Sound Advice: Tegan and Sara with Japanese Breakfast (Aug. 2)

Star Pop duo Tegan and Sara comes to Covington's Madison Theater.

Jul 27, 2017 at 1:41 pm

click to enlarge Tegan and Sara - Photo: Pamela Littky
Photo: Pamela Littky
Tegan and Sara

It hardly seems possible that we're just two years away from the 20th anniversary of Tegan and Sara's debut album, 1999's Under Feet Like Ours, but it's likely no surprise to them. The Canadian Quin sisters clearly had the long game in mind from their late ’90s start in Calgary, tooling their act to accommodate opening slots as an acoustic duo, as well as a full electric band presentation. This relatively simple performance adjustment allowed Tegan and Sara to play in front of a broad and diverse demographic and build an exponentially expanding fan base in a comparatively brief amount of time.

That strategy would seem to be the work of supremely confident artists who are taking a methodical approach to industry domination, but the fact is that Tegan and Sara actually suffered from a crippling lack of self-assuredness in their musical abilities despite evidence to the contrary. In 1998, the identical twins won Calgary's Garage Warz competition and the accompanying studio-time prize. The following year, their debut album attracted the attention of Neil Young's Vapor label, which signed the duo and released 2000's This Business of Art. It wasn't until 2004's So Jealous that they began to feel as if they were as musically competent as their peers, which may have been exemplified when The White Stripes covered that album's "Walking with a Ghost."

The twosome's pivotal album came with The Con, which has been garnering widespread praise for its vast influence this year as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. On the album, Tegan and Sara explored a darker, more mature Indie Pop direction, fueled by relationship struggles and the death of their grandmother, and also found them incorporating more electronic elements to their sound. Those elements came to even greater prominence on 2009's Sainthood and flowered into full bloom within the contemporary Pop expanse of 2013's Heartthrob (a move they credited to Taylor Swift's influence) and continued with last year's Love You to Death. In between those albums, Tegan and Sara threw in with The Lonely Island to perform the infectious "Everything is Awesome!!!" for The Lego Movie, which earned an Oscar nomination and performance featuring the two groups and co-producer Mark Mothersbaugh.

Just as importantly, Tegan and Sara have remained outspokenly politically active over the years. The openly gay twins have staunchly advocated for LGBTQ equality, earning them the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist in 2013. Last year, Tegan and Sara ignored the North Carolina boycott over House Bill 2 and played a show in Asheville, donating the proceeds to the advocacy group Equality North Carolina. Last December, the pair formed the Tegan and Sara Foundation to gain equal representation and benefits for the LGBTQ community. A recreation of The Con is set for release in October, featuring 14 artists covering the LP in full, with all proceeds benefiting the Foundation.

Great musical voices and a strong social voice — Tegan and Sara are the right artists at the right time.

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