Allow me to start by saying this: if you have read any of my music-related pieces for Edge, you probably think I am a bit of music snob. You would be partially correct.
I swear I’m trying to do better! I thought I hated Drake until I listened to “Nothing Was the Same,” which became one of my top ten albums of 2013. I’ve even warmed up to Lorde’s minimalist debut that dropped last year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; something changes when you began to listen to music critically; it’s as if everything that touches your ears falls through a filter, leaving your tastes refined and only the best resonating with you. Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned to try and throw my indie-cred instincts aside. I’ve gradually understood that there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure; you like what you like, and you like it for a reason (whether or not it’s a good one). This is what made Tegan and Sara’s recent performance an absolute blast.
To keep this shorter and sweeter than it could be, let me just say that opening act Bear Hands may be for you, even if it definitely wasn’t for me. While their studio material was nowhere near as rough as their live performance, the band plays fairly atypical college rock, complete with experimental instrumentation and off-key vocals. While the musicianship certainly had its interesting moments, from tribal drumming and electronic beats to Beach Boys-esque guitar work, the speak-sing vocals of Dylan Rau (like an even more jarring Tom Delonge) were tough to appreciate after a nearly 40-minute performance. As they left the stage, the crowd anxiously awaited the twins’ appearance on stage, eagerly and cautiously starting to applaud anytime the distant background music seemed to end.
As Tegan and Sara finally crossed the dark and foggy stage, uproar swept over the crowds they wasted no time diving into show opener “Drove Me Wild”. Setting the stage (no pun intended) for a “Heartthrob” heavy night, the set was packed with their uniquely successful 80’s electronica jams and angst-filled acoustic ballads. “Goodbye, Goodbye” proved particularly upbeat and fast-paced, concluding with the set’s first banter from Tegan (who spoke often throughout the first ten songs). Following up with ultimate crowd pleaser (and personal favorite) “Back in Your Head”, the girls were delighted to allow an energetic crowd sing along with the anthem line, “I’m not unfaithful, but I’ll stray/If I get a little scared”.
From there, the show took a bit of a somber turn, offering the dark (“Arrow”) and mid-temp (“Nineteen”) before returning to a focus “Heartthrob,” boasting incredible lights and strobes throughout “Shock to Your System” and “How Come You Don’t Want Me”. Closing with the epic “Closer”, Tegan and Sara seemed to enjoy themselves almost as much as the “hip” college crowd that surrounded them, screaming along and dancing half-heartedly. With a final epilogue regarding the importance of following your own path, Tegan and Sara left the stage- only to return after strong shouts of “Encore!” Tegan performed “Living Room” and “Call It Off” acoustically before playfully forgetting several of the words and making a beautiful final exit.
It was a night of (mostly) aural bliss, not only giving students a unique experience on a Saturday night but perhaps even bringing them “just a little bit closer: to the people we surround ourselves with and the music we use to decorate our lives. I’d like to provide special thanks to Andrew Skelly for inviting me to the campus and especially recommend picking up Tegan and Sara’s latest release, Heartthrob.