Photographs by Sean Chin.
Canadian Music Week is mostly about up and coming bands, both from Canadian and abroad to showcase their talents on the Toronto music scene. To go along with the smaller names, there are plenty of sponsored shows with headlining talent involved. CHUM FM hosted their Fanfest at the Kool Haus with a diverse lineup of music that they normally play on their station. Opening acts ranged from Magic! to Alyssa Reid, the latter of whom was presented with a gold record for having a hit single. Most people were at the show there for the headliners. Even though Tegan and Sara have been playing together nearly 20 years, it took their last album Heartthrob to finally bring them international acclaim. They normally are known for their folk-rock sound with their heart wrenching ballads, but they shifted their style and put out a full on synth-pop record with nonstop dance tunes. Shockingly, it worked, and since these are dance songs with a bite they got plenty of critical praise.
When the girls sauntered out they were wearing matching black leather jackets and all black to go along with their backing band also rocking only black ensembles. They kicked it off with one of their most popular songs off The Con from 2007 Back In Your Head, the devastating love song about infidelity. While some bands will retool old songs to fit their current sound and it falls flat, Tegan and Sara punching up their songs to make them even easier to dance too works on so many levels of pure bliss.
Their backing band sounds as tight as ever, standouts include Adam Christgau, the drummer, sounding stadium ready which should come as no surprise. John Spence on the keyboards bridges the gap between 80’s over-the-top pop schmaltz and modern day dream pop that Tegan and Sara scored so perfectly.
The set was mostly filled with new songs like Goodbye, Goodbye and I Was A Fool, which elicited huge cheers and sing-a-longs from the wild crowd. In the intro for I Was A Fool, Tegan who is known for having a bit of a foul mouth declared what everyone was thinking anyways. “Is it just the pleather jacket or is it fucking hot in here? Or is this just me? I know it was cold up here for a long time. Did Kool Haus not get the memo that it is getting warmer? Sara is going to fucking pass out from the heat!”
Older songs like Alligator and Living Room got huge synth updates, even the xylophone sounded like it was drenched in gloss. There is a reason why sibling bands work so well when they are both lead singers. Harmony is something that can be taught, but when you spend your life singing with someone, you naturally compliment each other perfectly. There is a reason why The Everly Brothers or The Righteous Brothers are held in such high regard. Tegan and Sara showed they deserve to be in the conversation as the best sibling harmony singers from Canada.
They played a fantastic cover of Pete Townshend’s Let My Love Open The Door which Sara described as being an overly positive song something they normally discourage people from doing since it sets expectations too high. They finished off the set with a super amped up version of Closer, which got every single sweaty person dancing like their life would end if they stopped. CHUM FM scored a huge coup getting these legends to be one of their headliners for their Fanfest.
Thanks to CHUM FM, Bell and Audioblood for media access.