Date: October 5, 2005
Author: Kennteh Partridge
Publication: Hartford Courant
Headline: Tegan And Sara Knock It Out
The Canadian twin-sister act Tegan and Sara is commonly referred to as "folk-rock," a label that is as stifling as it is undeserved. For starters, what kind of folk singers play power chords on electric guitars and get haircuts like David Bowie circa "Ziggy Stardust?"
In actuality, Tegan and Sara owe more to Liz Phair than Lilith Fair, and Monday night at Toad's Place in New Haven the pair of droll, mulleted siblings worked up a collection of songs full of skronking guitars and exceptional pop hooks. At least one girl was on acoustic at all times, but the Baez sisters this was not.
The night kicked off with two bands that, had Tegan and Sara been a couple of caterwauling folkies, might have stolen the show. Marjorie Fair went first, playing a set of songs reminiscent of the Doves and Coldplay that hung in the air like the illuminated paper lanterns decorating the stage. More soothing background music you could not ask for.
Up next was the female rap group Northern State. The Long Island trio does the old-school-Beastie-Boys thing about as well as anyone, but its songs don't differ much from one another or offer anything special live. They mostly feel like inside jokes set to repetitive beats, which is fun for a few songs but not a full 40 minutes.
That left Tegan and Sara to knock the crowd dead - a task they were more than up to. They opened with "I Can't Take It," mixing their own guitars with the bass, drums and additional guitar of their backing band to create an oddly intense three-minute listening experience.
With "I Know I Know I Know," the sisters added more power and pop, as a bright keyboard riff punctuated the song's melodic churn. On "Walking With a Ghost," the band summoned phantom traces of the '80s, Sara sounding like Cyndi Lauper on "Time After Time."
Throughout the evening, the pair operated just outside of time, its songs falling somewhere between Lauper and the girl-led alt-rock of the early '90s. In some alternate universe, where there was a decade separating the '80s and '90s, Tegan and Sara probably drive Benzes and sell like Mariah Carey.
For an encore, Sara sang a pared-down version of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark." When she came to the line, "There's something happening somewhere," she repeated it three times, emphasizing what everyone in the room already knew: That "somewhere" was right under her feet.