This was me when I found out rain had forced the Tegan & Sara show inside at Stage AE — without the Debbie Reynolds smooching, of course:
Now for my airing of thoughts, grievances and non-sequiturs to ponder.
Is it just me, or do lesbians only go see acts featuring openly gay musicians? I’ve never seen such a concentrated population in Pittsburgh before. Though I never went to Lilith Fair — my girlfriend at the time had her foot run over by a Mercedes on the way to the show.
Shows are just better indoors. I’m sorry if that ruins your buzz, man.
Buff dudes with no necks that have jockeyed for position at the front and center of the stage… and then proceed to sing every lyric to every song written by a female pop duo are f’ing awesome. Seriously. I love you guys.
I hate it when I don’t have any major complaints about a show. I feel like I’m not doing my job and resident mehssimist of this here site.
Opening acts aren’t always worth the effort of getting to a show on time. I have two kids I need to throw in bed — I can’t always ditch them with the wife for the witching hour. If I do just hand them over upon the wife walking in the door, you know I’ve been given a stern beatdown by the daughters. When parents talk about their need to drink, I’m willing to bet their born-again alcoholism results, almost entirely, from their children’s behavior between 5pm and 8pm. Thursday, I had one of those days. So I finished dinner, got the nod of approval from the wife and bailed. My reward: hearing My Midnight Heart. I don’t know if it’s wholly accurate but here was my initial response upon hearing the band:
Off the top of my head: MY MIDNIGHT HEART = Berlin fronted by pre-crooner Whitney Houston. Solid stuff.
— James David Patrick (@30hertzrumble) June 20, 2014
I was so smitten with the group I headed over the swag table to pick up an EP. Only, it wasn’t exactly an EP, per say. It was a gold-painted flash drive. I didn’t know how to process that in my matchbook of opinions of methods of media distribution so I walked back to the floor to get a better spot for Tegan & Sara. Before T&S’s encore I wandered back over and had smashing conversation with My Midnight Heart lead singer Angelica Allen about the thumb drive as a method for distributing music (“We can include videos too. And when you get all the stuff off, you can reuse it!”), the venue (“There’s no bad place to watch a show in here.”) and the extremely receptive crowd (“There was a ton of energy, I thought, for an opening act.”). I guarantee you’ll hear more from this band. Allen has a huge stage presence — and a huge voice.
Here’s “Chest of Hearts” from MY MIDNIGHT HEART:
But back to the main attraction: Tegan & Sara.
In case you can’t tell the identical twins apart by their disparate haircuts, that’s Tegan on the left. Sara on the right. I added a helpful guide.
Now that I’m thinking about the mental notes I made during the show, it’s possible today’s Rumble is still forthcoming.
What the hell is wrong with the music industry that Tegan & Sara aren’t one of the biggest acts on the planet? Is it the industry that promotes musicians? Or is it that people who listen to music are deaf? I’m going with a mixture of both. Take a look at today’s Billboard Hot 100 chart. Oh, don’t bother. I’ll do it for you. There are maybe four or five tracks on the entirety of the Top 100 that have hooks as good as anything on Tegan & Sara’s last record. Am I being too aggressive here? I don’t think so. Pick any track off that record — and it’ll be a better pop song than just about anything on the Billboard charts. Let’s give it a try. And we’ll start with the big guns. The #1 song on the Billboard 100 vs. the #1 single on Tegan & Sara’s Heartthrob.
Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” vs. Tegan & Sara’s “Closer”
Maybe it’s not a fair comparison because I honestly don’t understand the appeal of the Iggy Azalea track. Sounds like most other slices of summer regurgitation, a bulimic rap backed with lazy synth leading to a rubbish hook. Maybe my point’s overall poorly executed, but you get the idea. The idea is that Tegan & Sara have been banished to Indierockberia when they’re writing pure pop-music. Inherently palatable and easily accessible by all. Is there a ceiling to how good pop music can be? And once you cross that threshhold you become hipster scum? What am I missing here? Is it that they’re Canadian? Or that they play for the other team? That they don’t ride magical flying dildos onto stage?
But now about the show.
I’d heard much about their tours. I don’t know how I was never able to catch one of their shows before. I bypassed their trip to Pittsburgh last year because A) they were opening for fun. and B) it was outside. If I’m really into an act, I have no trouble paying a premium to watch them open for someone else. BUT. You compound the lukewarm reception of an opening act with the distracted attentions of an outdoor crowd AND a zeitgeisty headliner that makes me question the extent of humanity’s tone deafness, that’s a surefire recipe for 30Hz rage. Thankfully, T&S deemed Pittsburgh worthy of a return headlining trip. And thank goodness for that.
Some acts force banter. I’ve discussed the importance of banter here and there around the site for some time, but it probably requires some retread here. If you can’t banter, don’t. If you don’t like improvisational anecdotes, don’t improvise. I value an act that gets up there, plays their songs and goes home. It is, after all, all about the music. That said, an act that engages the crowd with earnest appreciation and enthusiasm amplifies the enjoyment of a show. The duo played a handful of songs before breaking for their first bout of banter. Sara does most of the talking, but both radiate off-the-cuff eloquence. During one song (I can’t remember which — shame on me) Sara lost her train of song and just kept strumming her guitar while she tried to figure out where she’d gone wrong. Tegan took it upon herself to shake her tambourine with greater exuberance, a mid-track tambourine jam and a bit of showmanship that allowed her sister to collect herself.
After the song, Sara shook off the misstep by relating songwriting to parenthood. She said she imagined that messing up a favorite song during a live set like was a lot like parenting. (And I’m paraphrasing here… ) You have two children. One destined to be a brilliant scholar. You know they’ll go far and do great things. The other, well, you just hope they eventually move out of the house. And then you just end up dropping the brilliant one on its head and you can’t help but think, as that future Nobel Prize winner tumbled to the ground… why couldn’t I have dropped the other one?
Sara boasts a bit of an edge, like a permanently dissatisfied singer-songwriter stuck on a lyric while Tegan comes off as the free spirit that would make everyone in the audience green tea if she had the opportunity. If I were casting their bio pic I’d go for Ellen Page and Anna Kendrick. But they’d have to be twins, so that complicates everything.
Was there something more to be said? Plenty. But I’m not a fan of the weather in Indieblogberia. I’ll just half-ass this last bit to make sure I don’t bust through that glass ceiling of quality blog writing.
In closing, here’s a tremendous, acoustic version of “I Was a Fool” from Heartthrob.
…and here’s another clip from the same event that showcases Sara’s humor and eloquence on the mic.