.

Tegan and Sara Explore New Territory in L.A. Show

Calgary twins give 'Heartthrob' its live U.S. debut at the Nokia Club

February 2, 2013 2:20 PM ET
Tegan and Sara, guitar, new song, heartthrob, february, la
Tegan and Sara perform at Club Nokia on February 1st, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Jonathan Weiner

Tegan and Sara had some changes to share in front of a full house of true believers last night at Club Nokia in Los Angeles as they delivered a new sound of searing, danceable electro-pop from Heartthrob, the duo’s 7th studio album. "This is only the second time we’ve played these new songs live," Tegan Quin said from the stage, "and I’m very nervous."

The new album was made with L.A.-based pop producer Greg Kurstin (also a member of the dreamy indie-pop duo the Bird and the Bee), but the sisters are making a shift in sound, not content. Bright, emotional hooks have always been there, fueling songs of hope and heartbreak. Last night, the twins just bounced a little higher with some romantic Eighties pop excitement.

Q&A: Tegan and Sara on Sibling Rivalry, Leaving the Indie World Behind

They were originally set to debut their new songs for U.S. fans at the Beacon Theatre in New York days earlier, but the flu had robbed Sara of her voice, making the L.A. show the first chance fans have had to hear the material live, following a short set on Kimmel the night before. (The Beacon shows are now rescheduled for February 19th and 20th.)

For nearly two hours, the Calgary twins mixed dancefloor textures with their traditional singer-songwriter repertoire. The night began with the forceful hooks of "Back in Your Head," both sisters slashing at acoustic guitars, mingling pure pop with alt-folk bite. There was hurt and euphoria in the new "Goodbye, Goodbye," a potent echo of synth pop. Also from Heartthrob was the stormy "Shock to Your System," set to a heavy tribal beat from drummer Adam Christgau and sung by Sara. She followed that up with an aching "How Come You Don’t Want Me," clutching the microphone and bouncing restlessly on her heels.

The sisters reached back into the duo’s 14-year musical history, picking up electric guitars and barking melodically for an intentionally raw "Arrow." Sara sang the bristling fan-fave "Walking With a Ghost," strumming an anxious riff. Their "Not Tonight" was all about romantic dissatisfaction, morphing into a verse of Bruce Springsteen’s torrid "I’m On Fire."

Tegan and Sara, guitar, new song, heartthrob, february, LA
Tegan and Sara perform at Club Nokia on February 1st, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Jonathan Weiner

Among the older songs, "The Con" has perhaps had the most lasting impact on longtime fans, and was delivered last night with melodic force, flashing lights and genuine longing. Strumming their guitars, Tegan and Sara sang of raw, emotional uncertainty, wailing in tandem: "Nobody likes to, but I really like to cry / Nobody likes me, maybe if I cry."

They were supported most of the night by a tight four-man band behind the synths, bass, drums and guitars, but occasionally the two stood alone onstage, their overlapping vocals in imperfect harmony, never surrendering emotion to polish. There was no doubt in their excitement and commitment to the new beats and textures of Heartthrob. The animated "Closer," which opens the new album, made a clear statement on the new pop horizons and old obsessions: "Let's make things physical . . . I want you."

"You can’t just sing the words. You’ve got to think about something traumatizing," said Tegan from the stage, leading a fan sing-along. "I want you to blow my hair back with your passion."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com