Tegan And Sara at Riverside Theater
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When the lights dimmed and Leslie Gore’s “Sunshine, Lollipops, And Rainbows” started blasting over the house speakers Thursday at the Riverside Theater, it was apparent that Tegan And Sara don’t take issue with being, well, precious. Of course, this isn’t to downplay the twins’ iconic impact on the gay community, or their ability to write immaculately sincere pop tunes. But it’s hard to deny the almost-nauseating cuteness of hearing Tegan talk to the crowd about the benefits of receiving fluff and fold laundry service on the road.
The duo hit the stage to the deafening roar of teenage girls with charmingly asymmetrical haircuts and kicked off its set with the Tegan-lead “The Ocean,” an infectious track from 2009’s Sainthood that probably wouldn’t sound out of place on the Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack.
“So, we have a new record out called Sainthood,” announced Tegan. “Some of you probably downloaded it and that’s fine. The other day my mother told me that she downloaded an album and stole it. What’s this world coming to when my fucking mom is illegally downloading music?” The tunes from Sainthood actually punched harder than on record, thanks in large part to the meticulously tasteful hammering of drummer Johnny Andrews, who added an extra wallop to songs like “Hell,” “On Directing,” and “Northshore.” However, it was the handful of songs that the pair pulled from 2004’s So Jealous and 2007’s The Con that evoked the loudest sing-alongs and screams of approval. Surprisingly, the show wasn’t even close to sold out, but that didn’t make the raucously shrill howling of fans any less disorienting.
Another adorable moment occurred when Tegan touched on being afraid to walk into the notoriously creepy basement of The Rave to do her laundry the last time she was in Milwaukee. “Then again, this is coming from a person who had her girlfriend of five years walk her to the bathroom every night,” she added. Throughout the set, both Tegan and Sara would constantly flip back and forth between synth and guitar, sure to put the guy who operated the little spotlights that followed the sisters around to work. However, the bassist, drummer, and guitarist mostly seemed to lurk in the shadows, behind the bright, fancy-pants lighting system that was sporadically blinding when it hit you in the face.
After hammering out the tight harmonies of proper set-closer “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” Tegan And Sara reemerged without the backing band and played acoustic renditions of “Back In Your Head” and “Feel It In My Bones,” their collaboration with Tiesto. Eventually the backing band rejoined the two sisters for a stunning rendition of “Living Room,” before Tegan And Sara took their bows and waved goodbye.