Tegan and Sara: My New Favorite Indie Pixies


It's morning now, and I'm still thinking about Tegan and Sara's show last night. Since I made the very rare-for-me move of not doing in-depth research on them or learning any of their songs before the concert, last night was a blank-slate first impression. It was a pleasant surprise, as the genre label "indie pop" didn't give me much of a heads up as to what we'd be hearing.

All I can say is they've got a new fan; I'll be reaching for their album when I need catharsis.

To me, their music has the attitude and occasional steel drums of Cyndi Lauper, a dash of Joan Jett's physicality and spunk packed in a pop box, moments of '90s N Sync sounds lurking in the background of some songs, a sprinkling of pixie dust and a special, happy-and-grounded moxie that I don't know where I've heard.

They have honed their tight sound over 15 years of touring and recording -- they're 34 -- and the result is these two project the image they're one unified soul in two bodies, with twice as much oomph as pop duos who aren't twin sisters. I don't usually like pop music, but these two have brought it into a new generation in a very relatable and real way for even non-genre listeners.

I also appreciated that they brought a sense of humor and charm to the stage, with witty stories about life on tour, never knowing where you are. Another smart move they made for the tour was to invite their younger cousin's band, The Courtneys, a pop trio with a punk backbone, made up of three women named Courtney who play drums, bass and guitar and sing in nearly identical voices. They warmed up the audience with charming songs about being abducted by aliens and dating vampires.

The second opening band was a step out of genre completely, but I was thankful to be introduced to My Midnight Heart, a Puerto Rican-American vocalist named Angelica Marie who sang over prerecorded tracks with a live drummer. The best I can describe it is that her voice, the set's primary instrument, had the range and power of Aretha Franklin, but the weird, eerie, dreamlike aesthetic of Florence and the Machine. She danced to Caribbean rhythms, never standing still yet keeping her voice steady and powerful, while belting out her dreamscapes. At one point, she told the audience she always feels a little awkward up on stage dancing by herself, so she invited the audience to sway with her. I noticed no one in our pretty homogenous crowd had in their whole body the looseness, fluidity and grace she possessed in one pinky. But we tried. :)

If Tegan and Sara come back to Grand Rapids again sometime, I'll be there.

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1 comment:

Adam said...

A very good synthesis of a very good show. I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and they helped me uncork mine.

All three acts were pleasant surprises.

The Courtney's: They played catchy punk songs with, guts, so I agree with your summary. Their lyrics and style made it clear they wish it was 1986, so I hope that happens for them someday. ;)

My Midnight Heart: a really solid drummer, sometimes-ethereal-and-sometimes-booming dance tapes, and a singer who played her voice like a wizardess. I agree with you that she's a virtuoso and I think more people will be seeing and hearing her soon. (By the way, "dance tapes"? I guess I wish it were 1986 too.)

Tegan and Sara: especially like your comparison to "the physicality of Joan Jett." Jett is threatening, and T&S channel as much of that boldness as pop can handle, all while the sisters remained completely charming. I almost never listen to pop, but that stuff was great -- full of catchy sound and crunchy substance!

Thanks for finding the musical connections and sharing your thoughful reactions, Rachel!