Just before 8:00, the house lights flickered and dimmed. As light spilled onto the stage, the sold-out Paramount crowd let out a collective cheer welcoming Tegan and Sara Quin to the first of two nights in Austin. Taking their place on a raised center stage platform, the sisters were flanked on each side by a musician that echoed their own instrument – Tim Mislock on guitar beside Tegan and Gabrial McNair on keyboards to Sara’s left. There would be no drummer tonight. They immediately launched into the first two songs of the evening ‘I Was Married” and “Relief Next to Me.”
This was not a typical Tegan and Sara concert. Past Austin shows had the sisters playing with a full rhythm section at Stubb’s across town to a standing party crowd. Here, at the beautiful and serene surroundings of the Paramount theater, the audience was treated to a more intimate and stripped-down set.
Tegan addressed the subject head-on during the first of many “talking breaks” the sisters provided throughout the show. “We’ve been warning people at the beginning of the show … it seems silly to most of the people, but its become obvious that its necessary but this is an acoustic show .. uh . . ” she said to laughter from the crowd. There’s no point where it gets super loud and techno starts playing and a drummer gets rolled out onto the stage – its just two hours of us talking and playing songs, pretty much like what you just saw.” The audience roared back in approval. She went on to state that early in the tour this was a bit of a problem “Two different people yelled out ‘When do we get to dance?’ and I was like “Holy shit!”
Austin marks the end of this tour that is celebrating the 10th anniversary of their seminal album “The Con” and all 14 tracks from the release were played in sequence. Many of the songs were performed this night with fresh new arrangements that, while altering the mood of the recording, took nothing away from the original composition.
“The Con” is an album written during a period of intense emotional turmoil for both Tegan and Sara. It was also a turning point in their career, exhibiting a depth and melancholy in their songwriting that was previously unheard.
Before launching into the title song from the album, Sara talked about their first time in Austin – “Our first SXSW … we were just barely out of high school and it was our first time playing in the United States. We spent a great deal of the trip, actually, in our hotel room crying. like physically, actually laying on the bed crying tears! We were extremely uncomfortable and anxious and it was a jump into the deep end of the music industry.” She continued, “I tell you that story because its actually a nice parallel with this album because while it is one of your favorite albums of ours, ‘The Con” is really just two years of sadness for me, so it is nice to be reapproaching the music and coming back out and playing these songs 10 years later and we feel extremely honored that you are here tonight to celebrate with us.”
And so went the rest of the evening. Heartfelt and emotional songs interspersed with self-deprecating stage banter and revealing stories. It was an amazing glimpse into the personalities of these two musicians and their work.
After finishing the songs from the album, the sisters came back onstage to play another mini-set spanning the remainder of their ten-year career, finishing with their crowd-pleasing hit “Closer.” It was a beautiful ending to a truly wonderful evening as the audience swayed and celebrated a night of intimacy and catharsis with two artists long overdue for greater stardom.
TEGAN AND SARA PHOTO GALLERY
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A portion of tour proceeds benefitted the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for economic justice, health and representation of LGBTQ girls and women.
About the Tegan and Sara Foundation
The Tegan and Sara Foundation fights for health, economic justice and representation for LGBTQ girls and women. This mission is founded on a commitment to feminism and racial, social and gender justice. In partnership and solidarity with other organizations fighting for LGBTQ and women’s rights, the Foundation raises awareness and funds to address the inequalities currently preventing LGBTQ girls and women from reaching their full potential. This work is critically important because…
LGBTQ women have higher rates of gynecological cancer, depression, obesity, suicide and tobacco/alcohol abuse. Discriminatory laws, provider bias, insurance exclusions and inadequate reproductive health coverage leave 29% of LGBTQ women struggling to pay for health insurance.
A quarter of lesbian women live in poverty. LGB women of color are three times more likely to live in poverty than their white peers. Transgender women are four times more likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed. One in five transgender women has reported being homeless at some point.
Less than 1% of TV characters are lesbians. In 2016, 25 queer female characters were killed on-screen – continuing a decades-long trend.