Concert Heartstrings Review

Freegan and Sara! Canadian Duo Plays LI

Photo by Lindsey Byrnes (www.teganandsara.com)

By: Samantha Holle

On a comfortable Saturday night at the end of July, Fresh 102.7 hosted a concert at Harry Chapin Lakeside Theater in East Meadow’s Eisenhower Park. The concert was free, but that was hardly the best part: Tegan and Sara, Canada’s indie twin darlings, were the headlining act. Tegan and Sara had been a favorite listening choice for this writer as a college student; I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday night.

Amidst the sea of lawn chairs and blankets, tween girls screamed in ecstasy as the opening act, Christina Perri, sang a series of short, poppy songs, seemingly tailor-made for rom-com soundtracks. When it came time for Tegan and Sara to play at 9:15, the crowd had dramatically changed.  The tween Perri fans had dissipated, and what remained was a crowd of twenty- to thirty-somethings, mostly women.

The duo and their band jumped right into a peppy, upbeat number to start off.  “Goodbye, Goodbye” was exciting and had the crowd up dancing.  However, the sound wasn’t very well balanced, causing Tegan and Sara’s vocals to be heard best only when they sang in higher registers.  I hoped to myself that this would be something that would be fixed as the concert progressed.

As they continued along, they played a few older songs reminiscent of my college days, including “Back in Your Head” and “Living Room.”  The twins’ vocals have matured over the last five to ten years–they are tighter, making the melodies more in tune with one another and, on occasion, more haunting. The two harmonize beautifully and play off of one another effortlessly.

One thing that has dramatically changed over the years is the amount of effect put into their music.  Where there was once acoustic strumming, there is now heavy reliance on keyboard effects that linger throughout a whole song instead of used sparingly.  An echo effect during one song left me wondering if it was being done on purpose or if it was an architectural flaw impeding on the music (it was done on purpose). A keyboard part in another song added a fantastical element that was both charming and poppy.

Banter with the crowd was funny and conversational, almost as if you are alone in a room with the two of them.  Before diving into “Alligator,” Tegan told us this was a dance song and she wanted everyone to dance, but if you didn’t want to dance you can bop in your seat instead.  The request to remain comfortable was a reference to something Tegan had experienced recently–she had told the audience at a concert earlier this week to dance, and someone tweeted that they felt that Tegan was “peer pressuring” people to dance when they didn’t want to.

Later in the show, Tegan lamented about flying into Long Island for this concert because she didn’t enjoy being in close quarters with strangers.  The man next to her came on the plane wearing flip flops, something Tegan says is a horrible thing to do to your neighbors on an airplane.  “I wonder what that guy’s wife thinks of him, like if she thinks he’s gross or anything,” the twins wondered in unison, then immediately apologized for generalizing about this stranger.  They began the next song–”Call It Off”–which opens with the line “I won’t regret saying this.” The girls stopped playing and began laughing because they were unable to sing the line without thinking of the flip-flopped man’s gauche behavior. They were off for a little, trying to get through the song without giggling, but the audience helped them get back on track.

The songs continued to seem like radio-friendly dance hits, the last two of the set especially sounding more like dance songs than “Alligator.”  I left the concert satisfied, but also a little wistful for the Tegan and Sara of my college years.  Long gone were the brooding vocals and simple acoustics that shaped many a college Greyhound bus trips for me; they’ve been replaced with synchronized harmonies, keyboard effects, and a strong dance feeling. Tegan and Sara have changed, but not in a bad way at all.

Here’s a little of the old, as well as the new:

 

 

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