Show Review: Tegan and Sara with Holly Miranda at The Fox Theater, 3/5/10

by Jason LeRoy on March 6, 2010

Photo by Jared Hanson

A Tegan and Sara show is pretty much a sure thing. The Canadian pop-punk-folk duo’s songs are so tightly and energetically structured, so immediately accessible and entertaining, that a good time is basically guaranteed. Tegan Quin + Sara Quin + fans = party time. And at last night’s sold-out show in Oakland, that was certainly true. The Quins’ formula is so airtight that even if the girls seem bored (which they did), or if belligerent fans nearly bring the show to a halt with their bullshit (which they did), everyone will still hop and dance themselves crazy.

For years, Tegan and Sara were underground queer favorites. And yet, despite never having a breakout radio hit or riding a soundtrack to commercial fame, they’ve managed to get pretty damn huge. I haven’t experienced waves of adulation like the ones I felt last night since I saw Kylie Minogue at this same venue back in September.

Not that Tegan or Sara seemed especially excited by the devotion being poured out by their screaming fans. Their banter was clipped and joyless, and they generally seemed over it. Fortunately they had the strength of their material to fall back on. They pulled the majority of the evening’s songs from their latest album, Sainthood, with a good chunk from their previous effort, The Con, and a handful (not enough, in my opinion) from their breakthrough, So Jealous.

Fans knew exactly what they were getting, specifically because Tegan told us as much at the very beginning: “We’re going to play a bunch of new songs. Then we’re going to play a bunch of old songs.” Thanks for the itinerary. But yet another strength of their songs is that hardly any of them clock in at longer than three minutes, so T&S were able to blaze through a vast selection of tracks from their three biggest albums.

And then there were the fans. Something told me to avoid the pit last night, and my suspicions were confirmed relatively early in the evening. At first I just knew better than to try wedging my ungainly 6’2″ frame onto the dancefloor and risk blocking hundreds of 5’2″ power-punk lesbians from their heroes. I’ve been down this road enough times to know I’d just be asking for a night of dirty looks and sharp elbows.

But wait — there was more! I noticed as soon as the Quins took the stage that a lot of shit seemed to be flying through the air in their general direction. Mostly, I saw glow sticks. Yes, glow sticks. I have no idea what possesses someone to bring glow sticks to a rock show in 2010, but there you have it. And evidently, that wasn’t all that was being thrown.

Soon enough, Tegan was forced to give the audience a playful yet stern talking-to about all the cups of beer (?!) being pelted at the stage. “If that beer hits this electrical equipment and I get electrocuted, I will be so mad,” she said. Then she threatened to turn the lights on and have the culprits removed if it happened again. Fair enough. There should be some kind of government-issued concert pass that gets revoked by this kind of behavior.

And then, not long after that, a visibly frustrated Sara Quin scolded the crowd because a glow stick had nearly smacked her in the face between songs. Because there were seriously a shit-ton of glow sticks flying at the stage. I was actually making a mental note to Google “tegan sara glow sticks” when I got home, to see if maybe I was missing something, like a novice attending The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But no, they didn’t want the glow sticks. Although Sara did get a pretty good crack in about the kind of person who would own such a thing: “Maybe if I was on my way to rave and this was 1996, I would be excited to get some new glow sticks. But seriously, please stop throwing them.”

Anyway, despite the girls’ lack of enthusiasm and the awful people in the audience, it was still a dependably entertaining and energetic show. The much-buzzed-about opener, Holly Miranda, kicked things off on a beautiful and melodic note. With her soaring and emotive voice, she captivated the crowd with selections from her outstanding new album, The Magician’s Private Library. She seemed genuinely excited to be there, and no one threw shit at her. I’d call that a success.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gordon Elgart March 11, 2010 at 9:46 am

Do you know what’s awesome? If you Google “Tegan Sara glow sticks” now, you find this review. That’s awesome.

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