So anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge proponent of the “Better Late Than Never” camp… and even though I’ve got a million things to do before going to Australia (and even though it is possible everyone has already forgotten about the last few months with the speed that things seem to happen around here), it didn’t seem right for me to move on to Australia without some comments on this past tour.
For starters, I would like to put this past tour into the category of BEST. TOUR. EVER. Every tour is fun and different and so is every show, but I have never before so looked forward to each and every single show… which is quite a feat, considering that I think I saw more shows on this tour than I have any other single tour they’ve done (yayyy unemployment… if nothing else, you have a LOT of free time. Especially to wonder about what you’re doing with your life and how you’re going to pay for it.) I think there were… 16 shows? Jesus, I don’t even think I’d counted them before then. Holy cow. To recap, they were: Northampton-Boston-Brooklyn-UpperDarby/Philadelphia-D.C.-Richmond-Atlanta-New Orleans-Austin-Houston-Minneapolis-Milwaukee-Chicago-Royal Oak/Detroit-Lakewood/Cleveland-Portland. Umm, yes. Wow.
Right. So. Back to my point. I’ve always loved Tegan and Sara’s live shows, and for the most part, I’ve usually loved their openers too. But there was just something about the stage presence and chemistry of and between these three bands that just made every show insanely good. It was like every night I wasn’t just going to see Tegan and Sara, I was going to see three bands I really really enjoyed, and who clearly really enjoyed each other. As @JanayS_Kinney said at the Royal Oak show, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen three bands so obsessed with each other. I love it.” I loved it too. After the brief break in the tour in March, Jack from Steel Train commented on how weird it had been to go off on their own for a few weeks. They got to do some really cool shows in the interim, he said, like SXSW, but that it was almost like “when your mom drops you off at a sleepover, and even though you wanted to go, you’re really totally miserable and just want to go home the whole time and don’t feel better until your mom picks you up and you’re home again. Well, we’re home and one big happy family again.” Such an awesome analogy. Watching the arc of them all meeting for the first time in Northampton evolve into saying emotional goodbyes to each other at the last show in Portland, was just so cool, and really sweet to witness.
What was so great about them all, you might ask? Holly Miranda’s absolutely beautiful voice. The poignant lyrics and haunting, ethereal sound of her music. Steel Train’s energy and enthusiasm. Their careful balance of upbeat-depressing that is just completely fun to rock out to then and ponder later. The way that each band gradually incorporated the other into their acts (see Holly Miranda’s “Pelican Rapids” and “Sleep on Fire” and Steel Train’s “SOG Burning in Hell”), making things more interesting and more powerful. If there were anything I could have wished for, it would have been that Tegan and Sara could still join their openers onstage to make everything even more integrated and amazing (see Tegan accompanying Rachel Cantu and Vivek Shraya during their sets in 2005, or Communique coming back onstage during T&S’s set to do backing vocals for “Time Running,” also in 2005). I wish, at least, that they could have found a way to incorporate Steel Train and Holly Miranda into just one song of their set. It could have been amazing. (Any suggestions on how/which song?)
As for Tegan and Sara, well, they just get better and better all the time. The more they sink into this album, the more they nail everything (with the usual exception of Tegan and some lyrics) like a well-oiled machine. Since I couldn’t quite narrow it down to 10 (underinclusive is not my style), I’m picking my Top 20 moments from all of the shows this past tour.
#20 Performance of Alligator – Portland
My favorite of all the shows, as far as music went, had to have been Portland… though every show before that was tight and together, there was something about the *conviction* they played with in Portland that just made it a more intense, high-powered show than any of the others. It’s hard to describe exactly what was different, but everyone I talked to afterward seemed to feel it too. I felt like Tegan and Sara performed all of the songs, but this one in particular, more emphatically than I thought was even possible. Sara on the bridge here – especially convincing.
#19 “Unsolicited Boobies” – Washington, D.C.
This was a fun show for me because it was my home, my town, and even my former office building right across the street. Even though it’s always slightly anticlimactic not to GO anywhere for a show (I know, it’s got to be difficult to be exciting, right?) it was really fun (and kind of surreal) to introduce my best friends and roommates in D.C. to a little bit of my world. Though I think this resulted in them thinking I’m even crazier than they already thought I was, they all seemed to have a really good time, and still laugh about Tegan’s “unsolicited boobies” tangent (and especially about her covering her eyes later when a group of girls started yelling her name). Good job, guys. ;)
#18 The Ceiling at the Aragon – Chicago
Once I got over my anxiety attacks about being up in the balcony for a change, it was actually kind of cool. The venue was surreal, and watching the swirling mob of a crowd below was a hell of a lot better than being IN it. Plus, a lot of you seemed to like the different view. Still not sure whether I could do it again, though. ;)
#17 Sara Jumped Rope – Milwaukee
Before we had a visual of Sara jumping rope, we had to try to picture it. Which was actually pretty hard.
#16 Steel Train & Holly Miranda Cover “Under Pressure” – Chicago
They must not have thought it went well because they didn’t try it again, but it was so cool that they tried! We all got so excited when they started playing the intro… it was either going to be “Under Pressure” or “Ice Ice Baby,” and pretty much either one would have been awesome… for distinctly different reasons. Heh.
#15 Sara Raps Bone Thugs – Minneapolis
Sara, you never cease to surprise us. Bone Thugs n Harmony was one of your favorite bands? Wow… but then again, they were also the favorite band of my ex-girlfriend who dragged me to the first Tegan and Sara show I ever saw. Go figure.
#14 Tegan Slow Dancing – Royal Oak
Did everyone else notice Tegan taking the lead role? I thought so.
#13 Steel Train Covering “Dancing in the Dark” – Portland
Dude, this song was MADE for these guys to cover it! Not that I don’t love Tegan and Sara’s cover of it, I do… but man, Steel Train KILLED it. The video doesn’t even do justice to the energy and awesomeness this performance had.
#12 Revisiting the Variety Playhouse – Atlanta
Even though I didn’t originally plan on going to this show, I couldn’t resist. I haven’t missed a Tegan and Sara show in Atlanta since my first show in 2004 (when I was still living in Atlanta)… and seeing as how the first show of theirs I ever saw was at the Variety Playhouse (opening for Melissa Ferrick at the time), it had just a little bit of sentimental value for me. I don’t remember much about my first T&S show at all, and I have never been able to find video of it. The only thing I specifically remember is being captivated by “Where Does the Good Go.” The world comes full circle yet again.
#11 Tegan’s Manicure Trauma – Brooklyn
If picturing Tegan getting a manicure isn’t funny, I don’t know what is. Except maybe watching her hyperventilate while retelling the story.
#10 Meeting Really Awesome People – Everywhere
This would be no fun at all if it weren’t for the people. Live twittercasting with @winkedinkie and @JulieIsntMyName as we drove from Austin to Houston. Trying to figure out how to start a Prius with @runnerup in New Orleans. Freezing outside in the snow with @njmisfit, @JoeYTeacups, @LBoogie_, @alovesickbruise, @sansei3, @inaccuratemap, @hoosierforlife and even @bethofalltrades in Brooklyn. Sleeping on @bastiannarten’s couch in Atlanta and @MrRory’s parents’ living room floor in Detroit with @MrTubes, @WeaselWarrior, and @HammyCamey. It is the friends I’ve made doing this over the years that make this fun and worth it. Not to mention that this time around I finally got to meet my awesome and ridiculously committed YouTube bitch assistant @JanayS_Kinney, and accompany her to her first ever Tegan and Sara show! (After watching and labeling about a billion of my concert videos, I thought she’d pass out finally seeing them in 3D. But she did fine. ;) Much thanks to Janay’s friends who allowed me to drag her all of the way to the front railing… it just wouldn’t have been the same without her. :)
In addition, there were just so many others… sharing a show with @austinaustin13 in Austin… meeting @Heather_D_ when she and I BOTH had awesomely special nights in Richmond (and she forgot to give me my birthday present ;)… chatting with @britt49 outside in Royal Oak… EVERYONE who was so awesome to us in Houston… all of the people who were so caring when I was in the hospital before Portland, and not to mention this time getting COOKIES (!!!!!!!) including homemade ones from @turtleturd6736 in Minneapolis and Oreos and fudge cookies from @rachelrjones in Cleveland! AMAZING. (Actually, if I met you on this last tour and you’re reading this, give me a shout out in the comments to say hi. You all are so much fun.)
#9 Inviting the Audience to the Encore – Houston
After dealing with some loud and difficult audiences (east coast, wtf? New Orleans… WTF??) it was bittersweet to see Sara especially getting so emotional about having an enthusiastic, respectful crowd. Sometimes I see people posting things like, “oh they didn’t talk that much, they must not have liked us, it must not have been a very good show…” and I think, no… when they audience is on the same page as them, they enjoy being onstage, and you can tell… and to me, *that’s* what makes a good show.
#8 Tegan Smiling During Alligator – Houston
One of my favorite pictures from the tour. Tegan was jamming in her own little world and playing the tiny keyboard solo in Alligator when the audience actually cheered for her. I took this right as she looked up when she heard them. I think it says it all.
#7 “Should Sara Sex It Up?” – Boston
Because I’ve retold this story too many times… oh Sara… LOL.
#6 Reinterpretation of Monday – Lakewood/Cleveland
SO excited to see hear this song make a comeback in the setlist! I hadn’t heard it live since 2007, I think, and I definitely didn’t have any good recordings of it (though I appear to have a number of bad sound quality clips from my old camera… woo hoo! If you’re interested, this is the longest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1stxyF3pqGI – New Orleans HOB, 2007). In any case… this remake of the song is simpler, darker and more dramatic. Who would have thought you could take a song with a music video involving a cartoon monkey and turn it into something so haunting? And how about Ted’s guitar part, huh?? Love it.
#5 Steel Train w/Holly Miranda & Gorilla – Portland
This song was one of the ones I most looked forward to every night because the drum breakdown at the end was what one review called “an absolute stunner.” Four people drumming at once, amazing. When more of Holly Miranda’s band joined in later shows, even more amazing. This last night, Holly Miranda herself joined in, accompanied by… a gorilla. Now this I can say for sure has never happened at a Tegan and Sara show before. The audience was so stunned that I don’t think anyone even noticed Tegan practically standing on the stage filming and laughing her ass off. Hilarious.
#4 Taking Requests – Brooklyn
I never thought I would see the day where Tegan and Sara would take requests from the audience again. Both of them are such perfectionists and control freaks that seeing them try to play something they honestly weren’t sure they could play was fascinating. They rarely vary their set list very much night to night, let alone make it up on the fly. I feel like this is especially true for Sara (since Tegan often *does* have to make up words on the fly, actually…) and so I was so proud of her stubborn attempts to try to play “Dancing in the Dark,” merely to refute Tegan’s assumption that she wouldn’t be able to do it. She didn’t get too far, but man, was I proud of her for trying. :) (Also, can’t lie, “Light Up” live was a very close second.)
#3 “Mark My Words,” Holly Miranda – Cleveland
LOVE. THIS. SONG. Love love love love love. Everything about it. If you don’t fall in love with her voice when she sings “for you” for the fourth time in the bridge, there is no hope for you. Now if only we could figure out that one word in the refrain.
#2 “This Is Everything” – Brooklyn
I actually got giddy when I heard them start to soundcheck this song. GIDDY. What was one song I would have killed to have my own live recording of? THIS ONE. (My only clip of it, with my old camera with lousy sound, was this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sV9EOU1SpI) I remember the same giddy feeling the first time I heard them play it live in 2005, when I was thrilled they were pulling out such an old song, such a good one, and one of my favorites, then and now. It’s so emotional, so powerful, and for me, so true. Having that moment where you tell the person you love more than anything in the world that they have to leave your life forever… I struggled to put that experience into words. Until I heard this song.
And Finally, #1… (Richmond)
Um, I mean, yeah. Just… yeah. Was there anything else I could have put??
And with that I will finish, because I tend to get carried away by these kinds of things and just need to accept the fact that there is always a ton of stuff I’ve missed or forgotten, and that it’s okay. If nothing else, this has for sure been a crazy reflection exercise/challenge for ME, and it was actually kind of cool to think of all I got to see and do (although my brain hurts just a little). BUT, please, tell me, what were YOUR favorite moments from the tour? Remind me of what I’ve forgotten and bitch at me for what I didn’t include. I’d really like to hear what was most special to you. Go for it. ;) See you in Australia!