Both strapped on guitars and launched right into The Ocean, a fast-paced song from their new album with quick verses flowing into a calmer but powerfully catchy chorus: Its been so long since you said / Well I know what I want and what I want is right here with you. It took me back to those countless nights driving alone, blasting their music loud enough to drown out my own dreadful voice; belting the song out with a thousand strangers was amazingly refreshing. I dont want to admit that I was giddy, but I was.
They continued with two more songs from the new album, On Directing and The Cure, both pleading anthems about admitting mistakes and promising change. After plugging their new video and challenging those whod seen it to remember the dance moves, they struck the first chords to Alligator, a sharp-edged toe-tapper evocative of early Madonna piano-pop and driven [image-1]by a seriously grooving bassline that filled the room and demanded immediate dancing. When Sara cut through the all-drum breakdown with jazzy, deep synthesizer melodies, the place went bonkers. There are always those certain special moments in songs that you wait for at a live show, and this was one of them.
Tegan was quick to engage the audience, shameless in her skin, laughing at herself frequently. An extended exchange with the stage huggers involving a boob hat and the possibility that a few of them were lawyers from Ft. Lauderdale (something was definitely lost in translation here) encouraged more banter from the twins, who touched on intense family trials over monopoly, gave a hilarious account of a foolhardy security guard wielding a buck knife, and offered up childhood memories about looking too boyish at karate class. Sara was the more reserved of the two and sometimes even seemed embarrassed about Tegans candid disclosures of their tongue-tied past, revealing just how different the twins actually are despite wearing identical faces.
Tegan assured longtime fans that theyd play much of their older stuff and I was stoked about hearing the pop-punk melodies that were the soundtrack of my college life, the music that played as I navigated in and out of relationships
bad ones, good ones, one-night ones. They had a song that fit every situation I found myself enduring back then, like So Jealous, a one-time personal anthem of mine that permeated the auditorium and gave me chills. The verses are fleeting and self-reflective (I dont want to be part of the problem / I try so hard to get roughed up) but lead to an angry, shouted chorus that became the most thunderous moment of the show: I get so jealous, I cant even work. Im not ashamed to admit I got chills. It was not at all like the studio version, the second verse led by an assertive hi-hat measure and an intoxicating percussion groove by Tegan on bead shaker, and [image-2]the double-time rhythm contrasting with the long-winded lyrics and twisting the songs original quality into something entirely new. That verse was a highlight of the show and it even prompted a man ahead of me to put his 8-year-old kid onto his shoulders. The youngster waved his hands back and forth to the beat, all while wearing giant noise-cancelling headphones. I was puzzled but laughing my ass off at the same time.
Once the sisters made their exit, a tech jogged onto the stage and set up a glockenspiel. They re-emerged for the encore sans band and opened with a gentle, unplugged version of Back in Your Head, arguably one of their most commercially-recognizable songs. Tegan made the song extra playful by replacing the simple, all-too catchy piano notes with the tinkling bell-like tapping of her mallet against the glocks metal keys.
The ladies closed the show with the beautifully layered vocals of Call it Off, a short but oh-so-sweet number that Tegan confessed to writing when she was extremely depressed. It features some of her most moving lyrics: Maybe I wouldve been something youd be good at / Maybe you wouldve been something Id be good at. As she sang her heart out to the song, most of us joined along with her.
Overall, it was a wonderful evening. Thanks for stopping in our neck of the woods, ladies. For me, seeing you live was long overdue, but it came at just the right time.