Tegan & Sara: Live in Cleveland

After the mildly disappointing BGSU Libraries Record Sale on Saturday, Mark came over to our house and we headed out to Cleveland to see Tegan and Sara live at the The Grog Shop.

I had told Holly at work where we were going this weekend—The Grog Shop—and she’d said, “Is that on Coventry? I *love* Coventry! There’s a toy store and Coventry Cats that sells all cats and there’s a Mexican Subway kind of place that’s awesome and there’s a Mongolian Barbecue but there’s always a two-hour wait and there’s a bunch of book stores and it’s really neat are you going early to check out the shops?”

So, with Holly’s admonition in mind, we left early enough to arrive in Cleveland Heights well before doors, so we could get a bite to eat and maybe hit a shop or two. Actually, we’d planned to leave around 5pm, but ended up really leaving around 5:30. Our tickets said doors were at 8pm. We made really good time, though, and arrived in the Cleveland Heights Coventry area around a quarter after seven.

Then we parked.

Parking, as Holly had promised, was interesting. We’d figured that we’d manage to find a spot on the street like we did when we saw the Pietasters last year. Not so. After going up and down the block by the Grog Shop, we finally parked in a metered parking lot a couple blocks from the venue. The max was six hours, so we ended up feeding said meter enough change for five hours, just in case.

Right next to the parking lot where we’d ended up parking was an entire parking structure full of meters. I’d never seen anything like that, although I must say it’s not a horrible idea.

Next order of business: food.

We wandered down Coventry Boulevard, taking closer looks at the shops and stores and restaurants we’d driven past on our way in. There was Big Fun, a toy store that Holly had spoken highly of; there was a record store and a couple bookstores; and there was Que Tal?, the “Mexican Subway” Holly had told me about. For dinner, it was there or the Hunan Coventry across the street that looked expensive and fancy and not on our timetable, so we tried out Que Tal?.

Basically, Que Tal? starts with a tortilla the size of a medium pizza, then fills it up in front of you with the ingredients of your choice. Aaron and I both had variants on the Gringo Burrito, large. My huge-ass burrito contained steak, beans, rice, lettuce, grilled onions, guacamole, and sour cream. I’m still not precisely sure how the nice homegirl managed to roll that sucker up. It was a feat of masterwork. It was a shitload of food. It really fixed Aaron’s and my jonesing for Mexican.

Five till eight. Time to head for the Grog Shop. No time to check out the shops. We were all disappointed by this, and vowed to show up a good two hours early for the next Grog Show show.

It was a good thing we didn’t decide to duck into a store or two, because the opener, Rachael Cantu, was already playing when we arrived.

Rachael reminded me a little of what Alanis Morrissette might sound like alone with an acoustic, with some Ani DiFranco thrown in for good measure. Kind of emo, kind of folksy, and kind of her own animal. I enjoyed her songs well enough, although she seemed a little insecure onstage, and I think the crowd sensed that. For her last song, she brought Tegan onstage for a relatively spontaneous (read: little-rehearsed) number, during which I could really tell that both Rachael and Tegan were having a good time. Overall, Rachael wasn’t one of the worst openers I’ve seen by far: she didn’t pretend to be someone she wasn’t, and her stripped-down guitar-and-vocals style worked well for me. I don’t think I’ll go buy her album, but I did download the two mp3s she offers on her website.

I don’t recall at what point we noted the demographic that had joined us at the concert. It finally dawned on us, though: 1.) About 90% of the concertgoers in front of us were college-age women, and 2.) Among those women, there were at least three couples.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt stranger about my heterosexuality.

It wasn’t long before Tegan and Sara and their band came onstage. For the uninitiated, Tegan and Sara are 24-year-old twins from Canada; and, although we didn’t know this until after the concert, they’re both openly gay. Which would help to explain the demographic of the crowd. That’s cool, though: I could at least pretend that some of the chicks around me were checking me out. 😉

We didn’t bring earplugs, because we didn’t know what to expect—luckily, the band wasn’t obnoxiously loud like a lot of the shows we attend. A lot of Tegan and Sara’s songs are mainly mellow, with a chorus or two of heavy drumming and some general rocking-out. The vocals at the beginning of the show were a little under the mix, so if we would have been sporting plugs, we might not have heard Tegan at all.

The banter between the girls and the crowd was highly amusing. Sara was “chatty,” as Tegan put it, and kept talking about parties she’d attended during the time she’d hung out at University with some friends, and how her black hoodie never came off once, especially when she saw a hot-tub party she could have joined. It was fun watching Tegan and Sara interact with one another as sisters do: “She’s my sister, and I’m allowed to make fun of her. She makes fun of me all the time, so this is my one release.”

Unfortunately, though, the grrlz standing next to me were insistent on shouting weird things and doing weird things… like flashing Sara. At one point, Sara pointed out these two girls that were standing in close proximity to me and said something like, “I hate to single you two out for my banter with the audience, but—you do know it’s not ladies’ night at the strip club, right? Because I saw live boobies down there.” After which Sara admonished the girls that they should wait and bare their boobies in the privacy of their own rooms, or together, or whatever they prefer—not that she’s a prude or anything, mind you, just that it’s the sort of thing one shouldn’t show in public. I tended to agree.

As far as the actual show itself went, it was impressive. Tegan and Sara sound very much alike when they’re singing, and they both have impressive vocal ranges. I always assumed that one of them sang the lower parts on the records, and the other sang the higher parts. Truth is, they switch off, and both can sing equally high and low, from what I can tell.

They also play identical Les Paul Epiphones and Yamaha acoustics, which they switch off every song. Four guitars between the two of them, matching pairs, which Aaron found particularly amusing.

After the show, Mark went over to the merch booth to meet Tegan and Sara. He’d managed to snag a flyer off of the wall, and had them both sign it. While he was over there, he mentioned to them that if he’d shouted half the things those girls were shouting, as a guy, he would have been either beaten or ejected from the venue. They agreed.

Oh, and let me not forget another neat feature of Coventry Blvd: there’s a button pedestrians can push to make the crosswalk light up with blinky amber lights, giving them the right-of-way. How cool is that? I told Mark as we were walking back to the car that, even though I was out of film and couldn’t photograph the blinky lights, I would definitely blog about them. It’s better than the crosswalk traffic light across Main Street in BG!

Overall, I’m very glad I got to see the girls in concert. I always enjoy the intimate atmosphere of the Grog Shop, and the show was all the better for being so close to the stage, especially with a group like this.

I suppose I could have described the actual songs and style a little more, but I’m kind of new at this whole reviewing thing. Maybe you should just download an mp3 and see what it was all about.

2 thoughts on Tegan & Sara: Live in Cleveland

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  1. I’m just sad we were up wind from the bare boobies. 🙁 Good show though. Seeing all the trendy 20-something lesbians at the Tegan & Sara show makes me glad that we don’t see the same behavior at Bob Mould shows. I don’t need dudes in tha audience asking Bob if he wants to see their little soldiers.

    One minor correction: Tegan & Sara were both playing Gibson Les Pauls, not Epiphones. 🙂

  2. My bad — I’d looked at their website, and Sara said that Tegan plays an Epiphone. Must have gotten new guitars since she wrote the bios. Oops.