Tegan and Sara: Bogarts, Cincinnati, OH 5/9/08

When I walked down Vine Street in Cincinnati, Ohio, there was a line around the block and it began at a small venue called Bogarts. I saw every walk of life standing around: gay, straight, white, black, young and old. The marquee read, “5/9 – Tegan and Sara SOLD OUT.”

Canadian born identical twin sisters, Tegan and Sara Quin have invaded America and gained a cult following without much help from MTV or radio. Now working to promote their latest, yet almost one year old album, The Con, these girls brought their brand of acoustic pop to Cincinnati for the first time in quite a few years. These young ladies brought together many different walks of life inside a venue that was far too small and put on a very respectable performance.

The opening act was the forgettable An Horse. No, that is not a typo. The band just doesn’t know the rules of grammar. This Australian duo, vocalist and guitarist Kate Cooper and drummer Damon Cox, were a blip above mediocre. When you have a two-member band, at least one of the members has to be amazing. For example, Jack White and the White Stripes or in the case of the Dresden Dolls, both members can be amazing. Either way, neither Cox nor Cooper was good enough to be remembered. Playing mostly songs from their debut EP Not Really Scared (available on iTunes), the two were hindered by a poor guitar tone and a bad vocal mix in the house. Though the crowd response was warm, I was relieved when these two Aussies left the stage.

Once the stage was reset, both of the Quin sisters quietly took the stage by themselves to a rousing reception from the audience. Without saying anything, the two women strapped on their guitars and begun an acoustic performance of the ominous “Dark Come Soon.” The sisters’ voices were already harmonizing perfectly and they easily breezed through the opening song before being joined by their amazing backing band and going into the title track of their latest album. The first part of the show went off well focusing mainly on songs from The Con. The women bounced back and forth between acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards, showing each is a Jill of all trades, if you will, when it comes to musicianship.

Playing ten of the fourteen tracks from The Con, Tegan and Sara sprinkled in older tracks like “So Jealous,” “Where Does the Good Go?” and even used some fan-made cue cards for the old single “I Know I Know I Know.” It was obvious these two sisters are immensely grateful for their fans, sometimes bringing the show to a screeching halt to talk to them and interact with them. The only problem was their famous between-song-banter was hit or miss. It began as annoying with a message from Tegan about spaying your pets, then it became endearing when they spoke about how much they love their family and about making mistakes in their personal life. However it quickly become annoying again when they spent minutes of valuable time trying to send a fan’s dad a text.

We fans appreciate appreciative artists but they need to pick a balance between music and talking. Maybe if they would have cut a little of the banter out, the fans would have been able to hear the amazing 1:25 track “Soil, Soil.” But that aside their actual musical performance was spectacular.

They played the undeniably hooky “Back In Your Head” before walking off stage to a huge ovation by the crowd. Of course, they came back out and played an encore of two older songs including the fan favorite “Living Room” before heading offstage for good. The crowd left the cramped venue with their heads still bobbing after Tegan and Sara put their music back in everyone’s head.

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