Tegan and Sara took the stage at the Bowery Ballroom Monday night to a sold-out crowd anxious to see the duo perform their first U.S. show in support of forthcoming release, Heartthrob. Though clearly fatigued from three weeks of support shows in arenas abroad, the band was visibly elated to be back in the company of an intimate, inviting, and most of all adoring audience. Tegan and Sara gave fans a spirited performance that served not only as a special homecoming concert testament to the duo’s love for their fans, but also as a sneak peek at the songs on Heartthrob and their freshly revamped sound.
Entering to uproarious applause and the relentless flicker of flashing cameras, Tegan and Sara almost immediately launched into new track, “I’m Not Your Hero.” With a danceable backtrack that expands upon the duo’s exploration of the electronic/dance genre, “I’m Not Your Hero” features lyrics recalling personal hardship while celebrating self-perseverance and strength. The song’s catchy vocal melody and expressive lyrics were a perfect re-introduction to Tegan and Sara’s ever-evolving musical aesthetic (as if any of us could forget it), but featured the same depth that fans of the band have come to know and love. Coming off a freshly completed U.K.-tour, the song felt like a message emphatically stating, “We did it, and so can you!” to the New York City audience.
Though the band designed the concert to support Tegan and Sara’s new album Heartthrob, it was undoubtedly a night devoted to the fans. The duo played a polished and incredibly interactive set that, while expertly divided to showcase the new songs, simultaneously featured countless fan favorites. The audience clung to every moment, bouncing along to energetic singles like “Back In Your Head,” “The Con,” and “Hell,” and collectively sobbing through heavy, emotional tracks like, “Nineteen” and “Call it Off.” In spite of having just arrived home the evening before, Tegan and Sara were their usual talkative selves, telling stories from all walks of their lives and bantering with the audience about anything and everything between songs. The audience audibly sang along for most of the show, and at one point Tegan even brought everyone together for one verse of “Where Does the Good Go,” encouraging the crowd to get emotional and, “pretend like (they) are auditioning for American Idol or something.”
Perhaps the most moving part of the evening came during Tegan and Sara’s performance of two new songs titled “I Was A Fool” and “Messed Up.” Performed back-to-back in the middle of the set, both are quieter, more telling songs that evoke the raw emotion and heartbreak characteristic of Tegan and Sara’s music. Decidedly slower than most of the duo’s more recent material (see: “Closer” and “Feel It In My Bones”), both songs held their own in a live setting and demonstrated clear potential to be two of Heartthrob’s strongest tracks. While the girls were clearly nervous prior to playing the songs (Tegan said so herself), the two were rewarded with an extended ovation that lasted nearly a minute. After a series of songs from each of their last four albums, Tegan and Sara closed the main set with Heartthrob’s first single, the upbeat “Closer.” Fans sang along wherever possible, cheered suggestively during lines like, “All I’m dreaming lately is how to get you underneath me,” and jumped around as though it were the last Tegan and Sara show ever. In all, it was an unfettered display of the mutual adoration between the band and their followers, and a telling sign that Heartthrob is sure to receive a positive reception from listeners.
While the sound of Tegan and Sara’s music has undergone a metamorphosis over the years, in a live setting the duo easily dissects the boundaries of genre with a repertoire as colorful as their audience. Most importantly, Tegan and Sara know their audience, and how to grow while expressing themselves in a way that doesn’t alienate their fans along the way. Monday night’s show at the Bowery Ballroom reinforced that while Tegan and Sara are dabbling in the genre of electronic/dance, they will never forget where they come from, and will continue writing inspired music accessible to all of their devoted fans. It’s an ongoing love affair, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
I’m Not Your Hero
Back In Your Head
Walking with a Ghost
Where Does the Good Go
I Was a Fool
Call it Off
Dark Come Soon
Not Tonight (Bruce Springsteen’s "I’m On Fire" interlude)
Feel It In My bones