March 16, 2001
Not quite folk: Tegan and Sara reveal musical acumen
By Jon Kaye
Big fan of these gals
March 16, 2001
Thanks to Steph for passing along this article.

Artist: Tegan and Sara Genre: Alternative Venue: Eddie's Attic, Decatur, GA Date: Monday, March 12 Rating: 4.5 stars

If you have had any experience with the unique sound of Canadian singer-songwriters Tegan and Sara, you might think of their music as having distinctly folk qualities, but they proved otherwise at a packed Eddie's Attic on Monday night. The twin sisters rocked the house with their aggressive blend of uncompromising lyrics and vibrant guitar accompaniment.

They pair tout socially conscious lyrics and confident use of acoustic guitar, and though many critics have likened their sound to that of Ani DiFranco, Tegan and Sara tend to avoid comparisons with that accomplished artist. As Tegan observed, "We shy away from Ani DiFranco. Just because we are girls who can sing doesn't mean that our music is similar." However, she then followed that observation by noting that "We've gone full circle," referring to the fact that they have now grown to accept the comparison with DiFranco. She argues that while she and Sara do not really see a resemblance to Ani DiFranco's style of music, they are now willing to embrace a comparison with a woman who has gained so much critical acclaim.

Currently, Tegan and Sara have a style which has yet to find its way to American Top 40 radio. With a sound that is so different from the artists highlighted on Star 94, the sisters currently enjoy the small following of loyal fans, whose devotion was easily apparent at Eddie's Attic when the band prepared for their last song. As they readied themselves for the encore, the audience started shouting out requests for their favorite songs. In a last-minute vote, the band resolved to play "Superstar" as it garnered much more audience support than the runner up, "Divided."

Concerning their lack of airtime, Sara noted that she believes that they "fit nicely with some of the music on top 40 radio," because their style has such a dynamic appeal. Tegan added to that by mentioning that "the times are changing and there is much room for growth." She asserts that while many of the airwaves are currently dominated by boy-bands and Britney Spears-esque performers, "the mainstream will wait until we want to embrace it." On that note, she quipped that if they want to hit big on top 40 radio, "we'll have to wear tank-tops and get six-packs."

Curiously, Tegan and Sara listen to music completely unlike their own. Sara mentioned, "I'm not even sure that I really like our music," because when she plays a CD, she seldom chooses music from that style. Tegan mentioned that they write what they feel, and not necessarily based on the music that they hear elsewhere. Sara noted that one of her current favorites is Lauren Hill, whose smooth R&B style is radically different than the energetic brand of alternative which they play.

One of the most endearing traits of the Tegan and Sara pair is how well their personalities mesh. When asked if there is ever a sense of competition between them, Sara quickly put that question to rest with a direct, "no." She asserts that despite the fact that one might want to compare them because they are identical twins, they never feel any a sense of competitive angst between one another. Unlike many twins who have personalities as identical as their physical appearance, these two sisters have each developed a unique style and outlook on life.

Tegan, with her black hair and an understated piercing on her lip is the quieter of the two. On the other hand, bushy-haired, blonde Sara was always quick to crack a joke during the interview. Ironically though, their roles seemed to reverse on the stage. Behind the mic, Tegan dominated the banter, opening up with an observation that she always has irrational fears when she gets on stage. She joked, "Oh my gosh! What if my fly's unzipped?" Sara, on the other hand, seemed a tad more shy while she had her guitar in hand. All in all, their personalities fit together beautifully, both on and off stage.

However, the fans came not for the twins' witty repartee, but for their powerful music, and Tegan and Sara certainly delivered. From the moment that tourmate Melissa Ferrick introduced them to the instant that they belted out the last note of "Superstar," the audience was riveted. At this concert, Tegan and Sara proved that quality of their music transcends the bounds of the studio. As anyone who has heard it will agree, This Business of Art is an exceptional album, yet the sisters showed that they do not need clever studio magic to produce captivating music. With just Tegan, Sara, and a pair of Martin guitars, they produced music that was as good if not better than their first major-label release. As one fan put it best, "I've been a fan of theirs ever since I heard them on CD-Now, and I think this concert was incredible."