Photos + Review + Setlist: Tegan and Sara and Holly Miranda Bowl Over a Packed Pageant, Friday, April 2
The only people having more fun than the Pageant's audience last night were Tegan and Sara Quin. The twin sisters blasted through a fantastic 25-song set which touched on their entire career, thrilling the packed venue.
Teenybopper-level screams erupted as the ladies and their backing band took the stage just after 9:30 p.m. and launched into a trio of songs from their latest, Sainthood: "The Ocean," "On Directing" and "The Cure." The triptych embodies Tegan and Sara's musical direction -- moody, new-wave influenced pop-rock - but its introspection felt buoyant instead of melancholy. That wasn't the case elsewhere: Dizzying, multi-colored lights flashed during "So Jealous," reinforcing the song's emotionally violent undertones - and creating a satisfying, ominous atmosphere. The newer "Night Watch," which found the sisters manning keyboards instead of guitars, felt like walking through a dark haunted house, lit only by flashlights.
Photo: Todd Owyoung Tegan and Sara last night at the Pageant. See full slideshow here.
These sonic (and emotional) dynamics kept the show interesting. They also demonstrated just how ferocious of a live act Tegan and Sara has become -- even in the two years since its last St. Louis appearance. A sped-up "Speak Slow" turned into a ripping punk tune, the So Jealous favorite "You Wouldn't Like Me" had backbone and bite, and set-closer "Hell" was even rawer and jagged than it is in the studio. Tegan and Sara don't receive much credit for their guitar skills, but their quicksilver strumming on these songs and elsewhere always kept things brisk and corrugated.
Its backing band, while mostly staying in the background, further helped flesh out and toughen up its tunes. Yet Tegan and Sara's less-complex earlier work blended seamlessly with newer tunes. They slowed down "Monday Monday Monday" with more keyboards and dramatic ambient space, and the Con hit "Back In Your Head" was stripped down to elementary-school percussion and acoustic guitar. "Divided" - introduced as "the first song from our first record" by Tegan - was a breathy, Beth Orton-like coffeehouse jam. The song's simplicity was charming, but when compared to the rest of the set it felt like an antique relic - a token of thanks for die-hards, not an attempt to encourage newer fans to check out their back catalog.
Photo: Todd Owyoung Tegan of Tegan and Sara last night at the Pageant. See full slideshow here.
Of course, Tegan and Sara's famous storytelling abilities were on display. Sara talked about going to the City Museum earlier in the day, and how afraid she was for the kids there - and how she felt like she was in Europe and not St. Louis, since there were "no rules" there. Tegan talked about being sore from bowling on their off night - in fact, bowling was a recurring meme throughout the night -- and later, told a long, involved story about recently being given some embarrassing childhood movies. (To paraphrase: She was always the loud one being obnoxious and Sara was in the background. Oh, and they also had the same haircuts then as they do now.)
Photo: Todd Owyoung Sara of Tegan and Sara last night at the Pageant. See full slideshow here.