Tegan and Sara delight Boston faithful at the Orpheum

A review of Tegan and Sara at the Orpheum Theatre on February 13, 2010

, Editor-in-Chief

As a part of their extensive winter tour, indie rock outfit Tegan and Sara dropped by the Orpheum this past weekend. Touring in support of the latest release, Sainthood, the pair of Canadian sisters delighted their faithful Boston fans with a set that delivered plenty of new tunes with old favorites for an enjoyable evening.

The excitement in the air was palpable as the audience anticipated the band hitting the stage. When the lights finally dimmed, an excited roar like you’ve never heard erupted from all around the old venue. A backdrop with a crude drawing slowly lowered from the ceiling as “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” played, and it was to this song that the twins and their band took the stage. They wasted no time in getting the ball rolling, launching into a cut from their new album, Sainthood, entitled “The Ocean.” Right off the bat it was clear that this was a band extremely comfortable with being up on the stage. Tegan and Sara took center focus, of course, but the other musicians were tight and on their game all evening. Johnny Andrews’ drumming, in particular, was spirited and confident. The two sisters spent most of their time on guitar, though for a few songs one would take a spot at the keyboard.

The sisters took full advantage of their similar vocal abilities throughout the evening: vocal harmonies popped up everywhere, most of them fairly intricate in their execution, and really was the main focus of the evening. There was little in the way of guitar solos or anything like that, but this isn’t a band going for that kind of aesthetic. What we got, then, was an extended sing-along. Most people at the show knew every word to each of the 25+ song set. Every new tune was met with riotous cheers and applause. “Where Does The Good Go” was especially well-received, the singing from on-stage almost entirely obscured by the crowd’s joining in.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tegan and Sara concert without extensive stage banter, and in this department the two certainly delivered. In between songs, Sara went into a long explanation about her radio-listening habits as a child, which led to a discussion of her love of Motown, which led to her telling us about how she’d always wanted to be an R&B singer, all in all taking up a good seven minutes to do so. Now, there are some artists who couldn’t get away with even one minute of stage banter, but Tegan and Sara have the unique ability to be able to talk their heads off without bringing anyone to impatience. It’s kind of uncanny, really. At this point, long winded stories are virtually inseparable from seeing them live, so it’s simply a part of the package. Things did start to get a little same-y as the set continued along, though – it’s just the nature of Tegan and Sara’s music. There’s a heavy emphasis on lyrics, and the crowd noise often obscured the singing to the point that things got a bit muddy. This could be more a shortcoming of the Orpheum’s acoustics themselves, but it did detract from the show. It didn’t seem to bother the fans in the crowd, though, so more power to them. The show closed with “You Wouldn’t Like Me” before the band came back on for a lengthy encore, including “My Number” and “Living Room.”

There isn’t really too much else to say about the show. The banter was charming and added personality to the musicians on the stage, and the songs were highly personal, both for the perfumers and members of the audience. There’s a certain connection that people have to Tegan and Sara, and it’s hard to “get” it until that connection is made. We’ve all got that band we adore, and the live performance is where to go to ride that wave with a like-minded group. Tegan and Sara are that band for a lot of people, it seems, and delivered a meaningful and fun performance for those fans.
Holly Miranda and her band kicked off the night, playing a set of a half-hour or so. Miranda’s music was notably different from the main act: they wove dark and dreamy soundscapes together, Miranda’s vocals haunting, jumping through her extensive range through the performance. Miranda was also fairly quiet (something Tegan was quick to point out), though her energy on stage was unmistakable. Though the two acts varied in musical character from one another, the underlying energy was very similar. Miranda did a good job setting the stage for the headliner, but also brought positive attention to herself and her excellent band.

New Jersey’s Steel Train followed with another opening set that impressed the near capacity crowd.


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