This is Me Before I Come Undone











…like I haven’t felt it in a while. I don’t think I realized just how excited I was for Tegan and Sara to play not just one, but two shows at the 9:30 Club, a mere mile and a half from my house. Usually, for me, traveling to far and interesting places with new and old concert friends makes seeing shows near where I live feel downright anticlimactic. (Like, what kind of show is that when I don’t even have to go anywhere?? Haha…) But this time, I guess, Tegan and Sara weren’t playing at the huge Warner Theater or the huge and awkward Lisner Auditorium or the huge and even more awkward DAR Constitutional Hall or the ever-huger (ever-more-huge?) Patriot Center or Merriweather Pavilion (twice) or even the smaller Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore. No, this time they were playing at the 9:30 Club, a place that has become like home to me since I moved to DC seven years ago. I swear, I’ve seen almost every band I’ve ever followed there, and then some, including Metric, Hanson, Amanda Palmer, An Horse, Steel Train, Kaki King, Foals, Bloc Party, Cold War Kids, Citizen Cope, CSS, and the list goes on… I’ve even started a list of bands I’ve seen there before they blew up and got too big to play there, including Gotye, Mumford and Sons, Fun, Death Cab (though that was kind of a small-venue tour for them). I’ve even seen friends play there, including The Pushovers, who got me a press/backstage pass so that for once I could be on the other side of the barricades and see what the artists get to see. But I walk into that place and it feels like home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a show there and biked (or even walked) through the quiet streets on a post-show buzz back to my house. I’ve had my camera confiscated by their security so many times that it almost feels like a fond pasttime. (Almost.)

But I thought that I had lost the chance to see my favorite band of all time ever play there. I knew that they had played the 9:30 Club before I moved to DC in 2007 (as well as DC’s smaller well-known venue, Black Cat), and when they came to town right after I moved here and played at George Washington University’s Listner Auditorium, I figured that I would never get to see Tegan and Sara play in that awesome, intimate venue I loved. When they came back in 2010 and played Warner Theater, I lost a little more hope. And when they started revealing their ambitious plans for Heartthrob, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d missed that era here and would never see it again. I could travel the whole world over to see them play, and yet never see them in the one place that felt like “home.”

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But I was wrong. When they released these past tour dates, I couldn’t believe it. And when DC was one of the only cities with two dates AND one of the only cities to sell out the shows, I was so proud of this place I love! Walking into the Canadian embassy, which is only two blocks from my office, I felt so excited to have them playing somewhere so familiar… and walking into the 9:30 Club that first night for the soundcheck, I felt positively giddy (which maybe you can tell from watching the soundcheck video, since I usually try never to talk while I’m filming and almost never talk TO them while they’re performing, but this time I just couldn’t help myself… *embarrassed*) It felt amazing. It felt like they might as well have been playing in the living room of my house. It felt like all of the pride I have for living in this awesome city and all of the excitement I always have for seeing them live kind of collided into this feeling of like wanting to drag them around like a little kid drags their parents to see their paintings hung up in the classroom in kindergarten, like, “Look! Look! This is MY place! And this is MY desk!! And these are MY things!!!” (I mean obviously I didn’t, but that’s the only way I can think to describe that feeling, haha.)

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And then the shows were fantastic! Seeing them play at the Canadian Embassy, which I walk by almost every day but have never been inside of, was so cool (and being lucky enough to have a friend take me along after he won tickets was even better). Having them sing two songs to us while sitting on stools in the balcony of the 9:30 Club with just Ted playing an acoustic guitar to back them up because their bus had broken down and their equipment wasn’t set up yet, was maybe the most awesome, most intimate “performance” I’d ever been part of (even if it was an accident!) I got to introduce them to MY sister (who makes them look like elves) and to take a silly photo like the one on their tour merch and to see them try to crouch down in the front of a picture with Canadian military guys (why?? Did they think those guys couldn’t see over them?!) I was beyond excited, all over again, to be lucky enough to be front and dead center for my first time seeing them in this place. And they didn’t let me down, not at all. All of the shows on this tour have been exciting and energetic in a way that I feel they haven’t quite been in a while. Maybe it’s because it’s their first real headlining tour since they started touring for Heartthrob. Maybe it’s because Tegan and her super-confident awkwardness with the wireless microphone (and Sara’s apparent apprehension of her wireless microphone, lol) can’t fail to make anyone smile, even the friend I took last night who didn’t know any of their stuff. But it was great. Sara was on top of her inappropriate banter in a way that has been rare in the past few years. Even Tegan participated in the inappropriate banter, which is even more rare, haha. Tegan danced around like an idiot and totally knew it, which made it even better. I had the angle for their cover of Let My Love Open the Door that I’ve been dreaming of since the first time I saw them perform it. Tegan brought a terrified young fan onstage to play the tambourine for Sentimental Tune. Sara stuck up for Tegan while the audience was talking, and then Tegan let the crowd (badly!) sing Nineteen for her. The Courtneys were great. Lucius kicked ass like usual, and I got to record them from the best angle ever. I met a bunch of new people and came across some old friends and had a great time seeing everyone. And to top it off, I got there early enough to get one of the BEST CUPCAKES ON THE PLANET. Both nights.

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And so now, two days that I didn’t even realize I was looking forward to quite so much are over, and I’m almost disappointed to have a holiday weekend stretched out in front of me with nothing to do. Someone suggested trying to make it to some of the shows coming up in the next week, but that’s not even it. I feel like I felt when I was in elementary school and planning my birthday sleepover for months and now it’s over and everyone’s gone home and I don’t know what to do with myself and my house is quiet and empty and Tegan and Sara aren’t hanging out in my living room anymore. I’m sure I’ll be fine after I’ve caught up on some sleep here and start to look forward to the next shows I have coming up… but for now I’m going to hope that I was able to take some good videos for you guys so that you can see what I saw and feel what I felt. It was a really special week.

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So, several weeks ago, I stumbled across this website while trying to build a map for a project at work.  I had (way too much) fun making what I needed to make (which is here, if you’re interested… I’m actually quite proud of it!) and when I was done with it, my mind instantly went to what else I could make maps of!  I made a few of places I’ve lived, places I  liked in DC and Atlanta, and then I couldn’t avoid the thought:  one of all of the Tegan and Sara concerts I’ve been to.

My co-workers called me a total nerd for my complete enjoyment of making the maps, although I more attribute it to my obsessive love of detail (if only my life could be as organized as my YouTube channel…), my preference for having everything where I can see it all at once (hello law school finals flow charts…), my affinity for rainbow colors (my bedroom WAS done in rainbows when I was born), and about 30 free hours with nothing to do while my girlfriend was on a plane back to Australia via Korea.

So.  I’ve never summed up everything quite like this, and I wasn’t even entirely sure exactly how many shows I’d really been to.  Luckily my YouTube channel *IS* the most organized thing in my life (apart from my Flickr page), so that helped tremendously.  I also dug back into the Flickr pics for the first few shows I didn’t take video of, and, as for the very first show, where I don’t even have pictures, well, I had to dig into the online archives for that one.

And so here we have it.  I never meant to publicly admit to exactly how many shows I’ve been to, but after holding on to this for a few weeks I decided that I had too much fun making it not to share.  (Plus, everyone is forever asking me how many shows I have been to, so here, all of you, there you go!)

When you open the map it will at first show just tour routes and the markers for the first shows I went to in 2004.  If you click on the boxes next to the little colored markers on the top right hand side, you can add the markers for 2005, 2007 (nope, no 2006 shows, that would have been the “making of The Con” hibernation…), 2008, etc.  I already had the one show I was hoping to hit so far for 2011 up there, however, my cousin just put her wedding on that weekend, so we shall see.  I may soon be posting hoping someone needs an extra ticket to that one.  😦

Second, go to the “Tour Routes” tab on the bottom left, and you can click on the boxes next to them to make the lines on the map disappear… or you can check out the details of which shows I went to on that tour, the order of the tour, how far apart the shows were, all that good stuff.  🙂

Third, go back to the “Concert Locations” tab, and if you click on the name of each venue, it will bring up a bubble with the details of the venue, links to my YouTube videos and Flickr pictures from that show, and a picture from that show (would have added more pictures, but damn I could have gone on forever).  Also in that venue bubble, you can comment on that particular show (there’s an “Add Comment” link!) or you can comment on the map in general at the bottom of the map.  (I like comments.)

Finally, you can zoom way in on the map to see all of the different venues in each city (think I’ve been to six or seven different ones in NYC, for example).  FUN THING: bring up just the green 2009 markers, click on “Hollywood Bowl” on the left, zoom in until you’re like three bars from all the way in, and click on “Satellite” in the upper right hand corner.  Wicked.

AND, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, THE MAP: http://www.communitywalk.com/wojo4hitz_teganandsarashows
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PREVIEW:

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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!



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