Concert Reviews

Tegan and Sara approach Sainthood at the Ogden Theatre

Tegan and Sara • Steel Train • Holly Miranda
04.4.10 | Ogden Theatre

There is some dumb joke to be had about a band playing on Easter in support of an album called Sainthood, but let's not take the easy way out here. Because Tegan and Sara is fifteen years into its career in "indie" rock, and the act's music is generally on the uptick.

The thing most worth knowing about Tegan and Sara is that the group's appeal is as great or slightly greater now than it has ever been, which is why it is able to do two things on a non-rock and roll holiday: 1) Pack a huge theater and 2) Get the loudest cheers for the newest songs.

A surprising thing you learn at a Tegan and Sara show is that the sisters are cute relative to the butchness of their image. As in: Sara affects a little British accent for a piece of banter and a crowd member is overheard saying to her friend, "Awwww, how cute."

Tegan, meanwhile, is right in the middle of wondering why it is that everyone smokes pot during Sara's songs but not her's (Tegan has decided it's because people feel as though Sara is in their heads. Sara thinks it's because Tegan is sort of harsh) when she spots trouble in the crowd:

A girl has gone down close to the stage. Tegan demands house lights, and gets security in there to retrieve her. It's cute because of the way she is singling out to this girl, talking to her in the kind of sentences you construct when you are talking to a puppy.

Note: It's not condescending here. Tegan is sure to stress that she's been there. But nonetheless, the whole incident seems very warm and intimate, this pretty famous Canadian rock star showing individual concern for a girl in the crowd.

Don't get the wrong idea, though: The Quin sisters aren't pushovers. Again, they're only cute relative to their image, and their image is that whatever vulnerability is in their lyrics is under control, and also that they could kick the crap out of most indie bands. Those things are very much true.

The siblings' sexuality is germane to the extent that sex in general is germane to pop music, which is completely. Both sisters are lesbians, something they try hard to not make the central feature of the discourse on their band.

These two are not cross-bearers -- the only real reference to their love lives comes when Tegan jokes about what they do on the road with opening acts Steel Train and Holly Miranda besides play Scrabble. Still, it would be pussyfooting not to observe that a disproportionate number of people attending this show are lesbians.

That has everything to do with the sociology of pop music and nothing to do with the music itself: Meaning people gravitate to musicians they can relate to. The music, meanwhile, is familiar by now -- a hybrid of new wave and garage rock with the best tightly-wound melodies of emo. In a long-ish set, the ladies didn't play a single dud of a song; the pace never slowed. A testament to the depth of their catalogue and their insanely charming stage presence.

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: Personal Bias: I casually like Tegan and Sara, enough to buy maybe every other record they release. By The Way: Both openers, Steel Train and Holly Miranda, are remarkable up-and-comers -- synth heavy but in a good way. Random Detail: Overheard a bartender saying to a girl, "As long as you aren't with The Westword," as I walked by. No idea what that could have been a reference to, but there you go.