Tegan & Sara returned to New York City after a triumphant start to their Sainthood tour last October with 2 sold out Town Hall shows. This time was very different. They’ve embarked on the North American leg of the tour and did not include a New York date. Instead on January 27th the following appeared on their website:
we’ve decided, quite spontaneously, to offer an opportunity for some of you to spend an intimate night with us at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. perhaps it’s worth noting that my use of the word intimate only applies to the small-ish size of the venue and the stripped down nature of the material we will be performing. i wouldn’t call it an acoustic performance so much as a night of reinterpretations of the well worn and well loved album versions you’ve come to love.
With that small bit of info and the onsale date a couple of days later and the fact that the show would be February 15th we were left to fend for ourselves. It wasn’t until the tickets went onsale that we learned they’d be $75. That is a lot more than Tegan & Sara shows usually cost, and a lot more than Music Hall of Williamsburg shows usually cost. In fact I know quite a few people who didn’t buy tickets because of this price.
For those of you non-New Yorkers reading this, The Music Hall of Williamsburg is a very popular venue located in Brooklyn. It is also very small. It’s capacity is about 550, and was formerly a great venue called Northsix (it’s on North 6th Street). So shows there tend to be small and sell out very fast.
Anyway obviously I bought a ticket and let me now guide you through my evening with my favorite two Canadian twins.
I arrived at the MHOW a little before 5:30. The ground is still covered with snow and ice from the snowstorm a few days ago and it was actually not bad out. The ticket said that there was a happy hour at 7 so I assumed the wait wouldn’t be that long out in the cold anyway. There was a pretty good line at that point but I was still towards the front. Unfortunately the happy hour was a lie. And the temperature dropped. So I stood freezing outside till 8 when they let us in. Cruelly a little after 7 a worker walked down the line and shouted for everyone to take out their tickets and ID but then followed it with “the doors will be opening at 8″. I do not know anyone who takes an hour to get something from their pocket. Also around 7:30 it started snowing again, getting harder till we finally were let in.
And when we were let in we discovered a wonderful surprise. Rows of seats. This was to be a completely seated show. This is pretty unheard of at MHOW. When everyone had filed in and taken seats it became very clear why the tickets had cost so much. Not only was this a super special one off show, but it was way less than what their usual capacity is. They must have sold less than half what they usually do, thus having to up the price to make any money off the show. There was probably a crowd of 250 for a band who just played to over 3000 in Canada.
At 9 the band took the stage and started the set. First they had a little fun. Obviously they knew they asked a lot for the tickets. So they said they were going to play 5 or 6 songs then leave. After the reaction they asked if we’d riot to which the answer was a resounding “yes”. Then they started in on some old songs.
A terrific start with Divided, Not Tonight, and This Is Everything, with tons of banter. Those 3 songs alone took up almost 20 minutes. Then they headed into one of my personal favorites Living Room but Tegan stopped because apparently she forgot the lyrics. She did an extended bit about how she forgets the lyrics to one song every tour and right now that’s the one. So the audience helped out.
They then continued the set with some new stripped down versions of Sainthood material. They said they were excited about this and it was the first time they were really doing this. It’s at this point that I will tell you that this entire night was the Tegan & Sara show. The rest of the band was there and joined them on various songs but for the most part this was totally stripped down and just focusing solely on the girls. There weren’t drums even on stage and although they had 2 keyboards they were used sparingly.
On Directing was interesting as Sara’s finger slipped and she stopped with an abrupt “shit”. Tegan said she scared her and thought she had been shot or something. But then they finished the song.
I really thought when I saw there were no drum that I would miss them but oddly enough even on songs with awesome drum parts like Hell I really enjoyed these more quiet acoustic-ish versions. Although they can never really replace the full band, they are certainly a welcome treat.
After some Sainthood they veered into some more back catalog with hits like Walking With A Ghost and Monday Monday Monday. All throughout this there was just tons of banter. Tegan & Sara are kind of like peanut butter and chocolate. They take two awesome things, comedy and music, and bring them together in a way that enhances the all around experience.
One of the more interesting segments of banter was Tegan telling the tale of a manicure she had gone for the day before. I’ll let you hear for yourself.
By the way sorry the pictures suck. I have no idea why but my camera just refused to focus properly. There is however a large gallery at the bottom of the post nonetheless.
There was a request section too. They took crowd requests and then voted on what they thought they could do. When I Get Up won. Sara also attempted Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark. They had some trouble with these mainly because they haven’t played them in a while. When I Get Up is one of my all time favorite songs so I was very happy.
Sara also spontaneously asked if we’d like to hear Light Up. Then a few songs later she did it. Also Tegan took up the xylophone for Back In Your Head. Another highlight for me was when they did the song they co-wrote with DJ Tiesto Feel It In My Bones. I don’t like the DJ version, it’s too techno-y for me, but this acoustic version was just beautiful.
All in all it was an incredible show that was worth every penny. They did 24 songs and the set wound up close to 2 1/2 hours. Setlist is below. Oh and want more? More banter? More songs? Follow Media Decay on Twitter and we’ll post a very special link there sometime today.
- Not Tonight
- This Is Everything
- Living Room
- The Ocean
- On Directing
- Alligator Tears
- Night Watch
- Walking With A Ghost
- Monday Monday Monday
- Where Does The Good Go?
- Soil, Soil
- Red Belt
- The Con
- You Wouldn’t Like Me
- When I Get Up
- Dancing In The Dark
- Back In Your Head
- Light Up
- Feel It In My Bones
- My Number
- Call It Off
Tegan & Sara are currently on their North American tour in support of Sainthood. You can buy tickets conveniently from Ticketmaster through this little widget: