Casual music fans often look at me in wonderment when I say that I have not only followed Tegan and Sara around Australia, but that I have also seen them six times in four states, in just two and a half years. ‘How could the sixth time be in any different than the first?’ they ask. Well let me start by saying anyone who needs to ask this question does not understand the majesty that is the Quin Twins. Every Tegan and Sara gig is different, each with their own charms, each with their own stories. In the event that I have kids, I will be able to at least share three memorable stories each for the six gigs I have so far attended as I pass on my albums to them.
This particular gig had a special significance for me, for I got to share the experience with two of my greatest friends. Candy, a fellow Tegan and Sara nut/stalker, I have attended five of my six Tegan and Sara gigs with her, she knew what she was in for, and just like me could predict each song within its opening bar. Krista by contrast was a Tegan and Sara 'virgin' and despite extensive foreshadowing by yours truly she seemed to be completely blown away by the experience, just like Candy and I were in Melbourne during our 2007 tour for our first ever show. We officially have another convert to the Quinist religion.
Before the main event arrived we were confronted by the two support acts. First up were The Jezebels a Sydney band that supported Tegan and Sara when I saw them in Adelaide at the beginning of last year. At that time the band were a pathetic mess, disjointed, uneven, a touch arrogant in their performance. However in these past 17 months they have markedly improved to become a tight, cohesive live act who recognise their strengths lie in the melodramatic, a lead singer Hayley Mary who is an exciting mix of Katy Steele and Katie Noonan, and violent percussion which drives their songs. Unfortunately the same praise cannot be heaped upon second support act Astronautalis (yes, Tegan and I don’t get that name either), a hip hop artist from the US who seemed violently out of place with the crowd. Imagine Eminem high on crystal meth and you might understand his pathetic act. Granted, I am not his target audience for I hate all hip hop, but his half an hour set seem to drag on for eons, using the same tired jokes and his ‘singing’ (i.e. screaming incomprehensively) sounded like fingers being repeatedly scratched on a chalk board. Only two people could rescue me from this catastrophe: Tegan and Sara, and that’s just what happened.
(Set list care of fellow Tegan and Sara mega fan Sarah Currin who managed to get it from guitarist/keyboardist, and all around good guy Ted Gowans)
The set started off with four of my favourite tracks from Tegan and Sara’s latest album Sainthood, which were superbly recreated in their live format. However I was worried after hearing the first six songs that none of the Quin Twins legendary banter would surface. Boy was I wrong. Tegan started in top form recounting how she was still recovering from jetlag and as a consequence consumed a (sugar free!) Red Bull resulting in her becoming hyper talkative. In trademark fashion she told the audience she regretted during her laundry the afternoon before as she was forced to sleep in a bikini top and short shorts facing a mirror (cue wolf whistles from yours truly and all the other Tegan worshippers). The hilarity continued throughout the set.
The thing that stood out about this setlist in particular was how perfectly paced it was. Audience favourites from Sainthood and The Con dominated the middle portion of the set with a reworking of Monday, Monday, Monday from their second record If It Was You, which was transformed into a slow tempo ballad. In fact this was the dominant trend throughout the night. I have always regarded Tegan and Sara as a very muscular, high energy live band, but this time it was the down tempo numbers that were my favourites. These included an acoustic version of their collaboration with dutch DJ Tiësto I Feel It In My Bones, which was purely masterful, and the original demo version of The Con’s lead single Back In Your Head, both performed during the five song encore.
The banter continued as Sara performed two songs with the lighting on the audience rather than the band, making sure to complement the crowd on their ‘above average attractiveness’. Tegan also kept the laughs coming with her frank, insightful and satirical comments on Australia’s gay marriage laws, and later in the set remarked that she wished she could invent a time machine to transport herself to an hour earlier so she could ‘Shut the fuck up’ my favourite banter moment of the night. If the time machine ever existed I’d kidnap the second Tegan and take her home with me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wished that were the case.
So as I heard Living Room close their set for the sixth time. I was already planning how I could see Tegan and Sara for the seventh time. There’s a reason they are my favourite live band. Sure they are great musicians, but what you see is what you get: quality music, no bullshit, lots of laughs and one hell of a good time.
Thank God for Tegan and Sara!