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Tegan & Sara celebrated ‘The Con’ at Kings Theatre (review, videos, setlist)

Tegan and Sara - The con

After spending the summer hitting the festival circuit (Boston Calling, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, and The Meadows included) in support of their most recent album, 2016’s poppy Love You to Death, Tegan & Sara dialed it back ten years to revisit their 2007 classic, The Con. They released an album of covers of the album, and they’ve been on tour performing it in full in honor of its tenth anniversary, in both cases to benefit the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for “economic justice, health, and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.” The sisters addressed the recent forming of the foundation onstage at their Kings Theatre show on Wednesday (11/8), saying that they wanted to give back to the LGBTQ community who has shared so much with them in their time making music as out lesbians; furthermore, as people who have worked in indie music for years, they really know how to stretch a dollar.

Tegan & Sara promised “acoustic and intimate arrangements” of The Con‘s fourteen tracks for this tour, and they brought them to life with a four piece band. Tegan (playing guitar) and Sara (on keys) were joined by Tim Mislock, who’s played with The Antlers, Holly Miranda, and as a member of the Hedwig and the Angry Inch band; and Gabrial McNair, who, before touring with Tegan & Sara for the past couple of years, spent many years working with No Doubt. Some of the live versions of The Con‘s songs sounded only slightly stripped down from the album versions, while others more noticeably diverged. “Are You Ten Years Ago” went minimal with flickering synths, whereas “Back in Your Head” refocused entirely around keyboards, with Tegan playing a shaker. Tegan picked up an acoustic guitar for “Hop a Plane” with Sara providing harmonies, and “Burn Your Life Down” was similarly stripped down to acoustic guitar and keyboards, letting the final couple lines of “break my heart around this” really roar out. “Nineteen” gained a pretty piano intro, while the keyboard lines on “Floorplan” sounded almost jazzy.

Between songs, Tegan and Sara amused with their typically self deprecating stage banter, riffing on the horrors of trying on bathing suits (and the possibility of injuring ones self in the process) and joking that they’d transformed into Barenaked Ladies when Tegan had to restart “Hop a Plane” after forgetting the lyrics and Sara encouraged her to freestyle. They also touched on why the album, a fan (and my own) favorite, isn’t necessarily their own number one, with Sara admitting that the initial time spent touring was “quite literally two of the worst years of my life.” Later in the set, she mused, “it’s amazing how so much pain and suffering” fits into the album’s run time of less than an hour – 37 minutes, in fact. It’s true that The Con‘s relatively short length belies its depth; at merely one minute and 23 seconds long, its shortest song, “Soil, Soil,” manages to be one of its most powerful, portraying the yearning of being reached, or being saved, while simultaneously hiding from view. Many of The Con‘s songs deal in the immediacy of being young, heartbroken, and on the verge of something, some galvanizing action or emotion. Feelings that while wallowing in them seem to go forever, looking back years later seemed like the briefest blip on a larger timeline – the songs of The Con are like that.

Tegan calls The Con‘s final two songs, “Dark Come Soon” and “Call It Off,” hopeful (Sara doesn’t agree). Both songs’ renditions were fairly faithful to the album, and “Call It Off” swelled with the voices of the audience singing along.

For the last part of the show, Tegan and Sara started with a few acoustic versions of their more produced, poppier songs, like “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “The Ocean,” allowing the lyrical content to take the forefront. They warned they’d be covering a lot of emotional ground in the final few songs before launching into fan favorite “Living Room” from 2002’s If It Was You, transformed from its album version with a focus on keyboards. Another older song, “Where Does the Good Go,” from 2004’s So Jealous, also got a big reception, although Tegan admitted she didn’t think she could play it very well. The audience took over much of the singing for the final bridge and chorus, setting the stage for the show’s final song, “Closer,” which brought much of the crowd to their feet to dance.

Find a few videos and the setlist from Wednesday night’s show at Kings Theatre below. Tegan & Sara are on tour performing The Con through mid-November.

Meanwhile, Tegan & Sara also released an animated video for Hayley Williams‘ cover of “Nineteen” from The Con X: Covers, which you can watch below as well.

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Setlist: Tegan & Sara @ Kings Theatre, 11/8/2017

I Was Married
Relief Next to Me
The Con
Knife Going In
Are You Ten Years Ago
Back in Your Head
Hop a Plane
Soil, Soil
Burn Your Life Down
Nineteen
Floorplan
Like O, Like H
Dark Come Soon
Call It Off

Now I’m All Messed Up
The Ocean
White Knuckles
Living Room
Bad Ones (Matthew Dear)
Red Belt
Where Does the Good Go
Closer

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