Taking advantage of a lovely spring evening, we decided to take a leisurely stroll with our show-going friend to catch Canadian sister act Tegan and Sara at The Ryman. Ah, Lower Broad in the spring -- filled with the smells of over-smoked pork and the sounds of beggars calling our companion "girlie" before asking for money. Arriving at 7:30 on the dot, we made it into a half-filled auditorium just as first opener Holly Miranda began.
The sparseness of the room and chatter of the audience made her set feel like it was taking place in an overgrown coffeehouse. She had a pleasant, deep voice that sadly fell into the style of too many female singers nowadays -- starting off a line bombastic and strong, and finishing it up in a declarative whisper, as if they haven't the strength to commit to actually singing. Minus the vocals, the music sounded a lot like Radiohead circa '94, except for her Etta James cover, which sounded like a white girl singing Etta James. We did end up with an official Holly Miranda temporary heart tattoo, which, no lie, we love.
The Spin would like to extend our apologies to second band Steel Train. We kind of forgot you were sitting behind us while we were telling our friend post-set that you sounded like "Arcade Fire lite." The Spin doesn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, but real talk is real talk. We enjoyed your ending percussion-athon, and we always like a great big rock 'n' roll cacophony. Do more of that, change your name, and stop writing songs about anxiety called "Kill the Monster in the Rain," and we think you'll be OK.
As Paramore's Hayley Williams was busy signing autographs in the balcony, we were fluttering back and forth between just which of the main act's songwriters is our favorite: Tegan and Sara tend to write separately, with Tegan going more the straight rock route and Sara open to more modern experimentation. Right on time, the lights went down, the back curtain opened, and the girls started a-screaming. T&S kicked off with "The Ocean," "On Directing," and "The Cure," all songs from their 2009 record Sainthood. The crowd (what we estimated to be a 70/30 split of women/men) went predictably bonkers.
Dear audience, can we settle one a new rule? Stage banter amongst the artists is not an invitation for call-and-response or declarations of love. Tegan (now officially our favorite) even made a point of addressing the worshipful crowd: "It's like we're about to make out and you keep screaming at me." Thanks, Tegan! They rallied and carried on, doing a chunk of our favorite record, So Jealous, including our favorite song, "Walking With a Ghost" (wait -- now Sara is our favorite) and closed it out with more from Sainthood. Though sounding much looser than on their records, they still played a fun, professional show with the ease and confidence of, well, two performers who grew up together. The encore was quieter, with songs from The Con, and they closed out with fan favorite "Living Room." We spilled back out into Lower Broad and made a slow mosey home. The heart tattoo hasn't washed off yet.