2/26 Tegan and Sara @ Bass Concert Hall

We here at Austin Town Hall were fortunate enough to get our hands on some tickets for the much anticipated Tegan and Sara at Bass Concert Hall on Friday night.  Touring in support of their latest release, Sainthood, the girls were accompanied by the beautiful Holly Miranda and Steel Train.  A sold out crowd filled the hall, and you could hear the buzz as all the fans anxiously awaited the beginning of the night. Follow the jump for the full show review and pics.

Unfortunately, long beer lines and a decent walk to the venue, forced us into missing the majority of the set by Steel Train.  We walked into watch the boys circling their drums in some sort of tribal percussive moment.  It was an interesting moment to walk into, as the crowd cheered the group on for their furious ensemble closing number.  Sadly, I heard we missed an interesting a capella moment earlier in the set.   Next up for us, the stunning Holly Miranda.

Holly Miranda has been building quite a name for herself lately, and the 27 year old wouldn’t disappoint. She began the night clutching her guitar, backed by her three bandmates. Her voice rang out beautifully in the hall, and you couldn’t help but to ignore the rest of the band (no offense fellas).  Captivating her audience as she bent strings on her guitar and let her chords ring out, Holly had the crowd eating out of her hands (not to mention breaking hearts while she was at it).  If there was a bump in the road for her very short performance, then it would have to be the moment she went to the piano.  Standing there, playing the ivories, she appeared somewhat hidden, and a yet a little bit exposed.  Sure, it’s a contradiction, but with guitar in hand, she had the control.  Her set ended with a wall of feedback in noise, just after she had Steel Train join her for “Broken Rapids.” As she walked off the stage, I couldn’t help but think she sounded uniquely like a more awesome Mazzy Star (I know, weak analogy, but it’s in my notes).

The moment the throngs had waited for finally was upon us. Screams echoed in the hall, the fans of Tegan and Sara salivating.  For their first six songs they trucked right on through with six straight songs off of their newest album, Sainthood.  It seemed an odd opening to a sold out show, but one can always wonder if they did so to get to the core of their set.  This seems a bit likely, as the twins did seem a bit disinterested and casual to begin the night.  By no means did their musical chops accompany this attitude, as the hall did every tune they played perfect justice. It wasn’t until “Hell” that the girls finally took ownership of their music; the vocal delivery was the most powerful moment of the night, up to this point.

One thing that always seems to allude Tegan and Sara is their vocal talents, but in the middle of the set, “Speak Slow” brought it all to light.  You know the girls cleverly trade vocal duties throughout their albums, but here, you could finally see why their precision in performance and delivery makes them absolutely intoxicating.  During “Dark Comes Soon,” Tegan took control of the evening.  Armed with her acoustic guitar, she easily stole the spotlight from her sister, making it one of the more captivating numbers in the night’s set.

For the most part, the band sound extremely polished, which isn’t an entirely bad thing.  They entertained us all with stories, that sometimes went on a bit too long, but as the night carried along, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, just based on the volumes of screaming fans everywhere (flashback to an old Dashboard Confessional show for me).  You have to give it to the ladies, as they were even clever enough to place “Nineteen” as the nineteenth song of the set.  Eventually, they graciously left the stage, fans satisfied. But, they returned!

I’m all for an encore, but they ladies might have pushed it on too far.  Their closing moments included five more songs, which appeased everyone, and closed with “Call It Off” from The Con.  Honestly, the performance was spectacular for the final song, and quite an intimate atmosphere as the encore featured the Quin sisters sans band. But, it would have been nice to see some of these special moments mixed into the main part of the set (probably just me).  Once again, Tegan and Sara left us for good, ending our night of wonderful pop melodies that rang out in the cold night of February 26th.

Here’s the set list as I have it:

1) The Ocean 2) On Directing 3) The Cure 4) Hell 5) Sentimental Tune 6) Alligator 7) Where Does the Good Go? 8) Speak Slow 9) Walking With a Ghost 10) So Jealous 11) Soil, Soil 12) Monday Monday Monday 13) Dark Comes Soon 14) Red Belt 15) Arrow 16) Nightwatch 17) Take Me Anywhere 18) The Con 19) Nineteen 20) You Wouldnt Like Me

ENCORE 21) Back in Your Head 22) Feel It in My Bones 23) ? 24) Call it Off

Photos provided courtesy of the lovely Jonathon Edwards.

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