Date: Friday, November 14, 2003 - ISSUE 21, VOLUME 131
Author: Tamsyn Burgmann
Publication: Queens University - The Journal
Headline: Twins Tegan and Sara’s maturing act
Indie grrl rockers still remain as cute and abrasive as ever
Tegan and Sara, ahem, rocking the Cocamo.The evening’s invasion began as the Montreal-based Unicorns took the stage in a spectacle of rank day-glo greens and pinks oozing from the skinny-boy trio’s assortment of suspenders, sneakers, belts and wigs.
Between mediocre hip hop covers and epileptic seizures inside a Star Trek-esque teleportation chamber, the Unicorns always found time to do what they do best—not play music, but instead bombard listeners and fans with a weak arsenal of profane insults.
“Fuck you if you don’t dance—we hate you,” they chimed throughout their 20-minute set.
If these boys’ new album is anything like their live performance, expect to hear the Strokes—with the suck-knob on the soundboard turned way up.
Next to land was Matt Sharp, who stripped down the sound on his guitar. The 35-minute set was an acoustic version of Great Big Sea, minus the eccentric percussion.
Soon, Sharp had shifted pretentiously from his do-good shy demeanor to utterly obnoxious. To my relief, his personality was put aside for a peaceful duet of “Not Tonight,” from Tegan and Sara’s third and latest album, If It Was You.
Tegan joined them next for one of Sharp’s tunes, adding more dynamic interest with both her voice and some hard work on the glockenspiel.
With their hands in on Sharp’s dull set, native Albertan twins Tegan and Sara Quin made a smooth transition into their own, and the “rawk” concert finally began.
Throughout the evening, the Polly Pocket-sized twins with cropped jet-black coifs interwove tales of matching Mickey Mouse sweatshirts with songs about losing at love and independence. Blending cool sincerity with their ultra-keener roots, Tegan and Sara were the highlight of the show, not the exception.
Stepping off the pages of a goth Precious Moments catalogue, the sisters share a petite stature and dainty features, but that’s where the similarities end. With her deeper, rough-hewn voice, Tegan held a motherly air during the show, perhaps born of her eight-minute seniority. Sara contrasted her sister in the style of a Cyndi Lauper who’s been born and raised in the Prairies.
With three albums and a wide repertoire to choose from, the girls dabbled briefly in their first and second albums, the independent release Under Feet Like Ours and the Hawksley Workman-produced This Business of Art. But instead of emphasizing their earlier Ani Difranco-wannabe folk rock, they focused on If It Was You, influenced by the return-to-the-garage movement of recent years.
Sharing the front, the girls’ set was evenly divided, with melodies oscillating between the full and throaty lead and songbird harmonizing. Songs like “You Went Away” and “Living Room” showcased the same spunk and charm heard on their albums.
Tegan and Sara’s faithful-to-the-album sound may have been an exercise in colouring between the lines, but it proved their true talent, producing gallery-worthy art.
Drummer Rob Chursinoff and bassist Chris Carlson delivered solid support, while Sharp accompanied on the glockenspiel.
Integral to every Tegan and Sara show was the girls’ adorable banter, and this show was no exception.
“The first time I came to Kingston was the first time I ever saw someone do a keg-stand, in a bikini, on a front lawn, in the winter,” Tegan informed us.
The girls were rightly disappointed with the crowd, who were receptive and attentive to chitchat but hesitant to groove, likely the consequence of the bands’ lack of jumping beans.
The night closed with an encore Prince cover (also formerly covered by Lauper), “When You Were Mine.” This move epitomized Tegan and Sara’s increasing maturity and burgeoning popularity.
The absence of pre-pubescent girls (setting the tone for last year’s femme-friendly fiesta), and the fact that male audience members were much improved spurs me to forecast the twins’ future will be bright.