I absolutely love Tegan and Sara. In fact I would go so far as to say I am “in love” with them, especially Sara. I am total in love with Sara Quin. Read all about my lame emotions here:
The Sara Quin Love Letter - http://colinkellymusicinreview.blogspot.ca/2012/02/sara-quin.html
So yeah...I really like Tegan and Sara, so when they decided to play two shows in Calgary during their Heartthrob tour I bought tickets to both shows. I was going to go get a big eye full of two very pretty girls and listen to them play some high emotion music, and that’s what I did. I had a blast.
I have always been very impressed with the emotions Tegan and Sara manage to stir in me, and now... I’m all messed up.
Now I know Tegan and Sara pretty well, because when I like something I typically learn just about all there is to know about it, and I immediately identified something was wrong the first night after the first few songs. Sara was singing two or three songs for every one Tegan was singing, and when Tegan barely got through their performance of “The Con,” as her voice was giving out, I turned to the two sisters from Montana that befriended me while waiting in line, and said “something is wrong with Tegan.” Later on I also noted that Sara sang lead on “Where Does the Good Go” a Tegan song, which is somewhat unusual.
The second night Tegan was clearly felling better. She sang stronger than the previous night and she treated us to songs like “Call it Off” which were absent in the first show. Tegan explained she had strep throat during one of her monologues and my suspicions were confirmed. I didn’t mind though, Tegan performed well in spite of her condition, but also I enjoyed the subtle interactions between the sisters. There was various times where Sara gave Tegan cues whenever her voice began to fade, mostly she would sing with her for a few lines until Tegan managed to pick her voice back up. There is a lot of personality in moments like that. Also I didn’t mind because Sara sang her ass off, and I love her.
I think my favorite moment in the concert was the second last song before the encore “Now I’m All Messed Up.” Sara sang this song amazingly. I love escalation in music, rising action if you will, and by the end of “Now I’m All Messed Up” Sara was yelling the chorus “Go if you want, I can’t stop you!” I like to use the term “high emotion” sometimes to describe really heavy heartfelt moments in songs, and this was definitely a high emotion moment. “Now I’m All Messed Up” was always a strong candidate for my favorite song on the new album Heartthrob and after seeing that live performance, twice, it has won my vote.
It is very clear that Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara’s seventh studio album, is the most pop album they have ever created. This does not offend me like it might some music critics (do I qualify yet?) because I do not have any preconceived notions that music can only be appreciated once it fits into a preapproved genre. This pop movement for the girls feels like a natural progression, their song writing has been gradually changing towards this direction the entire time and frankly I like this next step in their journey. Their last album, Sainthood, was their most rock and roll album, which is probably why it is my favorite, and it was canned by critics and apparently did not sell very well, so I highly suspect this trend of under appreciation to continue on for Heartthrob, because how dare anyone evolve as a band.
Every Tegan and Sara album was always more complicated than the one previous, and while we music critics do not like to admit it, a lot of pop songs are complicated. Granted it is easy to create a complex multilayer song when you let a machine do all the work for you, also it is easy to perform such songs live when all you do is press a play button on a machine and sing along (some don’t even do that), however that is not what is happening on Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob.
The Calgarian girls have come to a point where the two of them alone were unable to properly perform the songs they had written. By the time “So Jealous” came out they brought in Ted to play guitar and keyboard, also they have had to have a drummer with them since that time. Now they need a full band, a bass player, a drummer, a keyboarder and good old multi-talented Ted, as sixth are needed to perform this “pop” music live. In this somewhat rare example pop has equated to depth, and while I may personal prefer the more rock and roll Sainthood stylization I can definitely enjoy what is being accomplished on Heartthrob, especially on tracks like “Now I’m All Messed Up.” Having a full band frees up Tegan and Sara’s attention so they can focus on singing and that paid off big time during their latest live performances.
While I may normally be a tough guy listening to hard rock and metal music I have a soft spot, and apparently the best way to melt my heart is with strong sensitive identical twin lesbian indie pop rock. It makes sense when I think about it.
Until later this month, keep on rocking in the free world.
- Colin Kelly
Sure enough some enthusiastic gentleman ran up to me after the show and complimented me on my Blind Guardian t-shirt. I informed him of my plan that if I could find a girl who was into both Tegan and Sara and Blind Guardian I would be set.
To which he replied, “That’s an awesome plan... good luck with that dude.” Yeah, I’m going to need it. Thank you stranger.