Date: August 3, 2005
Author: Craig Rosen
Publication: The Hollywood Reporter
Neil Young isn't only a rock 'n' roll icon -- he also has great taste in new talent. That was made clear by Tegan and Sara's engaging 80-minute set Monday night at the Henry Fonda Music Box Theatre. The twin Quin sisters from Canada signed to Vapor Records, run by Young and his manager Elliot Roberts, in 2000. Five years later, the folk-rock duo has developed a fan base large enough to sell out the Fonda and generate a line at the merchandise table that nearly stretched out the venue's front door.
Amazingly, the group's following has come with little airplay. Aside from spins on low-rated Indie 103.1 and public radio station KCRW, Tegan and Sara haven't received many spins locally. Still, that hasn't stopped word from spreading, and for good reason. In a day and age when prefab pop dominates the sales charts and music careers are launched in tandem with TV shows and commercials, Tegan and Sara are strikingly original, organic talents.
Backed by an ace three-piece band, Tegan and Sara shared vocals and alternated between acoustic and electric guitars. Both have unique, girlish voices that at times recall Sinead O'Connor and Kate Bush. When their voices join in harmony, it creates a sound unlike any other act on the pop map.
In the set opener, "I Bet It Stung," the twins sang, "I love the rock and roll" repeatedly, but it's not just another rock 'n' roll cliche. In "Stung," the line serves as sort of a mantra to help the song's protagonist deal with a rocky relationship.
The group's following also has broken rock stereotypes. During the set, both males and females shouted out cries of love directed at the duo, but rather than let such adoration go to their heads, the sisters deflated it with some quick-witted banter. At one point, the duo noted that a fan at a previous gig threw her bra onstage. "We're not the kind of band that you throw bras at," Tegan quipped. In this instance, they claimed that the fan asked for her undergarment back after the show, with Sara noting that bras can be expensive. Moments later, when a bra appeared onstage during "Not Tonight," it stopped her midsong.
Ex-Weezer and Rentals member Matt Sharp, who played on the group's latest effort, "So Jealous," joined the band on a few tracks, including "I Hear Noises." The group also played its Indie 103.1 radio hit, "Walking With a Ghost," late in the show, but their best moment came during a midset performance of "So Jealous." The track began as a droning hymn with Tegan on keyboards but transformed into a charging rocker before shifting back to the hymn-like quality.
As an encore, the band offered a subdued, slowed-down cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark," which ingeniously incorporated haunting keyboards that echoed some of Springsteen's moodier work. The Boss would have been proud.