, they basically made a Bristol board me and taped it to a mic stand”) and “when I traced between your legs, you said ‘do you know how many people want to be you right now?'” (Sara: “Sounds like her.”) and apparently Tegan threw up from nerves before doing the show, and she didn’t know Sara’s parts so the crowd sang them, and everything was great. Tegan seemed completely delighted by this story. The whole thing went over so well you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a rehearsed bit that happens at every show.
This makes it sound like I didn’t like the show, or at least the singing bits. This is not true! The day after the show, Dave asked me how it was and I said “it was a perfectly fine performance by a band I like well enough,” and I think that’s fair. There are shows where I’m blown away and there are shows I have no patience for. And then there are shows where I go “that was fine.”
Remember when these reviews used to be full of drunken adventures? Mostly other people’s drunken adventures, but still. They entertained. I clearly need to spend more time with drunks. This is an open invitation to any of my friends who haven’t got their shit together yet: come to shows with me.
- • The God That Comes (Thursday, March 21? Friday, March 22? Both?)
- • Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s Birthday Spectacular (with Teddy Celebration, Mark Mills, Scenic Route to Alaska, and Cole Hruska – Saturday, March 23)
- • presumably some sort of Junofest stuff over Junos weekend, which I’ll combine with the review of the
- • JUNO Songwriters Circle (Sunday, April 21)
- • Leonard Cohen (Sunday, April 28)
- • They Might Be Giants (Saturday, June 1)