Ten years and a few months ago, Tegan and Sara released their album The Con. It’s an album full of heartbreak and anxious hope, which happened to be just what I needed at that moment in my life. I was eighteen years old and about to leave for college. Music helped keep me sane during those first few months of intense homesickness, and in particular, walking around campus with The Con playing on my iPod. Definitely one of the formative musical moments in my life.
That’s why I was incredibly excited when the band announced a ten-year album anniversary tour. I feel like at one point I probably said that my ideal Tegan and Sara concert would be for them to play The Con in its entirety, and this tour intended to do just that. Best of all, I was able to attend with my friend Lisa, who loves this band and album as much as I do. Our second floor balcony seats at the State Theatre were perfect for a low-key but emotional concert.
Perhaps this is a nerdy observation, but I loved the stage design for this show. The twins were on a lighted platform in the middle of the stage, which gave a more intimate feeling to a large theater. The backdrop featured album art from The Con and, for the second half of the show, smaller lights that looked like stars. There were two additional band members on keyboard and guitar.
Like much of Tegan and Sara’s work, The Con often deals with sad lyrics in deceptively upbeat ways. Not the synth-pop of their recent albums, but the quirky indie rock that came before. Although these songs were decidedly moody to begin with, this tour has new arrangements that make them moodier still. My personal favorites were “Knife Going In,” which was rendered deliciously creepy, and the last two songs from the album, “Dark Come Soon” and “Call It Off.” The other band members were utilized for eerie harmonies and atmospheric effects.
After playing through the album tracks, they played seven other songs from their repertoire with arrangements that fit the mood of the show. At my last Tegan and Sara concert, I was dazzled by Sara singing “Now I’m All Messed Up,” and now I’ve had opportunity to hear it again. There was also a slowed-down version of “The Ocean,” one of the best Tegan tracks off of Sainthood. I almost universally love acoustic versions of songs because you can appreciate the meaning and emotion of the lyrics, which made this an ideal show for me.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Tegan and Sara concert without storytelling and banter between the sisters. There was a running bit about Sara being the cat and Tegan being the dog of the band. They also told a hilarious story about Sam Smith sitting in front of them on an airplane and not knowing how to act. Even though stage banter is one of the hallmarks of the band, their pop tours leave less room for chatter. I was happy to be back in the realm of banter.
The Con X Tour is partially in support of the Tegan and Sara Foundation, the twins’ new organization to support LGBTQ women and girls. One of my favorite things about going to concerts for artists like Tegan and Sara is feeling surrounded by a loving and inclusive community. The angsty twentysomethings who recorded The Con are now changing the world. It’s a beautiful thing.