Review: Tegan and Sara at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, WI. February 24, 2013

“You’re knocking at my windows, You’re slow to letting me go”, from ‘Feel it in My Bones‘ during the final encore song by Tegan and Sara at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, WI. February 24, 2013

Published by Jeff Becker on February 26, 2013

Tegan and Sara

  • The Orpheum Theater, Madison, WI.
  • February 24, 2013

Setlist (see photo below for actual setlist) and review:

If there was a color-by-numbers guide to the top of the indie pop mountain, Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin own almost every crayon in the box.   Almost.

They’ve got bubbly personalities and the perfect generation-Y liberated lifestyles to appeal to nearly every sect capable of owning an mp3 player.  They’re humorous, enthusiastic in addition to conveniently being attractive and still in their early 30’s.   Seven albums deep and with a fan following that rivals few in the indie world at this time, Tegan & Sara, with nearly unsettling ease, pumped out 23 songs in a mere 100 minutes to a spacious, two-thirds full downtown Madison theater on Sunday night.    Onstage, they say the right things, play the perfect chords, and have the right look.  Their new album is their most polished, commercial album to date – and that’s what’s almost unnerving.   The only thing missing from their catalog is that series of breakthrough songs, or that one album that sets them apart with a true identity of sound.   As noted in our review of their new album Hearththrob they’re bumping up against female-led groups such as Best Coast and the Dum Dum Girls.  Those young bands have dominated the hearts of new indie fans with their hard-edged, grinding, lo-fi sound and songmaking.   Tegan & Sara have in retrospect – by polishing things up – devised a sound that crunches them up against the likes of bands such as Metric, and that’s just not a fight they can win.   A show that is filled with shining moments all night long still left the crowd slightly unfulfilled.  The crowd was mostly flat-footed during the night, doing more absorbing than they were becoming part of the show.   Spectators more so than participators.

Their performance is excellent, but also by the numbers.  Filled with charisma, but yet still without the charm you’d hope for.   They’re bubbly, but not quite vibrant.   Talented, but not quite breathtaking.   While they’ve admittedly taken a step away in the studio from the early guitar driven work of their prior albums, their wonderful finale of the night was a pop masterpiece.  Showing their Beatles-esque side with a full glory, blissful, acoustic rendition of ‘Feel it in My Bones’, the sisters shined as bright as they had all night with dueling acoustic guitars in their hands.   For that moment, and for a few others during the night Tegan and Sara shined their brightest, reaching well beyond the pop compromises found on their new record.


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